Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Movie Review: Clash of the Titans

This evening, I watched "Clash of the Titans" with the family.

If you're like me, you've seen the original version released in 1981 which dealt with Perseus, the half-god and half-mortal, as he has adventures in saving his love Andromeda. It was also complete with Harryhausen graphics, which don't look very real but are nonetheless classic.


The 2010 "Clash of the Titans" is about Perseus, the illegitimate son of the Greek god Zeus and Danae, a queen; he and his mother are sentenced to die in a coffin, but Perseus survives as a baby and is adopted by a fisherman and his wife. However, the world is restless as men are openly questioning and rebelling against the gods on Olympus, including Perseus and his adopted father. After his family is killed, Perseus ends up in Argos, where his demigod nature is revealed, and he is called upon to save the princess Andromeda from the Kraken, a creature created by Hades to destroy the Titans. As Perseus and his group journey to find a way to kill the Kraken, they battle beasts like Medusa, the three witches, giant scorpions, and others, and Perseus continually resists his demigod nature and refuses to act like a god.

The plot was rather strange and did not smoothly flow together. It seemed to take aspects of the original movie as well as parts of Disney's 1996 "Hercules." Basically, you have the gods trying to get humans to love them, as human prayers power them; then there is Hades who is scheming to get Zeus out of the picture so he can be king of the gods; then there is Perseus resisting his demigod nature and hating the gods, refusing to use their many gifts; then there is the chaos in Argos as religious fanatics scream about doomsday and disobeying the gods, wanting to sacrifice Andromeda, who is willing to die to save others but whose father thinks otherwise. It all may tie in for some semblance of a plot, but I found that it did not really exist or flow. The movie seemed to be more about the big action scenes and declarations of independence from the gods but little else.

Part of the problem, I found was the severe deviance from Greek mythology. Io, instead of being one of Zeus' human lovers who was disguised as a cow, became a mortal cursed with agelessness and a romantic interest for Perseus, which Andromeda originally was. The djinn, an Arabic mythological creature, were added as beings to aid Perseus, but their addition was rather bizarre and did not fit. Acrisius, the husband of Danae, becomes Calibos (in the original movie, he was a monstrous being cursed by Zeus for killing the god's flying horses), and it's his wife, not his daughter, who is impregnated by Zeus; the entire circumstances surrounding Perseus' birth were also not from the original legend (the 1981 version sticks true to what the legend says what happened). Compared to the 1981 version, Zeus and Hades were the only two gods to play a major part in the events, also deviating from the legend. Perhaps it's just me, but I prefer it when movies stick to the original mythology because continuity is better (though Disney's "Hercules" is an exception because it was watered down for young audiences, but it still worked).

The characters were nothing truly memorable or special. Sam Worthington plays the reluctant hero Perseus who hates his true origins, which is a typical stereotype in modern stories. There is the military man Draco who is meant to be likable because he lost his daughter and hates the gods because of it. Queen Cassiopea is meant to be unlikable and boastful, and there is no sympathy at all for her, and her husband barely does anything in the story. Andromeda is supposed to be a beautiful princess, but I found she wasn't anything special other than the stereotypical royal girl who loves her people and wants to save them, despite what her parents want.

My biggest problem with the movie is that it came across as being more of an anti-religious rant than anything else. Practically all of the characters hate the gods while the gods themselves are portrayed as selfish and unlikable. The entire movie was anti-religious to the point that that was its theme, and the movie was meant to drive that theme into your head. It was very annoying (not to mention offensive, because I am a Christian), and it made the movie difficult to watch and enjoy. I would have liked the movie a little better if the theme was not as predominant.

The special effects were neat, ranging from the giant scorpions to the three witches to the Kraken. However, they often reminded me of stuff from other movies, namely "Pan's Labyrinth" or "Hellboy" (both the first and the second), and I would have liked more originality in that area. Also, in my personal opinion, I liked Harryhausen's animation better, even though the recent stuff was neat.

The movie looked like it would be a cheesy guilty pleasure, but it didn't turn out to be one for me. It was an anti-religious rant with little plot and special effects galore. I think I'll just stick to the original movie for the Perseus and Andromeda legend.

I give it one and a half stars out of five.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Movie Review: Hereafter

Last night, my mom and I watched Clint Eastwood's recent film "Hereafter."


"Hereafter" takes place in 2004 and 2005 and switches between three main characters. Matt Damon plays George, a psychic who can communicate with the dead but wants nothing more to do with his gift, which he calls a curse. The second character is Marie, a French reporter who has a near-death experience in the 2004 tsunami and decides to write a book about such experiences. The third character is Marcus, who loses his twin brother Jason and is placed in a foster home, where he tries to find a psychic who will enable him to talk to his dead brother. In the last twenty minutes of the film, these three characters finally collide in London, England.

The movie's plot was continually at a snail's pace, and I was constantly waiting for something to happen, but it never happened. There were a few exciting scenes like the tsunami or the train bombing in England, but they were rather out of place in the slow-moving plot. George doesn't do much except take an Italian cooking class and try to avoid giving people a reading, Marie spends her time thinking of her near-death experience and arguing with her publisher to get her controversial book published, and Marcus walks around in an emotionless daze, looking for a psychic or for some sign of his dead brother. And then, in the last twenty minutes, the plot becomes predictable when Marie ends up in London for a book fair and George is there on vacation, and the three characters finally interact, where Marcus finally accepts his brother's death and then George and Marie meet up to begin a romantic relationship. Other than that, there was no real goal for the plot, and it merely trudged along.

The characters were rather dull, and their experiences did not help the already-slow plot. Matt Damon is a talented actor, as seen in his roles in "Good Will Hunting" or the Bourne trilogy, but this was role was a waste of his talent; he spent most of the film complaining about his psychic abilities, and I felt little sympathy for his character. Marie was also a very dry, uninteresting character, and I could have cared less if her boyfriend cheated on her or if she lost her job because of her book. Marcus was also uninteresting, and I found it difficult to sympathize with him as he struggled to deal with the grief of his brother's death. The only character who had a semblance of life was Bryce Dallas Howard as Melanie, who George meets in his class, but she disappeared early on from the story and was not brought up again. Interesting characters can often save a dull story, but the ones in this film only added to its trudging nature.

There was ultimately nothing interesting or memorable about "Hereafter." I spent the entire film feeling bored and wondering when it would be over. The three stories did not interact or mix very well, and the characters were boring and forgettable. The concept was interesting, but it was not well-done; it needed a lot more work if it was to be a memorable, dramatic story about death.

I give it one star out of five.