My friend Simon Weaving summed up my feelings about Wrath of the Titans beautifully in his Canberra Times film review last weekend.
“Once again the half god Perseus is played by the half actor Sam Worthington, who grunts and grimaces his way through the physical role, covered in dust and in desperate need of a voice coach.”
I can’t bring myself to go see this one, I sat through the previous film, Clash of the Titans, tragically sober. There are certain films that shouldn’t be reviewed on a star rating, there should be cocktail glasses lined up to show you how many drinks you need under your belt first.
In this case I would estimate at least four cocktails, each mixed with a minimum of three very expensive spirits. Maybe that’s what the writers were drinking when they came up with the script? For a start they seem to have gotten the legend of Perseus’ birth mixed up with Heracles and King Arthur, having Zeus take on the guise of a queen’s husband to seduce her. Now what’s wrong with the original myth, where Zeus woos Princess Danae, locked up in a tower, taking on the form of a shower of golden light? That’s right, it is indeed described in the stories as ‘a golden shower’!
But in this film you have orphaned Perseus raised by fisher folk and resentful of his half-god heritage. Adding insult to injury in this sullen portrayal of Perseus is Australia’s own Sam Worthington, struggling with what ever accent he’s been asked to adopt. This was another lost opportunity, to pay tribute to the fact that Melbourne has the world’s largest Greek population outside of Athens by talking like a character from The Wog Boy. Instead he aims for sulky-bogan.
The film plods along, having sulky Perseus chuck away the one thing that could have saved the film. In a nod to the original 1981 film we see Perseus scrabbling through a weapon’s chest and coming across the bronze statue of Bubo the owl.
Bubo was a huge part of the original film, a gift from Athena the Goddess of Wisdom, Bubo guided Perseus through his battles with the Medusa and valiantly tried to take on the giant sea monster all by himself. In the remake did our hero recognise Bubo for the asset he undoubtedly was? Instead sullen and short sighted Perseus throws the wondrous Bubo over his shoulder with a dismissive snort. Sacrilege! I should have walked out at that point.
Instead I foolishly stayed, only to get crosser and crosser with each ridiculous plot twist and overblown fight sequence. The turning point was when they just started randomly throwing in other countries' myths by adding a Djin to mix. And even that they got wrong, making it not a magical creatures granting wishes but some kind of desert dwelling human/wood hybrid. That would have been the point that I took a long pull from a hip flask if only I’d had the foresight to bring one along.
I know the original 1981 Clash of the Titans movie had its flaws but compared to the remake we’re talking Shakespearean pathos and drama. Not only did it have the stopmotion effects of Ray Harryhausen, it had TV’s very own Penguin from Batman, Burgess Meredith, as a blind seer.
At least it didn’t have this weird twist where Perseus ends up going off with Io, who isn’t even meant to be in the damn story! She’s got her own myth where Zeus the serial adulterer is cheating on his wife Hera, and turns Io into a heifer when his wife gets suspicious. That Zeus sure was a charmer wasn’t he?
But in this piece of rubbish she is ‘cursed with agelessness', something Madonna wishes she'd get as divine punishment. I’m assuming a sometime cow-woman can only be cursed so many times and Fate has spared poor Io from the sequel, according to the synopsis I forced myself to read Perseus is now a single dad raising his son in some desolate fishing hovel.
You know I never thought I’d say this, but it makes those campy TV New Zealand produced TV shows The Legendary Journeys of Hercules and Xena Warrior Princess, seem like authentic retellings worthy of study in university tutorials the world over.
They certainly had the best portrayal of Ares, the God of War. The late Kevin Smith was truly spectacular, swaggering around in leather pants and a lustful leer.
Sam Worthington would have done well to take notes.
Mind you Clash of the Titans isn’t the only erroneous portrayal of the Olympian gods that I take exception to this month, I see that good old Ferrero Rocher have trotted out their annual Easter chocolate ad. This is the one that goes “the Olympian gods really knew how to celebrate…Easter!” and it always makes me laugh. Yes I’m sure the Olympians were really celebrating the rise of a religion that superseded them.