Thursday, April 1, 2010

Grave Reviews #8


Director: Louis Leterrier

Starring: Sam Worthington, Gemma Arterton, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Mads Mikkelsen.

During a storm, a fisherman finds an ornate coffin floating in the sea. Inside he finds a crying newborn lying on his dead mother. He raises the child as his own and names him Perseus, and while teaching him his trade, makes no secret of his origins though most of it is a mystery.

About 20 years later the people of Greece, especially the people of Argos have grown weary of the God's ruling them and in an act of defiance destroy their towering statue of Zeus on their coast. Perseus and his family witness this, and Hades seeks revenge through Harpies and his own appearance, where Hades murders Perseus' family with a fireball sending their ship to the bottom of the sea.

The surviving Praetorian Guard take Perseus back to Argos, where the King and Queen declare an end to the rule of the Gods, name themselves Gods on Earth and their own daughter Andromeda more beautiful than Aphrodite. On Hades request Zues sends his brother to make an example of the people of Argos, killing the rest of the soldiers, (and is surprised to see Perseus immune to his magics) damning the prideful Queen to old age and death, and threatens Argos with destruction on the coming solar eclipse with his Kraken if they do not sacrifice Andromeda to him.

Now both the Gods and the people of Argos know a demi-god walks on the Earth in the form of Perseus, who is the son of Zeus (accidently) born to a Queen who was seduced by Zeus as punishment to King Acrisius for defying him in a futile war at the base of Mt Olympus. The King has the wife and bastard child murdered by Perseus survives due to his unique heritage. Later on he is gifted with dark power by Hades to destroy the bastard son of his dead wife in an effort to upset Zeus and also protect his own immortal skin from revenge.

Along with Draco, the leader of the Praetorian Guard, Perseus leads a quest first to the Stygian Witches for information on defeating the Kraken, and then to the underworld, Charon and the River Styx to do battle with Medusa. Will the party survive Giant Scorpions, Medusa, and the Kraken to save Argos and Andromeda? Will Perseus accept his father's offer of sanctuary to live as a God in Olympus, and who is the ageless Io who watched over him since his birth and aids Perseus on his quest? Has mortal man bit the hand that feeds them too many times, and is Zeus justified in destroying the very beings he created and loved to make an example?

I saw this movie in 3D* and let's get this part out of the way first. The 3D was good for the most part, though lifting my glassed occasionally to check the entire film didn't seem to be in 3D. There was a problem with Ghosting in the film especially with Hades, and one or two times with Zeus that I found rather annoying. A lot of critics are pulling the 3D version apart and also commented on the Ghosting problem, suggesting that you watch the film in regular 2D and I agree. I am afraid the AVATAR curse will plague other 3D films for some time, because if you've seen that film and you watch this and others in 3D format you'll find the others sorely lacking.

I enjoyed the modern update to the story though, especially the new additons such as the Djinn, Arab Warriors who delve in black magic to expand their power and lifespan and weild an fantastic blue flame ability that can harm or heal. Their entire body seems to be of this fire as their eyes glow electric blue and their hearts burned with the same blue fire. They also replace their damaged and missing limbs and skin with bark and wood, which when facing a Gorgon is quite an advantage.

Aside from the slightly dodgy 3D effects the movie's own special effects were spectacular. Besides the black magic of the Djinn, the giant scorpions, The Gorgon, Kraken and scenes of Olympus were well developed. The battle scenes were great and fast-paced (though I found the final battle between Perseus and Hades disappointng), and the Gorgon fight had me on the edge of my seat. I found it a bit strange that Perseus having no former warrior training could suddenly beat Draco in his first sword fight let alone start performing somersaults or gaining unconscious access to his abilities such as lightning summoning. This was explained as 'the God in Him", and though I realise the exposition of the story was only 106 minutes it still was a slight stretch.

In regards to performances, I like Sam Worthington (Aussie Oi! Oi!), but I've yet to see anything real awe-inspiring from him. I've seen Avatar and T:4 as well, and while he has charisma I think he needs to find a role that is more emotional to win my vote. Liam Neeson once more plays the leader and Mentor role this time in his visitations to Perseus, along with bestowing him with a magic sword, flying horse and gold coin for Charon.

Besides Ra's Al Ghul from Batman Begins along with Qui Gon Jinn from Star Wars, he almost seems to fall into a bit of a mentor typecast rut much like Ralph Fiennes is as a dial-a-villain with his portayal of Hades along with Voldemort from Harry Potter. I enjoyed his rendition as Hades still, it was more sublime and less corny than Voldemort and the SFX for his powers were awesome. Gemma Arterton is stunning in this, and plays Io, cursed with agelessness because she declined a God's advances. A great gift some might say, but as she mentions to Perseus she lives while those she loves die, something he should be sympathetic too.

Mads Mikkelsen was great as Draco, head of the Praetorian Guard, and I hadn't seem him in film since playing Le Chiffre in Casino Royale. His lack of humour and stoic demeanor comes from years of combat, and he himself states he will smile for the first time when he spits in the eyes of the Gods. Just like Zeus he acts like a mentor to Perseus and is responsible for him embracing his God like gifts to win the day, even though he himself desires a Twilight of the Gods.

For the rest of the cast, and I mean this seriously, see how many of the People of Argos and Praetorian Guard you recognise from the film 300. I counted at least three. The Queen of Argos was Atia from HBOs ROME series,.

The movie is an enjoyable action romp, and a great update to the original (that I didn't really care for, I found it camp and lame) but like other reviewers I suggest you see it in good ol' fashioned 2D.

I have two grades for this film. For 3D I give it a B-. If I was to see it in 2D I would give it B+

*My cinema seemed to only offer CLASH OF THE TITANS in 3D, which giving the errors in its translation from 2D is probably not a smart move.


  1. I'm not into all the remakes (LEAVE FRIGHT NIGHT ALONE!), but this one looks like it might actually be good and I do have fond childhood memories of the first one (which at one point I thought was campy, but it has now entered that sacred childhood memory space so I totally love it!)

  2. Thanks Nicole,

    This film was more manly and gritty than the toga-wearing original, and I found Harry Hamlin too much of a pretty boy for my tastes. Of course this film owes some of it's look and feel to 300 and Troy among other historical fantasties and that's fine if done correctly, but as I said just try in see in in plain 2D.

    In regards to Fright Night remake, I don't like your chances. From what I understand the original director Tom Holland is behind it.

    Chris Sarandon aka Jerry Dandridge is going to be playing a Peter Vincentesque role because of the actor's experience in real life with the original from what I've read so far...

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