Sam Worthington is a marketing construct. He is to action heroes what the New Kids on the Block were to pop music: Completely manufactured. He’s a movie poster image come to life on screen. In a movie industry obsessed with CGI and 3D effects, Sam Worthington is the next best thing to a digitally created actor. He has no charisma. He has no personality. He’s a sleek, muscle-bound vessel for clunky dialog and action sequences, able to contort his body in such a way that’s completely impractical for actual hand-to-hand combat, but that looks great on camera.
In Clash of the Titans, Vessel is Perseus: Half fisherman’s (adopted) son, half bastard son of Zeus. After his fisherman family become collateral damage in a fight between mortals and one of the worst CGI creations in the history of big-budget film, Ralph Fiennes’ Hades, Perseus takes up arms against the Gods, carrying around one of his father’s last inspirational salvos: “Enough is Enough!”
Man and the Gods are pitted against each other, of course, because of some absurd circular logic: The Gods aren’t giving men the bounty of food and wealth they’d prefer to have, so men aren’t paying their proper respects to the Gods, and so the Gods aren’t giving them the bounty they want. The Gods, you see, feed off of the power of Man’s prayer — the more prayers they receive, the more powerful they are — but since man has won the jackpot of suck, they refuse to drop their prayer cards in the collection plate and have decided instead to take up arms. Against immortal deities. Who could eviscerate mankind with a sneeze.
As such, Zeus has unleashed his brother, Hades, on mankind, thinking he can terrify man into prayer. Hades offers the people of Argos a deal: Sacrifice the princess Andromeda (Alexa Davlos) in ten days, or Hades will release the Kraken, a many-tentacled sea monster giant enough to use the city of Argos as its tiny vibrating dildo.
What to do? What to do?
It’s obvious, isn’t it? Rather than sacrifice one person who is very pretty, Argos’ royalty sends Perseus and a small army of warriors on a suicide mission to take down the Kraken, by way of several archaic monsters, including Medusa. Perseus is helped along the way by Io (Gemma Arterton), a lovely guardian angel of sorts that has little or no relation to the Io of Greek myth.
I can’t begin to explain how brain-damaged Louis Leterrier’s Clash of the Titans is. Liam Neeson, in full-on sell-out mode, looks like a beer commercial Zeus, and you half-expect to see twins in bikinis jump onto the screen with a six-pack of Miller Light. “Release the Boobies!” Hades is beyond laughable; he’s like “Saved by the Bell’s” version of the God of the Underworld. Vessel is as wooden and and tiresome as ever, working those gleaming white tic tacs and his shitty stubble into an ineffective scowl. Every frame of Clash of the Titans is risibly campy, yet takes itself dead seriously. It’s every bit as dull as the Ray Harryhausen original, inexplicably doted on by men nostalgic for a time in their lives before they got laid.
Indeed, the first two acts of Leterrier’s Clash are tedious bordering on unwatchable — it’s a series of men lifelessly delivering lifeless dialog and battling the occasional lifeless CGI monster. Clash of the Titans is what my wife would refer to as “a boys’ movie,” and while I say that in the most pejorative sense possible, I will concede this: The final act succeeds, somewhat, in its ability to recall that sense of wonder 11-year-old boys had for the original. It’s dumb, but it’s almost gleefully exhilarating in a Saturday afternoon matinée sort of way. My slight affection for the last act feels indescribable and maybe even inexcusable, but there it is: The “Release the Kraken” moment tugged at something long dormant inside of me, probably a reservoir of indiscriminating taste that’s been stewing inside of my brain waiting for something as bad as Clash of the Titans to break my critical faculties and unleash my fatuousness, along with a sizable puddle of drool. It’s an atrocious movie, but for 20 minutes or so, it appeals to the short-bus pant-crapper in all of us. My advice: Wear a diaper.
A word or two about the 3D conversion technology utilized in Clash: It’s bogus. The 3D glasses are useless, except to prevent the edges from blurring during the action sequences. In fact, for most of the movie, the 3D version actually looks better if you take off your 3D glasses. While most critics are warning audiences away from the Clash in 3D, I’m going to go against the grain: If you must see Clash of the Titans, see it in 3D. My feeling is that, if there is a large enough groundswell of rage from customers paying an extra surcharge for what is basically a pair of glasses that will make the movie look almost as clear as the 2D version, then maybe audiences will reject that conversion technology in the future. I have nothing against real 3D movies, filmed with 3D cameras — in fact, for the right movie, I think it adds a lot — but the ineffective and exploitative conversion technology needs to die. If it continues, it will harm the industry — people uneducated about the type of 3D movie they are seeing may lump them all together, in effect damaging both, thus killing my future ability to see Ryan Reynolds’ naked torso in an extra dimension. And for that, I will forever blame Clash of the Titans.