Monday, June 5, 2017

Let's Get Kraken! It's "Clash Of The Titans" 2010!

The cast of "Clash of the Titans" (2010) prepares for an onslaught of negative reviews.

Hail and hearty hello you and yours, movie lovers.

Today we set our cinematic sights on ancient Greece, a time of gods and monsters, humans and immortals, men in short skirts and over stuffed movies based on a mish-mash of Greek myths the screenwriters invariably screw-up, big time.

In 3-D.

"Clash of the Titans" (2010) is the completely unnecessary (but fitfully hilarious) reboot/remake/revamp/regurgitation of 1981's "Clash of the Titans."

In the original version, a pre-"L.A.Law" Harry Hamlin played Perseus, the son of Zeus, who rises to his destiny and saves cuddlemate Princess Andromeda from certain death.

"What's the matter with kids today?": Zeus (Liam Neeson) wonders what to do with his unruly brood of human children. 

In our 2010 version, Sam Worthington is Perseus, a crew-cutted nitwit who yammers endlessly that he could care less that Zeus is his father. In fact, Sam's Perseus is less interested in rising to his destiny and more interested in whining about how he wants no part of his destiny. In other words, he's a typical Millennial (rim shot).

Oh, and another thing: Perseus doesn't save the Princess Andromeda out of love. In fact, the two barely even know each other. This time around he's warm for the form of Io (Gemma Arterton), a mysterious gal who looks like Kendall Jenner and, unfortunately, acts like Kendall Jenner...if Kendall Jenner could act, which, she, alas, cannot (see her ill-fated Pepsi commercial if you need further proof).

Now, movie lovers, if you are a bit confused by all this, well, wait until you watch the movie. Then you'll really be confused! Until then, please enjoy my witty and informative take on this bloated, budget-busting, 3-D, CGI charbroiled cheeseburger par excellence.

The action begins with the mighty Greek god Zeus (Liam Neeson) stomping around Mt. Olympus complaining that the mortals of Earth are a bunch of ungrateful, whiny brats. They refuse to honor their creator! They are slacking off on their prayers! Their offerings in the temples are puny! Sounding like an exasperated suburban dad fed up with his high school-age children ignoring their curfews and leaving all the lights on, Zeus screams that the mortals need to be taught a lesson and to start showing some respect.

Suddenly appearing in a puff of black smoke is Hades (Ralph Fiennes), Zeus' kid brother and ruler of the Underworld. He agrees that mankind needs a collective kick in the crotch and, what's more, he has the perfect means to achieve it: the Kraken, a fearsome, gigantic snapping turtle that Hades carved out of his own flesh (eww). Once the humans are threatened by this beastie, Hades promises, they will come rushing back the gods like ants to a sugar cube.

"All in the Family": Perseus (center) is surrounded by his happy, loving family...who in a few minutes will all be killed.

While all this is happening, the strapping young stud Perseus (Sam Worthington) is sailing to the city of Argos with his happy, loving sea-faring family: dad Sypros (Pete Postlethwaite), mom Marmara (a pre-"Downton Abby" Elizabeth McGovern) and kid sister Tekla. Although Sypros and Marmara found Perseus bobbing around the sea in an ornate casket many years ago, they insist he is their son through and through. Perseus finds great comfort in this, declaring at one point, "I have everything I need" as he watches his family peacefully sleeping.

As bad movie fanatics know, such a heart felt declaration only means everyone is a dead duck. As Perseus and family sail into Argos, the citizens of the city are toppling a gigantic statue of Zeus. As it crashes into the waters below, the family's boat nearly capsizes. Seconds later, out of the drink comes a battalion of winged, vampire bat lizard people. These beasties tear a few extras to shreds and then meld together to form a super-sized Hades. Hades then proceeds to cause a massive title wave, which sweeps the hapless citizens of Argos in every direction...and sends Perseus' happy, loving family to a watery grave.

(You may be wondering where Poseidon, god of the sea, is while this is going on. I wondered about that, too. I suppose Poseidon's silence means he's OK with Hades' behavior.)

Perseus survives the tidal wave and is fished out of the water by a naval ship. Nobody knows what to do with him, so the soldiers march him to the palace of the King and Queen of Argos. These randy royals are hosting a lavish "Stick It In Your Ear!" benefit to mock the gods, something their civic minded daughter Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) knows is a bad idea. No sooner does her booze chugging mom (Polly Walker) dare to say her daughter is cuter than Aphrodite, than Hades reemerges in his tell-tale black smoke. (Why Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, doesn't show up to avenge this insult is never explained.) "You are specks of dust beneath our fingernails," Hades rasps to the astonished party-goers. And to prove it, he turns the glamour-puss queen into a dessicated bag of bones, causing her to promptly expire. He then announces that "in ten days" he will "release the Kraken". If the people of Argos wish to save themselves, the god of the Underworld says they must feed poor Andromeda to the Kraken--nothing else will suffice.

"This is the will of Zeus--your father!" Hades says, starring straight at Perseus before he billows away.

"The Uninvited": Hades crashes the King of Argo's party, kills dozens of guests and vows to unleash the Kraken. How rude!

Perseus insists to anyone who will listen that he is not a demi-god (the offspring of Zeus and a mortal woman), he's a poor but honest fisherman. "I mend nets!" he screeches. "I don't wield a sword!" (Or act, I might add.)

That's when Io shows up. She proceeds to inform Perseus (in a droning monologue) that he is the son of Zeus. See, Zeus took the form of King Acrisius and visited the bedroom of his unsuspecting wife Danae. After the two did the wild thing, Zeus revealed himself, causing the king to go bonkers with rage (the wife wasn't very happy, either). Eventually, Acrisius sends mother and baby out to sea in a casket. It was Io who guided Perseus to his happy, loving but now dead family. When Perseus asks if Io is also a god, she replies, "There are gods, there are mortals and there are those in between." Suitably confused, Perseus presses no further.

Io then saves the best bit for last: Perseus "was born to kill the Kraken." She offers no examples to prove this, so we just have to take her word for it. Ninny that he is, Perseus insists that he doesn't want to kill the Kraken; he wants to avenge his family by killing Hades--ignoring that Hades, a god, is immortal and pretty much death-proof. Still, he signs on when Io explains that defeating the Kraken will hurt Hades, which is better than nothing.

Oh, and another thing: Perseus wants to kill the Kraken as a man, not a demi-god, so he plans on refusing all help his demi-god status could provide him. Perseus says this a lot.

To help Perseus in his noble quest (and to save his kid), the King of Argos sends him off with a crack team of untested pretty boys and grizzled vets just shy of retirement age--the ultimate Expendables. The head honcho in charge of this mission is Draco (Mads Mikkelsen), an unsmiling sourpuss who constantly badgers Perseus to accept his demi-god status for the good of the team.(We won't know until much later that Draco is mourning the loss of his daughter, which explains why he's so crabby.) Also tagging along are two comic relief mercenaries (brothers Ozal and Kucuk) and Io (with a vast array of outfits and never a hair out of place).

"Get my point?": Commander Draco takes issue with the perpetually whining Perseus.

It's decided that the Stygian Witches would know best how to defeat the Kraken. So our happy warriors trudge off through dense forests and burning deserts to find them. Along the way, Perseus and company met up with a passel of CGI scorpions forged from the toxic blood of, oh, never mind. Watch the movie yourself to get the details. Anyway, like so many CGI critters, these scorpions exist merely to pad out the film and kill off unnecessary cast members. Despite their size, these crustaceans are not especially frightening or awe inspiring; therefore, when they are later tamed and turned into pack mules, nobody bats an eye.

Another group of fun guys calling the desert home is a tribe of freaky warriors called "The Djinn." These gents are tall drinks of water who sport flowing robes and glowing blue peepers. Any resemblance to the Sand People in "Star Wars" is probably unintentional. One grizzled vet explains to a newbie that, when a Djinn's skin rots off or they lose a limb, they replace it with tree bark (eww). Charming as they are, the Djinn add nothing of significance to the proceedings, either, except they do manage to turn those computerized scorpions into pack mules.

Finally, Perseus and the gang locate the Stygian Witches, a trio of sightless, ugly, bickering hags. The gals share one slimy eyeball between them--and a taste for young men. According to them, the only way to defeat the Kraken is to show it the head of Medusa. Who is Medusa, you ask? She's a Gorgon cursed with such ugliness (and snakes for hair) that men turn to stone when the catch sight of her. Since it's highly unlikely Medusa will offer her services out of the goodness of her heart, Perseus et al must make the radical move of chopping off her noggin. This means a trip down to the Underworld (where Medusa calls home) and yet another tiresome encounter with a CGI beastie.

OK, so, Perseus and his dwindling crew converge on Medusa's lair. His inspiring words to the troops? "Don't look the bitch in the eye!" However, one by one, members of Perseus' team confront Medusa and make the fatal mistake of looking at her. And to be fair, Medusa doesn't look that bad. Yes, she has snakes for hair, but she's quite pretty. Medusa also has a taste for high fashion, as she sports a chic leather breast plate and opera gloves. It's only when Medusa flashes her peepers and screams in a guy's face that she turns ugly and they turn to stone. However, don't fret that our hero will fall prey to Medusa's charms. After a spirited sword battle, Perseus flashes his shield at Medusa, which temporarily blinds her. Perseus then slices off her head and the poor dear slithers off into a pit of fire. Yes, Perseus has won the day, but the movie still isn't over.

Because "Clash of the Titans" 2010 has spent so much time focused on Perseus and his quest to knock Medusa's block off, viewers might have forgotten about the besieged inhabitants of Argos. In the absence of inspired leadership from their king, the citizens of Argos have been whipped into a frenzy by a Milo Yiannopoulos-type and have decided to sacrifice Princess Andromeda to the Kraken-- Perseus be damned. A plucky gal, Andromeda accepts her fate ("No one should die for me") and calmly dangles over the Bay of Argos like a worm on a fish hook.

Princess Andromeda is surprising OK with being Kraken bait.

Now comes the moment we've (or some of us) have been waiting for: the emergence of the Hades' "child", the Kraken! A true diva, this bloody thirsty monster takes his own sweet time lumbering over to Argos and emerging from the ocean's depths. In his full CGI glory, the Kraken resembles a large, very pissed off snapping turtle with an impressive set of pointy choppers and a face only a father could love. I am sure a lot of time and money went into creating this CGI, yet, like so many CGIs, the Kraken comes off flat and fake. He's no match for the beasties in "Aliens", the high water mark of movie monsters. Or those wonderful skeleton soldiers in "Jason and the Argonauts." Instead, the Kraken resembles Gamora, the flying turtle (and "friend to all children") who starred in a series of Japanese monster movies in the late '60's and early 1970's. Not even Andromeda is afraid of him, and she's his designated snack.

No matter. As the Kraken waves its mighty flippers, as the citizens of Argos scream and shout, as the movie's soundtrack reaches ear-shattering decibels, "Clash of the Titans" 2010 finally reaches its frenzied climax. Just when it seems all is lost, the clouds part and Perseus appears on the winged horse Pegasus, Medusa's noggin in a burlap sack. After an aerial battle with those pesky winged vampire lizard people, Perseus yanks Medusa's head out of its sack and flashes her ugly mug at the Kraken. As promised, the mighty beast turns to stone. Slowly. Very slowly. Unfortunately, the Kaken also turns into rather cheap stone, because large chunks of him start falling off  immediately and flattening the people below--such as Andromeda's feckless father and that false prophet/Milo Yiannopoulos guy. The impact of these crashes sends poor Andromeda into the drink, but have no fear: Perseus with his demi-god lung power saves her bacon quite easily.

Washed up on the shores of a near-by beach, Andromeda and Perseus eventually come to. Acknowledging his bravery and loyalty, Andromeda asks Perseus to rule Argos with her. He declines. Later on, Zeus shows up and asks his son to join him on Mt. Olympus. This our hero also rejects. After everything that has happened, all Perseus wants to do is return to his quite life as a fisherman. This is granted, along with the resurrected Io, who died a couple of scenes back. Oh, did I forget to mention that? Well, she did, but she's OK now.

With Io at his side, Perseus begins his life anew...until he is contractually obligated to begin shooting "The Clash of the Titans" 2010 sequel "The Wrath of the Titans". That film will be EVEN WORSE than this one--trust me, I've seen it--but until that day comes, let's wish those crazy kids Perseus and Io a long and happy life together.

Want to go in on a wedding present?

"Open Wide!": The fierce Kraken bares her/his/its fangs, but proved no match for movie critics barbs.

While writing and researching about "The Clash of the Titans" 2010, I came upon a quote from a disgruntled movie-goer that describes the experience of enduring this flick: he called our featured presentation "a rectal probe of a movie."

Crude, perhaps, but accurate. Painfully accurate, I might add.

When you consider the source material the screenwriters (Travis Beacham, Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi) had access to, the talent of the actors cast in major roles and the budget ($125 MILLION) that the producers (Basil Iwanyk, Kevin De La Noy and Richard D. Zanuck) had to work with, it is not unreasonable to believe a rousing, thrilling adventure with compelling characters and feats of daring-do was possible. Instead, director Louis Leterrier churned out an epic failure that left movie patrons feeling as if a medical instrument had been shoved up their hinders.

Where did "Clash of the Titans" 2010 go wrong? Was it the less-than-charismatic hero, played by Sam Worthington? Was it the skimpy script that invested nothing in the human characters and failed to flesh out the immortal ones? Was it the blind faith that CGIs images would distract the audience from the hollowness of the film over-all?

All of thee above. But, hey, it made money, so who cares...except for the people who love movies and demand more of them than just CGI scorpions.

"Who are you?": One of the original props from "Clash of the Titans" 1981 makes an appearance--and upstages leading man Sam Worthington.

Sigh. I end this post with a heavy heart. For what is the point of a $125 million dollar movie budget if the resulting film is a noisy non-experience?

So help me stop the insanity and SAVE THE MOVIES!

No comments:

Post a Comment