By Susan JAMES
Warner Bros. new 3-D offering, “Clash of the Titans,” enters with a roar and goes out with a whimper.
Starring Sam Worthington, the sci fi soldier of “Avatar,” and helmed by French director Louis Leterrier, “Titans” is a non-stop cymbal crash of breathless battles against monsters so familiar you will find yourself muttering, “OK, giant scorpion-crabs, check. Medusa, check. Kraken, check.” We’ve seen it all before and 3-D doesn’t make it any better.
Worthington plays the hero demigod Perseus, son of Zeus and a mortal, who like “Percy Jackson” a month ago has daddy issues with his divine father.
Curiously, there are no titans in “Titans,” only gods with flaws and humans with hubris. The gods need human worship to flourish. Humans are sick of the gods playing with them like toys
Hades (another evil turn by Voldamort impersonator Ralph Fiennes) has a grudge against older brother Zeus (Liam Neeson) and wants to take his place as head honcho of Olympus.When the king and queen of Argos decide to go to war against Zeus, it doesn’t take a genius to see that this is a very bad idea. In revenge for their disloyalty, Zeus allows Hades to loose the Kraken against humanity.
Perseus, the reluctant, must go mano y mano with the monster.
In the telling of this tale, director Leterrier has made some very strange choices.The Olympian gods don’t wear classical drapery but shiny, eye-blinding suits of armor. They sit in a circle like knights of the round table with Zeus as a thundering Greek King Arthur. When in a moment of parental affection, Zeus visits Perseus, he appears dressed as an Old Testament prophet on the road to Damascus.
This cross-cultural flavor extends to the residents of Argos themselves who come from all over the globe and include blond Indian fakirs and West African shamen.
The actors add to the confusion with a towering babel of foreign accents from Neeson’s Irish to Worthington’s Aussie to Mads Mikkelsen’s heavy Danish. Maybe ancient Argos teamed with foreigners but it’s hard to find a Greek among them.
One-note performances get lost in the special effects. Worthington is a stoic stalwart with two expressions, grim and determined. The fair maidens who frolic on the sidelines look mildly alarmed when threatened by CGI monsters and are barely distinguishable from each other. The director has chosen to introduce Perseus’ companions in the quest to kill the Medusa as a group of fighters with identical rasta braids and dirty faces.No one has a name and the only way to tell them apart is by their accents. Nobody lives long enough for the audience to care anyway.
Acting props go to Pete Postlethwaite as Perseus’ foster father, Spyros. With a handful of scenes, he makes an impression.
Lacking any emotional connection between the characters and not one surprise in the plot, “Clash of the Titans” is big, loud and violent but, unlike the ill-fated Spyros, even in 3-D it makes little impression.
See you at the movies!