What is there to really say about this film from almost a decade ago? Likely, with age, there isn’t any more to say now than when it first released, but I supposed there are a few words that I can conjure now that time has left any expectations at the door.
A big part of this film’s advertising before release was the heavy featuring of the Kraken: posters, trailers, and more all featured the Kraken. It was badass. What wasn’t badass, though, was how in the theatrical release, the Kraken turned out to be present for like, literally twenty minutes of the movie. Not even.
Obviously, people weren’t too happy. Years later, though, and the tears of action-adventure fanboys notwithstanding, the film fares better without the expectation of a giant aquatic badass hanging over them. Certainly, the film isn’t remarkable, but as a product situated in a heavily conventional, usually reactionary, genre, it does an admirable job of putting the pieces where they are expected for a summer actioneer based loosely on Greek Mythology.
The story follows that of Perseus as he comes to terms with his Demigodhood. Rescued from an undersea coffin when he was but a lad, a fisherman raised him. Unfortunately, upon growing into a man, his adoptive father died in a freak accident and Perseus sets out for revenge in a world torn apart by Human-on-God violence.
I am not expert in Greek Mythology. Right now such isn’t the purview of this blog. However, I have read that certain books in the Arthurian mythology do feature Merlyn being discovered in an undersea box pulled to shore by a fisherman (such as in the 90s fantasy book Taliesin by Stephen R. Lawhead, review forthcoming). Obviously, then, I was surprised to see it feature in this reworked bit of Greek Mythology.
Now, I do not know if this thread of ocean pulling originates in Greek or Arthurian mythology, but Arthurian mythology does make itself know through the use of everyone’s favorite narrative trope, the “Fair Unknown.”
In that trope, a youth of great origins must find his way to greatness despite his humble rearing. This trope is a lot like “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” in that it is a reactionary, bloodline sort of Great Man legitimation. And, of course, our protagonist Perseus fits all those notches perfectly, from his siring by Zeus to his rearing by a fisherman to making his way to a literal palace.
I expect Arthurian tropes in Arthurian texts. Not necessarily pre-Arthurian mythology. That’s why I have thought about the ideas which underline this aspect of Arthurian mythology and how popular they were before Arthurian narratives popularized them. Obviously, I haven’t the time to study such things right now, but if you have any such understanding of these concepts and wish to share, please comment.
Other than how the film utilizes mythology, there isn’t much more to say about Clash of the Titans.
The story is boring but what would you expect from a popcorn fest? The acting is meh from most actors with Liam Neeson’s performance being the best if still marginalized and unconventional in his characterization of Zeus. Yeah. I mean, that’s it: it is just a typical action-adventure movie.
What can be said about the film, though, I enjoyed it more this time around than the first time that I watched it. Without the glossy commercials or the epic thrill of the Kraken, I was able to just watch the film and enjoy looking a depiction of Greek Myth where the gods are reliant on humanity’s prayers to sustain their omnipotence. I was able to watch for mythological references and how the director treated its inspiration.
Does this mean that Clash of the Titans is a superb film? No. But with age, it is revealed to be a good if albeit unremarkable mythological hack and slash epic. And really, that is all we can expect from a movie that only ever inspired awe from a sea beast.