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Friday, October 1, 2010

Movie Review - Clash of the Titans

I understand the desire to want to remake a movie. Especially a movie that had great potential but just didn't live up to it's promise or a move that lived up to it's potential but do to the passage of time and the advances in technology, the film just feels dated and "silly". I get it.

The original Clash of the Titans was a fun movie with a cool concept. Plus, it had a great cast and it was playing with Greek Mythology. I'm no pagan but Greek Mythology is cool. But it had that Ray Harryhausen stop-motion animation that, sadly, dated the film as soon as it was released. And it had that annoying owl. Yes, I hated the owl. Why? Cuz it was the filmmaker's way of inserting the C-3PO/R2-D2 of Greek "maybe" mythology into the film. F--- that bird.

Anyway, I liked it but felt like if there was any movie that could do with an update, it was CotT. You know, stick to the general story and characters but update the special effects and action. I mean, the story was pretty solid. You had romance, you had the call to adventure, you had the giving of gifts, you had honor and sacrifice, you had heroism and redemption and humbleness. All those things that make a great heroic epic...great.

Oh, but no. These assholes had to make their own "version" of CotT. Instead of it being about a heroism, it turns to that old saw of revenge. And anger. And rebellion. Damn the gods! What have they ever done for us Greeks?

Except give us life. A place to live. Animals and plants to eat. Free will to do what we choose. Even who we worship (there's a whole pantheon after all). And a whole lot more.


The General Plot

You see, in this version, Zeus has created humans to glorify the gods. That's it. He loves mankind and their prayers keep the gods alive.

Wait a minute. If that's true, how in Zeus's name did they live before Zeus created man? I mean, if they need mankind to live, how did they live before mankind? How did the gods, already living, know they needed to make man to keep them alive even though they were already alive?

Ah, the first stupid point of the movie. And it's at about the fifteen second point.

You see, they clearly explain in the opening introduction that Zeus and his siblings defeated his father Cronus and the Titans for control of the heavens and earth. They took ownership of Mount Olympus and earth and the oceans and the underworld. Zeus became lord overall. Poseidon owned the seas. And Hades got shafted in the underworld.

Somewhere in there they say Hades created the Kraken and it defeated the Titans. Not Zeus and his mighty thunderbolts or the cyclopes or the other children of Cronus. Nope, just the Kraken. Which Hades made. Ah, revisionist mythology.

Next!

Somewhere after defeating the Titans, humans were made and quickly became little bitches who hated the gods. We're told that it's because they felt like they were slaves to the gods. So man wants to throw the yoke of the gods off. Want to do things THEIR WAY!

Granted, the gods did some crazy shit to mankind in the myths. But in this film they don't show any of that. They don't show the gods actually treating the people as slaves. They don't show any mistreatment of mankind at all, ever, throughout the entire film, by the gods. Even Hades kind of has a reason to lay some ass whup on the humans.

Actually, what they show kind of makes man look like, well, a bunch of self-righteous assholes.

Example: King Acrisius, Perseus's true father, has declared war on the gods. Why, I have no idea. But he's done it. So, Zeus, being a little pissed off at the rebellion, swoops down and impersonates Acrisius and does his wife and impregnates her with the soon to be Perseus. Acrisius, even more angry that the god he's declared war on for reasons WE DON'T KNOW has done this than the original reason for the war apparently, decides to murder his wife and throw the newborn baby with her in a casket into the sea. Did Zeus act like a dick? Sure. But no where in there are we told why Acrisius is a flaming asshole fighting the gods and then murdering his wife for thinking Zeus was him. Later on, when Acrisius becomes Calibos (a significant change from the original) he's a mad idiot with power given from Hades to hunt down Perseus, his own son, and kill him. Again, we don't know why he's doing this other than he hates the gods. When in reality, this idiot has created his own living hell through his own stupid actions (based on the information we've been given). Later, he fights Perseus (who doesn't know who the hell he is; lost father/son drama moment there) and loses. Before he dies, he tells Perseus not to become one of them (the gods). Huh? How about don't do what I did and be a short-tempered, rash asshole who kills his own wife and tried to kill you several times, my son, cuz I hate your god-infused blood. Yeah, don't be like me. Instead, he says, don't be like them. Ah, whatever.

Anyway, Perseus learns he's a demi-god at the same time Hades threatens to destroy Argos with the Kraken. They've got until the next eclipse to sacrifice the princess or else DOOM! This, of course, is the suggested strategy to get people praying to the gods again. Nothing motivates like some good old fashion terror and fear. Yee-haw!

Perseus has a choice. Do nothing or do something. Well, once he learns his bloodline, he's offended because he hates the gods, too. Everyone we see hates the gods, even the demi-gods. Cuz the gods are assholes or something. He blames them for the death of his adopted father (more on that idiot later). So what's he decide to do? Yeah, he decides he's going to kill the Kraken and kill Hades and spit in Zeus's eyes. Cuz he's angry. Angry I tell you! Great.


Hades's Plot for Revenge

This is another line of logic that fails to make sense. Hades tells Zeus that the prayers they need to live can only be encouraged through fear. So that means releasing the Kraken and scaring the holy shit out of the people. But then Hades demands a sacrifice from Argos. Naturally, those who want to LIVE form a cult of Hades and demand the sacrifice of the princess to save their own skins. These new found prayers to Hades give him enough strength to overthrow Zeus apparently.

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And he's just doing this now? And Zeus never thought that some other gods could be strengthened by individual devotions? After all, he allowed pantheistic worship. Stupid pagans.

Look, Hades created the Kraken. Created it. Why does he need Zeus to release it? Why doesn't he just MAKE ANOTHER ONE? Why doesn't he unleash his harpies on mankind and scare them to prayers? Why doesn't he release the dead? Also, are there no Cults of Hades anywhere before this threat? Bullshit. There are death worshipers everywhere. Hello! Kali! I saw Temple of Doom.

This was a silly way to make the gods more central to the story. What they should have done was portray Hades as the hater of mankind. He could have conspired to convince Zeus the humans weren't worth keeping. Then there would have been a test. Perseus would redeem mankind and prove their worth. Kind of like Job. There would have been internal conflict and external conflict. Gods who love and hate humans and humans who love and hate the gods. See, there are two sides to every coin. Not just one. Do it this way and there would be an arc for all of the characters.

Oh, wait. They need prayers to live. Right.


Perseus' Stupid Adopted Dad

Spyros finds the coffin baby Perseus and momma were tossed into the sea in. Saves the kid. Mom is already tits-up. Too bad.

Fast forward a dozen years. Spyros is a struggling fisherman. Perseus is a brooding kid.

Fast forward another so many years. Spyros is a shitty fisherman. Perseus tells him he pretty much sucks and is old and laughs. Spyros laughs back.

Then Spyros does something completely stupid and makes no sense to the advancement of his character or plot other than to serve as fuel to Perseus’s later hatred for the gods. Spyros hauls in an empty net and wonders when Zeus or Poseidon are going to give him bounty. He says he prays and gets nothing. Then he whines. And bitches. And moans. His wife tells him to shut up. But no, this old pussy keeps complaining. Says the gods have denied man too long. Says someday, someone is going to take a stand against them.

Stand against what? Is there a god embargo on fish? Is Poseidon secretly cutting your nets opens?

All of this originates from an empty fishing net. Huh?

Hey asshole, how about you realize YOU SUCK AS A FISHERMAN! Hey asshole, how about you LEARN A DIFFERENT TRADE SINCE YOU SUCK AS A FISHERMAN! Hey asshole, how about you fish WHERE THE FISH ARE!

Nope. Just whines. In front of his kids. Die already.

Basically Spyros is bitching because he wants a welfare state and the gods aren't complying. Why even fish then? Why not just stand on the beach and shake your fists at the sky and say, "Yo, where my fishes at, bitch!"

Lame. Lazy. Horrible writing. It would have been more convincing if Spyros was a pious man who loses his wife to a god and then questions his faith. That makes sense. It's called internal conflict. Like the white guy who hates racism and then his wife gets raped by some gang-bangers and he turns, you know, a bit racist. Internal conflict. The heart goes through dark phases. Light, dark, light. Instead, we get a whiny asshole who just keeps whining and then dies. Bad farts are better.

Perseus continues his adopted father's tradition. Angry. Angry. Rageful. Spiteful. Whiny. Will this asshole please die. Damn. Angry. Spiteful.


Characterization

The Greeks in this film are portrayed as pretty much secular assholes who want nothing more than to be selfish narcissists and turn themselves into gods. There, I said it. Oh, wait, so did the Queen of Argos right before Hades turns her into an old woman. She says, Yo why do we need the gods. Screw them. We are the gods.

Oh, Lucifer?

Anyway, you'd think this would serve as a wake up call to her fellow citizens. Damn, maybe we went the wrong way. Yeah, the gods do messed up shit but just maybe we're kind of, you know, pissing them off. If they love us so much, like the narrator KEEPS TELLING US, maybe we should be HUMBLE and they'll realize they've treated us a bit harshly. Or something like that.

Nope.

The moment the King realizes there's a demi-god in his court, he saddles up and begs Perseus to go find a way to kill the Kraken. No repentence. No, hey Zeus, sorry. Could you call your brother off? Nope, just go kill and serve mankind.

Whatever.


Perseus's Revenge Doesn't Make Any Sense

Perseus wants revenge on the gods for killing Spyros and his adopted brood. But here's the dirty little secret: something provoked Hades's little tirade. You see, Argos, once again, declared war on the gods. This is illustrated by a bunch of Argos soldiers toppling a statue of Zeus on a cliff. It falls into the sea and nearly capsizes Spyros's fishing boat. Then Hades unleashes his harpies and they fuck up them Argos bitches. Then Hades appears, surveys his destruction, notices the boat, and destroys it, too.

Yes, Perseus can be pissed at Hades. But really, he should be pissed at the Argos bitches for provoking, you know, the God of Death. Don't poke the bear, right?

Doesn't even enter his mind. Even when he's in the Argos Court, surrounded by the survivors who knocked that statue down. Shit, if it was me and I just found out I was a demi-god, I'd be raining a little hate and discontent on Argos's arrogant little king whose actions, uh, led to my family's death. Just a suggestion.


Draco Doesn’t Make Any Sense

There’s this guy Draco who is the King of Argos’s security head or something. He turns into the main escort for Perseus as they head out to find the way to kill the Kraken. He’s a stoic brooding character. But you get the sense there’s a lot of wisdom in him. This comes into play when Draco tells Perseus, who he knows is a demi-god, to pray to his father Zeus and end this. Perseus refuses because he doesn’t need the gods to end this. Draco reacts the way most of us would and considers Perseus’s actions selfish but presses on because time is a factor.

So, we finally have the character who understands that this isn’t just about man. This is about man and the gods living peacefully together. This is further reinforced when he tells Perseus to use the magic sword. He’s the only one who can. It is a gift from the gods. Again, Perseus spits and says, “Hell to the no”. Draco huffs and keeps the sword for when Perseus comes to his senses.

Thus far, we have Draco still acting rationally. He wants Perseus to kind of bridge the gap between man and the gods. He doesn’t say this outright but you get the impression he see Perseus as a way of healing the wounds on both sides since he is part god and part man.

Then we get to a scene where Perseus asks Draco why he never smiles. What does Draco say? He’ll smile when he spits in a god’s eye.

What? Wait, the whole movie, Draco has been the voice of reason. He wants Perseus to acknowledge he isn’t a man, he’s both. He wants him to pray and to use the sword and now, all of the sudden, he wants to spit in a god’s eye.

You see, this is nothing more than a throw away line to set up Draco’s later death. He helps kill Medusa. As he is turned to stone, he smiles. See, that’s lazy foreshadowing because it doesn’t fit the character that has been developed at all. The one character that had demonstrated a bit of internal conflict is reduced to another angry Greek who wants to give the gods the finger.

Awesome.


Where are the Rest of the Gods?

Mankind declares war on the gods. And Hades is the one who is out kicking human butt? Why? Shouldn’t someone else be doing this? You know, ARIES, the f-ing GOD OF WAR?

The Kraken is imprisoned in the sea. Shouldn’t Poseidon play a role somewhere in here?

The cult of Hades is sacrificing the princess to what is a sea monster. So, wouldn’t this be a sacrifice to Poseidon?

Where the hell is Poseidon?


Anyway, the movie had some cool special effects and a couple of good actors but overall, it sucked. Oh, and one other thing: there are no titans in this movie. As is the case for the original film, there are no clashes of any titans. None. Remember, the titans are gone. Clash of the Gods is a more appropriate title. But considering how screwed up everything else in this movie was, who really cares about getting the title right?