Pulling in heavyweight talents such as Liam Neeson (Zeuss) and Ranulph Fiennes as “Hades”, with Sam Worthington, action man du jour, as “Perseus”.
Following a very brief scene setting family tragedy, good to see Pete Postlethwaite albeit in a brief role, we are off on our adventure with barely time for “Perseus” to do up his sandals properly.
It is interesting how the many Greek mythology references, coins on the eyes of corpses, paying the ferryman in the underworld, Medusa turning unfortunates to stone are laboriously explained for a modern audience. Any child with a “classical” education used to know this “useful” stuff, how times change, for better or worse.
Whether modern audiences really can buy into lines such as “I’d rather die in the mud with those men than live forever as a god”, without having a quick furtive giggle is debatable. At times the cast look exactly what they are, actors dressed in silly costumes on a very large set with lots of smoke. The suspension of disbelief is necessary for such a story and on occasion, this is difficult to muster.
The action sequences are excellent, albeit necessarily CGI heavy. Gigantic scorpions being in short supply without the legendary stop motion pioneer, Ray Harryhausen to animate them. The violence is very PC friendly but enough to get the general idea and the cast give it their all, in what must have been difficult acting circumstances.
The story is reasonably well known but revolves around Humans being toyed with by Greek Gods as political infighting between Zeus and Hades spills over into the human arena. A quest is launched and Worthington must confront the terrifying Kraken to save the day or at least the city of Argos. Point of note, the Kraken must have a good agent as it seems to be in almost every blockbuster film these days.
Directed by Lois Leterrier, this film plays the action straight and is a fairly linear and straightforward recount of the tale, all dressed in blockbuster clothing. The film is also available in 3D, albeit somewhat retrofitted rather than originally planned for.
Fiennes “Release the Kraken” and Neeson, look somewhat uncomfortable, almost as if they realise this could all go horribly wrong leaving them horribly exposed. There is the occasional Olympus set scene which is reminiscent of a well funded school play, but generally the leads get away with their credibility intact, just.
The final Kraken attack is well done but exists almost entirely in the computer, almost a CGI show reel rather than a movie finale.
To ensure that the film attracts the target audience we are also provided with both Gemma Arterton (Lo) and Alexa Davalos (Andromeda). Lo being blessed, or cursed to never age and provides a handy counterpart for Worthingtons gruff Aussie persona complete with barely diluted “down under” accent. Andromeda also offers an opportunity to provide damsel in distress material and a ready sacrifice to placate the rather annoyed Kraken.
Acting honours go to Madds Mikkelson as Draco who teaches Perseus to fight. He is believable and does his best to anchor the scenes with some semblance of reality.
The story is really about Perseus denying his demi god status and refusing all extra tools available to him, a sword forged in Olympus and the Black Pegasus, preferring to fight the gods as a man. This resolve appears to fall away when the going gets tough but generally the principal is there, despite his father Zeus giving him the occasional leg up.
The very definition of a summer popcorn movie with blockbuster pretentions.
Very light and with some rather dubious acting in amongst a smorgasbord of CGI effects.
Mildly diverting but arriving with the mildest of recommendations and even then, only if “bring me the head of Medusa”, is likely to float your boat.