Movie News & Reviews

Behemoth lumbers along

Say cheese-y.

We’re talking “Clash of the Titans” here.

From its dialogue – “When I spit in the eyes of the gods, then I’ll smile” – to its special effects – Behold! Humongous lumbering scorpions! Could those critters look any more bogus? – to the ridiculous hair on several of its biggest stars, we’re talking big-time Velveeta.

Make that: ham and cheese.

With Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes, sporting silly glue-on beards and hissing and thundering and sneering madly in their roles as bickering Greek god brothers Zeus and Hades respectively, the ham is sliced thick in Hollywood’s latest sword-and-sandals epic. One gets the sense that director Louis Leterrier’s instructions to his big guns was on the order of, “Guys, over there is some scenery. Chew it!”

“Clash” is a remake, as you might know, using as its launching pad 1981’s titanic clash-o-rama starring Laurence Olivier as Zeus and featuring impressive-for-their-day stop-motion special effects by the great Ray Harryhausen. With Harry Hamlin wooden and unimpressive as the hero, the demigod Perseus, and Judi Bowker inexpressive as his love interest, Andromeda, let’s just say the original offered Leterrier and company plenty of room to make improvements.

It didn’t happen.

This new “Clash” is pretty much the same as the old “Clash”: a lumbering behemoth that’s top-heavy with special effects and not much fun to watch.

Stepping into Hamlin’s sandals as Perseus is Sam Worthington who looks like he teleported in from “Avatar,” with his space-marine buzzcut from James Cameron’s megablockbuster still fuzzily in place. That hairdo certainly sets him apart from every other male in the picture, whose heads are decorated with elaborate braids and miles-long hair extensions.

Another key difference between Worthington’s Perseus and every other guy onscreen: He’s a dour dude and a strangely passive one at that.

You know your picture is in trouble when secondary characters like a soldier played by Mads Mikkelsen and a couple of monster-hunting brothers played by Ashraf Barhom and Mouloud Achour bring more energy, humor and character development to their roles than does Worthington. You’d like to spend time with those guys. With stolid Perseus, not so much.

Perseus – son of Zeus and a human mother – is a reluctant warrior, dragged into a feud between the gods and the feisty citizens of the kingdom of Argos, whose ruler has made the very bad mistake of toppling a huge statue of Zeus and daring the deity to do something about it. Tsk, tsk.

Tidal waves, mass property destruction, soldiers sucked screaming into a swirling black tornado, aka the cloak of Hades, follow. Want it to stop? Sacrifice the lovely Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) to the Kraken, “a colossal, elemental beast.” Don’t want to do that? Then dispatch unenthusiastic Perseus on an effects-filled odyssey to find a fantastic weapon that will defeat the dread beast and save the beauty from ghastly Kraken doom.

Really, the picture should have been called “Perseus vs. the CGI Wizards.” It’s one damn battle after another, with those skyscraper-sized scorpions, with slithery Medusa, with, finally, the serpentine Kraken in scenes that are clumsily cut together and so long as to seem endless. Although created with the most modern technology, the monsters look like throwbacks to the Harryhausen era, strangely primitive.

The picture was originally filmed in 2-D but then was converted in post-production to 3-D to capitalize on the current 3-D craze. Absolutely nothing is gained by the conversion. Viewed through 3-D glasses, it looks flat. A word to the wise: Save yourself the premium price of a 3-D ticket. The extra cost will be money down the drain.

'Clash of the titans'

* *

Director: Louis Leterrier

Cast: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton and Mads Mikkelsen

Running time: 1:50

Rating: PG-13; violence, scary images, peculiar hair

Where: In wide release