Some of you may recall a list I posted back in January called “The Most Anticipated Movies of 2010”. Here’s how that list has turned out so far.
10. Wolfman wasted all sorts of potential.
9. Alice In Wonderland was a mess.
7. Legion was maybe a third as cool as it should have been.
6. Shutter Island was a decent psychological mindhump and
4. Clash Of The Titans was the most disappointing of them all.
If nothing else, January’s list has taught me that I need to not trust in a) trailers or b) my own judgment. I should have learned my lesson about trailers-induced nerdgasms back when Watchmen disappointed me in a way no woman ever could, but nonetheless, here I am again, wishing that the movie could have been cancelled so that I could revel in its The Used-scored glory.
Instead of the swords-and-sandals epic I was expecting, the movie plays out like a checklist of creatures and confrontations from the trailer. Falling statue scene, check. Giant scorpions, check. Medusa scene, check. And, finally, Kraken scene, check. Playing out, however, these critters offer more suspense in their brief promotional flashes, as opposed to their full-length scenes. Even more unfortunately, these admittedly visually stunning encounters are the only thing the movie has to stand on. They’re checkpoints that are gone through with minimal reason or narrative connection. The whole thing probably would have worked better as a Super Nintendo game, rather than a movie.
The character running through these levels and battling bosses is Perseus (Sam Worthington), a character who is far more confused about his identity than even he realizes. Born, unknown to him, the son of a God, Zeus (Liam Neeson), Perseus is found, as a baby, by a fisherman, who takes him in and raises him as his own. Several years later, Perseus’ family is carelessly killed by Hades (Ralph Fiennes), which he, obviously, takes offense to. Once his parentage is revealed to him by Hades, who would have no real reason for telling him so, Perseus decides to defeat Hades’ pet Kraken, who is going to be unleashed on the city of Argos for their lack of faith, and then kill Hades himself.
All the way through this journey, Perseus insists that he is going to fight, and win, “as a man,” denying his recently discovered lineage. This, which we are supposed to recognize as noble, is supreme bullshit, as, in place of a training montage, we see that, as a Demi-God, Perseus is, without training, immediately able to subdue the gruff Argotian travelling partner who means to teach him a lesson. Perseus reluctantly accepts gifts from Zeus to help in his quest, continually undermining his defiance of the Gods. Instead of actively embracing his newfound identity, Perseus continues to exploit the benefits of his parentage, while continually denying them. Late in the movie, this dissonance is somewhat calmed by the so-cheesy-it-might-actually-be-good line “You’re not a man or a God; you’re the best of both” but it still leaves him a hybrid freak with no real alliance to anyone. Which would be compelling if his identity issues were actually addressed, but instead, it’s left as a continuous nuisance, rather than a plot element.
Aside from Perseus, the rest of the cast is mostly there to get killed by various creatures in order to make the threat seem more real. There are three that are particularly memorable, although for drastically different reasons. First are the two hunters (whose names I cannot remember and cannot discern from anyone else’s from the cast list), who, I assume, are meant to provide comic relief. They don’t. Then there’s the older guy who joins Perseus on his journey (no idea of his name for the same reasons). He, on the other hand, is actually funny, mostly because of his status as a grizzled older soldier who has lived enough to not really care what happens next. He knows what they’re going to face, but is still optimistic that they will return home safe. This is not unlike the optimism that I had for this movie, and, much like his character, my hope died about halfway through the movie.