November 12, 2011 -- This sword and sorcery epic looks better than “Clash of the Titans” but is just as forgettable in every other way. It's got a weak story, weak characters, weak acting and a lot of blood and gore. Except for the blood and other ugly dark themes, that makes it pretty typical of the genre. If you like a lot of blood and gore, most of it lovingly displayed in slow motion, then you'll probably like this film. If you like a well-written, well-acted, character-driven story, skip this. It works well enough as pure superficial action movie spectacle, with one notable fan boy semi erotic sex scene, but that is all you can expect from this.
Like most sword and sorcery movies, with the exception of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, this film is long on spectacle and action and short on everything else. It follows the story of Theseus (played by Henry Cavill) as he leads a small group of survivors against mad King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke of “Iron Man 2”) and his huge army in ancient Greece. When Hyperion kills his mother, Theseus swears revenge, but the virgin oracle Phaedra (Freida Pinto of “Slumdog Millionaire”) forsees that he might actually help Hyperion in his quest to release the Titans to battle the gods. So Phaedra sticks with Theseus and tries to prevent him from teaming up with Hyperion. No motive is revealed in the story for Theseus to help Hyperion.
After escaping from the clutches of Hyperion's evil forces, Theseus, Phaedra and Stavros (Stephen Dorff of “World Trade Center”) and a few others head toward the scene of a great battle brewing between Hyperion's forces and those of the remaining free Greek armies. Zeus (Luke Evans) informs the other gods that they are not to interfere in this matter, even though Zeus himself has been interfering plenty, appearing as an old man (John Hurt of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”) and giving Theseus advice from time to time. Of course the other gods, being gods, can't resist helping here and there, arousing the wrath of Zeus. For some reason Zeus has decided not to get involved in human affairs unless the Titans are released from captivity, which would seem like very bad timing. Again, no explanation for this. The gods have been keeping a low profile for a long time, enough so that most Greeks in the movie don't seem to believe they even exist.
So it comes down to a big battle between the Greek armies and between the gods and the titans. Everything is very bloody, in a cartoonish, stylized way. Uglier than the decapitations, the impaling, hacking off of various body parts, however, are the underlying sado-masochistic and homoerotic undertones of the movie, something it shares in common with “300.” Hyperion isn't shown raping anyone but he certainly declares his intention to rape women and spread his genetic legacy far and wide. However, if he really wanted to further his stated ambitions, he'd have to spend all his time copulating, instead of fighting. He furthers his ambition by ordering a possible competing sperm donor emasculated with a large hammer. There is some real ugly stuff in this film.
While the look of the film is amazing at times, with fantastic cliff dwellings, awesome seaside cliff scenery, bright visions of Olympus and gods, and the stunning, sexy beauty of Frida Pinto, much of the film is shrouded in dark ugliness (I saw this in 2D, apparently, the 3D version is even darker because of inadequate 3D projection brightness in many theaters). As an action film it works well enough, if you ignore the uglier themes in the film, but it fails in every other way. This film rates a C.
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