His face is bathed in the lights of mount Olympus, his hair is flowing like a mane about his regal countenance and he stands in his glimmering armor as he utters his command in a booming baritone: “Release the Kraken!”
Liam Neeson has a king-like air about him in a lot of movies, and this is not the first time he has played a god-like being. He was also Aslan the lion in The Chronicals of Narnia; a symbol of God in the fairy tale. Now he plays Zeus, the Greek god of thunder and ruler of Olympus in the updated “Clash of The Titans.” In this film, he plays a pained god as his subjects, the humans, reject the gods that created them. He is goaded by his brother Hades into leveling the city of Argos as punishment. Hades gives the humans ten days to provide a sacrifice in the form of the princess Andromeda to the Kraken or face the destruction of Argos. The only hope anyone has is the bastard son of Zeus, a demi-god named Perseus and his flying horse Pegasus.
This film first graced the big screen in 1981 with Lawrence Olivier in the role of Zeus and Harry Hamlin as Perseus. The film featured stop-motion animation for the creature effects—state of the art for the time—and a more simplistic plot. In this update, Sam Worthington plays Perseus and the plot has more twists and a more human focus. While the original was about a war between the gods, this update is about a war between gods and men. Perseus, initially ignorant of his heritage, decries the gods and swears to kill Hades for the deaths of his adoptive family. The recurrent theme is mankind no longer needs gods.
Worthington has had one heck of a year. Terminator Salvation, Avatar and now Clash of the Titans are all big ticket movies and would go far in establishing him as a bankable star, if only he had more than one character type. Worthington plays essentially the same character in all three films. Oh, sure, in one he is an unwitting cyborg with a human heart, in another he is a paraplegic marine galloping around in a cyber-linked clone body, and here he is a patricidal demi-god, but he plays them all with the same personality.
The special effects are a far cry from the stop-motion of the classic; CGI makes the movements fluid and the creatures photo-realistic. This adds an immersive element to the adventure that takes our hero from Argos to the lair of the Stygian witches to the Underworld and finally to the lair of Medusa. Battling giant scorpions, braving the storms at sea, crossing the river Styx, fighting the Gorgon and the climactic battle with the Kraken itself, the effects put the viewer right there. In fact, with the 3-D version, you would think you could be in the battle yourself. You could think that…but you may not really feel it.
This film is one of a plethora of movies being filmed and released in 3-D. I was not a big fan of 3-D until I saw James Cameron’s Avatar. That film really put the viewer into a new planet, giving a true sensation of otherworldly reality. Sadly, Clash of The Titans does not have the same level of depth. The 3-D seems muddled on the screen—even in digital projection—and the action gets lost in itself. In fact, the 3-D action sequences suffer the most.
This movie is a good time. It even pays homage to the original with a cameo by Bubo the owl. I thoroughly enjoyed watching it. Liam Neeson bellowing “Release the Kraken” brought shivers. Could it have been better, maybe. Even Worthington’s 2-dimensional portrayal was fun to watch and the special effects were captivating. It is not worth the extra money for the 3-D experience since you really don’t get any benefit from the glasses. Watch it in 2-D and sit back and enjoy.