Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Rewatch: Clash of the Titans

2010, Louis Leterrier (The Incredible Hulk) -- bluray

Another one from The Shelf. I needed some swords & sandals. I needed some mythology.

So, it is the story of half-god Perseus told through the eyes of a remake of a classic stop motion animation movie from the 80s. The original is a D&D standard, encouraging people to fight skeletons and appending robot owls to every wizard's arm. I believe it was the last of the swords & sandals staples of the late 70s, ala the Sinbad or Biblical stories. I am not surprised they remade it. I am surprised there was less discussion on the casting back then.

I get it, the ubiquitous Internet lends itself to louder outrage. And the smallest of voices can be loud if shared in the right venue. But when you compare the roars against Gods of Egypt to the relative quiet around this movie that was only six years ago, it's kind of odd. I suspect a weird aspect of white privilege is that we only really notice something as being wrong, if it's obviously wrong. We see Greeks, and Mediterraneans in general, as white, so it's OK if the mains in the movie are played by Australians (Sam Worthington), Irish (Liam Neeson), and English (Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton). Alex Davalos sounds like she has a Greek name, but she isn't. No Greeks in the cast. I would love to see reviews of the movie from Greece. I have a feeling they have been rolling their eyes for decades of movies.

Meanwhile Egyptians are most definitively brown, at least in our eyes. There are probably plenty of light skinned Egyptians out there, but when you have their gods represented by Gerard Butler and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, it stands out as silly and offensive. To us. Us in North America. To me. It's just glaringly wrong. Again, I wonder what Egyptians have to say. How do they feel about the movie and how do they feel about the white west being offended on their behalf? I am going to see the movie, as it is Alex Proyas, and I do suspect that they separate the gods (white, golden hued, really tall) from their people in the movie but that has its own level of offensiveness.

But for now, this movie.

It's a fun movie! Perseus loses his family to the squabbles between the Gods and the humans who are deciding they don't want to be forced to worship anymore. And then he is dragged into the squabble after Hades reveals to all that Perseus is half-god himself. First he knew of it and now he's wandering off with a bunch of bitter soldiers to ask the Stygian Witches how to kill the Kraken. You see, if Argos doesn't sacrifice their princess to Hades, he will unleash (ahem, release) the Kraken on the city. If the humans won't worship the gods, they will at least fear them. Meanwhile, Hades has his own machinations going on, as he is pissed at his older brother Zeus.

The Adventuring Party wanders off through forests and deserts, with enough low level red armours (yah, mixing my pop culture metaphors) to be killed by wandering monsters, leaving the main characters (including Mads Mikkelsen and Liam Cunningham) and their immortal NPC guide (Gemma Arterton) to defeat the Gorgon, i.e. Medusa. With head in hand, Perseus flies on Pegasus back to Argos to defeat the Kraken and win the love of his dad and the people. As I said, D&D standard.

The core of the plot of this movie is that the gods need the humans, the humans don't need the gods. Without prayers, the power of the gods diminishes. Perseus and his family were just collateral damage but the reveal of his own godhood has made him petulant and bitter. Seriously dude, you are a tougher fishermen than all those veteran soldiers. It's in your blood. Accept the help of Zeus, who feels a little forced into this action by the goading of his brother, and use the magic sword. Do  the deed, impress the locals and then move on. It won't make you as power drunk as the gods, just give you an edge up on the monsters. But it takes until the end of the movie, and the death of EVERYONE in the party, for him to realize this and defeat the bad guy.

After that he has no issue accepting help, especially when it's the return of the girl of his dreams. And for once, the movie is NOT about him getting the princess.