What are we doing again?
This isn’t really a movie review, because I don’t want to think about this movie anymore than I have to in order to warn you how bad it was. It was lame in every dimension of lameness that you can think of. Don’t go see it. They took a classic story and made it incredibly boring! Medusa, the three crazy witches, Hades? They were all boring! To an audience (me) who was incredibly sold on the story, excited about even the stupid parts, and highly tolerant of cheesiness and overacting, it was still boring! How do you even do that? I’m still confused.
Poor storytelling, bad pacing, horrible dialogue and accents, and confusing editing: all factors, but that still doesn’t quite capture the total horribleness. They were going through the motions of telling the story, but no one involved seemed to care much. Whole scenes happened randomly – at one moment the Pegasus, for instance, just shows up with no explanation, then Perseus rides away. No setup, no nothing! The cool female characters of the original are reduced to cardboard cutouts with no range. Io’s job is apparently to look hot and doe-eyed and deliver her lines stiffly. Medusa is just a writhing pile of CG with no drama. I wasn’t scared in the least, and Medusa is genuinely a freaky monster.
Killed Medusa. Ho Hum.
Of course, a lot of why I see these ancient-theme movies is to check out the costumes. They weren’t bad, but there’s a mishmash of about 2000 years of Greek arms and armor in there, including a dude in a costume straight off a Minoan fresco, Mycenean figure-8 shields, Hoplite armor, and some outfits that looked vaguely Roman. I suppose you could go with any of these in a mythology-themed movie, but throwing in the kitchen sink like that just seemed desperate. And don’t get me started on Zeus’ shiny, white, effeminate armor, it made me laugh out loud. Instead of a studly naked father god, we get an elf general from Lord of the Rings.
What's Elrond's hairy cousin doing in Olympus?
The acting actually wasn’t terrible (even legless guy from Avatar was decent as Perseus), and it was a pretty awesome idea to cast Liam Neeson and Zeus and Ralph Fiennes as Hades, even if they were totally squandered behind a bunch of bad lines and stupid CGI. I didn’t even mind the ghetto 3D (added after the film was finished, way less than impressive). But the dialogue and direction were really the suck. So I have to put the blame on this one on the director, some chump name Louis Leterrier who also brought us Transporter and Transporter 2.
I did get some warm fuzzies from this movie though - I saw the film at the Grand Lake Theatre in Oakland, where I also saw the original version as a boy. Once upon a time, I think it was 1985, the Grand Lake had a regular double feature of Flash Gordon and Clash of the Titans on weekends. I feel like I went to see it like 100 times then, even though it was probably just two or three. Those moments where you feel that continuity in your life over many years are very sweet.
Anyway, if you managed to avoid this stinker so far, you should save yourself 10 bucks and watch the hokey glory of the original. This clip of Perseus in Medusa's lair is atmospheric and scary like it should be, sans CGI: