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Peter Clease - At the Movies

Movie Review: Clash of the Titans

While I sat stoic, in befuddlement--in processed ambiguity; in pessimistic wonderment; in, oddly, shamed approval--during the bulk of this nostalgic remake, I came to a predictable conclusion. However, when I began to review it, I remembered hearing, years ago, Pauline Kael's so-true evaluation: "Movies are so rarely great art that, if we cannot appreciate great trash, we have very little reason to be interested in them." Now--what are you expecting?--that I ramble into cliché orientated dribble, crossing Kael's relevant invention with enthusiastic outpouring for "Clash of the Titans?" Au contraire, mon ami: Kael's words are simply a contradiction to snobbish status quo, reminding moviegoers that brainless fun is acceptable, too; but if your idea of fun is to bask in never-ending stupidity--shooting (arrows), fighting, beheading and releasing the Kraken--then, by all means, "Clash of the Titans" may be the movie for you.

The film contains two interesting--not, necessarily, good--performances from Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes, playing Zeus and Hades, respectively; the remainders are as animated as Medusa's victims. It tells a story as old as the gods themselves: the battle between gods and mortals, and the titans that bring them together one step at a time--cue the soppy talk show music--although, this time around, it contains the most quotable line of poetic dialogue since "I have had it with these mother----ing snakes on this mother----ing plane!" On the narrative level, it leads Sam Worthington (Perseus)--fresh off saving Pandora--trekking the vast, and widely diverse, plains of giant scorpions, gloomy domains and the Underworld; he joins such a spontaneous path in response to Hades' Krakenian threat. But the beast remains dormant, patiently waiting; its curious desires unknown; almost completely oblivious to its own popularity--almost.

Thinking back, this affectionate homage, to the 1981 campy classic, lacks the same sense of adventure and entertainment value that was evident in the original. It depends on our willingness to endure--not enjoy--its trite efforts at popcorn entertainment; it amounts to cartoonish mayhem. The characters move carefree--tra-la-la--yet, strangely, feel as if they are barring immense weight on their shoulders, too. All can be forgiven--but "Clash of the Titans" commits a greater sin: it is talky and boring; everything is a means to blab about nothing and each minute is doubled. "Release the Kraken!" shouts Zeus. Yes, preferably into space with its instigators.

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