Aged cheese with a 3-D option
Clash of the Titans is ancient Greece at its cheesiest. It's a big hunk of feta comin' at ya in 3-D — that is, if you subject yourself to this mythical-gods silliness in the stereoscopic format available in many theaters.
(A note about that: don't bother. Unlike Avatar, Clash of the Titans was 3-D-ized on the cheap; it's a low-end conversion that essentially gives the actors and CG- computer-generated monsters a dimensional shadow. There's nothing particularly impressive about it.)
A remake of the even-cheesier 1981 Clash, with Harry Hamlin and the great stop-motion monsters of Ray Harryhausen, French action maestro Louis Leterrier's Olympian endeavor assembles Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Avatar's Sam Worthington (Perseus with an Aussie accent!), and scores of British thespians and Eurobabes to tell the tale of a war between gods and men. It's an epic conflagration that pits the restless rabble against a clique of ethically challenged deities who don't know what to do with all their free time.
Like a good Bible story, Clash of the Titans begins with a voice-over telling us that "into this world a child was born." And behold the little demigod Perseus, found in a floating sarcophagus by a humble fisherman (Pete Postlethwaite) and his wife (Elizabeth McGovern). The couple raise him as their own, teach him how to fish, and then, when he grows into a strapping bloke (with an Aussie accent), the family's boat is sent to the bottom of the sea in a raging storm of demons unleashed by Hades, god of the underworld. Mom and Dad drown, but Perseus survives, embarking on a quest to end Hades' reign of terror and teach that smug Zeus — Perseus' biological father — a thing or two.
Zeus and Hades don't get along, a fact that has much to do with ego, temperament, and celestial allegiances, but also because the two bearded and bewigged gents playing the gods — Neeson as Zeus, Fiennes as Hades — can't agree on how to pronounce Kraken. The Kraken, of course, is the "colossal and elemental beast," and "the unspeakable horror" unleashed from the ocean's depths to mess with people's heads, and homes, and cities. Neeson, of Irish origin, prefers craaack-en; Fiennes, English to the core, says krah-kin. Let the battle begin.
Clash of the Titans does a nice job giving the giant mythical creatures — blood scorpions, sea snakes, the winged black horse Pegasus — a retro-fantasy feel, even if they were digitally rendered. Medusa, whom Perseus must slay if he is to send Hades back to the underground, is essentially a giant CG serpent sporting a black brassiere and the head of a fetching Russian supermodel (Natalia Vodianova). Her coif: a dreadlock-y mess of snakes.
Gemma Arterton, the Bond girl, is Io, Perseus' bare-shouldered guardian angel. Alexa Davados is Andromeda, who, when things get bad, is tethered to a sacrificial altar. She dangles over the Argos bay for hours, hanging by her arms. (Hence, the Andromeda strain?)
There are many obstacles along Perseus' path: three Stygian witches with one eye among them; the river Styx; the aforementioned scorpions; and, ultimately, the half-snake, half-cover girl Medusa, who turns you to stone if you make the mistake of looking at her.
So try not to. Especially with those 3-D glasses.