Louis Leterrier’s remake of Clash of the Titans the 1981 cult favorite that fused Greek mythology with sci-fi theatrics is a grand experiment in the ancient art of alchemy a big-budget attempt to spin fanboy nostalgia for a 30-year-old novelty into contemporary box-office gold. The main ingredients in this ambitious concoction are a potent arsenal of CGI weaponry and the star of the biggest movie ever Sam Worthington who inherits Harry Hamlin’s role as the heroic Perseus. But it’s what’s missing from the formula that ultimately dooms this remake.
Clash of the Titans redux mimics the original film’s epic ethos and preference for spectacle over all else but its storyline differs dramatically. Perseus is still the half-breed product of a one-night stand between the god Zeus and a human hottie and he still must to defeat the monstrous Kraken in order to save the lovely Princess Andromeda. Almost everything in between however has been altered — and not necessarily for the better.
The new version casts the Greek city of Argos as the primary battleground in a proxy war fought by dueling Olympian superpowers Zeus (Liam Neeson) and Hades (Ralph Fiennes). Born of a god but raised by and partial to humans Worthington’s Perseus battles not for the hand of Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) — as Hamlin’s character did — but instead for the people of Argos who stand to perish along with their princess at the hands of the dreaded Kraken. The film’s love story if it can be called that consists of the briefest of flirtations between Perseus and Io (Gemma Arterton) his self-appointed spiritual guide. (Cursed with immortality by the gods Io’s been secretly watching him all his life — which ostensibly makes her a glorified stalker.)
This detail is a small but crucial one. Strong-willed Perseus braves an obstacle course of giant scorpions gorgons and other horrors laid out for him by the wheezy fiend Hades but it’s never quite clear why he bothers with it all since what’s at stake is a princess he isn’t particularly interested in and a community of people he doesn’t really know — and who frankly don’t seem all that worth saving. His deadbeat dad up on Mount Olympus certainly isn't worth dying for nor are the battlefield compatriots he met barely a week prior. And while I’m sure that a few inviting glances from Gemma Arterton are positively delightful I wouldn’t risk being doused in flesh-eating scorpion venom for them.
This narrative oversight triggers a drain in enthusiasm that persists throughout the film. For a movie so epic in scale Clash of the Titans makes for a disappointingly bland ride. Leterrier’s CGI set pieces are at times magnificent but they’re proffered in the service of weak story filled with characters whose motivations are either unclear or unconvincing. During the film’s climax when Neeson’s Zeus utters the portentous words “Release the Kraken ” what should be an emotional high point instead feels perfunctory and anticlimactic. The only excitement it spawns comes from the knowledge that the end is mercifully imminent.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
G.I. Joe is a top-secret multi-national special forces unit comprised of highly-trained physically attractive military personnel from around the world. Equipped with the latest in superawesome vehicles and weaponry and guided by the tough but fair General Hawk they take on the baddest of the bad guys the kind of terrorists that scoff at conventional organizations. As the General himself so aptly states “When all else fails we don’t.”
That credo is put to the test however when a shadowy terrorist group armed with even awesomer vehicles and weaponry like crazy-ass laser guns and computer-guided zombie troopers infiltrates the Joes’ compound and makes off with a cache of four WMDs each of which is capable of leveling an entire city. Do the men and women of G.I. Joe have what it takes to defeat these menacing new adversaries before they mount their next devastating attack?
WHO’S IN IT?
It takes an elite group of actors to play an elite group of soldiers and the cast of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is stocked with an abundance of Hollywood’s most talented performers all adorned in various types of leather fetish apparel. White Chicks star Marlon Wayans plays Ripcord a flight specialist who can pilot any type of airplane even enemy crafts that respond only to voice commands uttered in Celtic. Channing Tatum star of Step Up and Step Up 2: The Streets plays his best pal Duke a badass infantryman who knows no fear. Preeminent ginger chick Rachel Nichols showcases her fiery crimson locks as Scarlett a shrewd intel expert whose stoic exterior hides a growing attraction to Ripcord. Barking out the orders as General Hawk is Enemy Mine star Dennis Quaid.
On the side of the bad guys is the Baroness played by Factory Girl star Sienna Miller in a push-up bra dirty librarian glasses and a raven-colored dye job. She’s the point woman for McMullen a shady Scottish weapons magnate played by Christopher Eccleston. But McMullen is no ordinary shady Scottish weapons magnate; he’s covertly amassed a huge terrorist empire headquartered beneath the polar ice caps. It’s there that “The Doctor ” a horribly disfigured mad scientist played by (500) Days of Summer star Joseph Gordon-Levitt concocts all sorts of diabolical new weapons and gadgets to unleash on the innocent.
Oh and there are ninjas too. Good guy Snake Eyes played by Ray Park wears sleek black body armor while the evil Storm Shadow played by Byung-hun Lee runs around in a updated version of Elvis Presley’s classic all-white jumpsuit.
Loaded with scene after scene of high-tech action-movie eye candy G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra assaults the senses with such a relentless barrage of over-the-top stunts eye-popping visual effects and stylized fight sequences that only the most coldly cynical of viewers will be able to resist submitting to its visceral charms.
As with most sugary indulgences the sweet dizzying high is followed almost immediately by a painful crash. Feelings of guilt and shame start to simmer as you kick yourself for yielding to such soulless gluttony. The next morning you awake with a throbbing headache and a heart filled with regret. The following day a doctor informs you that you have adult-onset diabetes. So in a nutshell G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is the cinematic equivalent of adult-onset diabetes.
The scene where they have the big fight with all the advanced weapons and a whole bunch of stuff blows up. Oh wait that’s EVERY scene.
For the bulk of his performance Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s face is obscured by a bulky breathing apparatus and his voice is altered to sound like the computerized movie trailer's narrator. Which makes one wonder why they bothered to hire a name actor for the role in the first place.
October 12, 2004 12:05pm EST
Reeve's animated feature moves forward
Yankee Irving, a computer-animated feature film that Christopher Reeve had been directing at the time of his death last weekend, will remain in production, producer Morris Berger told The Associated Press yesterday. But Berger said IDT Entertainment had not yet decided who will take over as director. "We've just been addressing personal issues and the great loss and reassuring our staff that the production will go on," he said. "Tomorrow we'll think those things through." Yankee Irving is about a father and his baseball playing son who overcomes personal obstacles to realize his dreams. Reeve, who had overseen the project for the past year, once described it as "captivating, with the perfect blend of warmth and wit." Reeve had been overseeing the film's production from his home office in Pound Ridge, N.Y., through a videoconferencing system set up by IDT, and regularly sent electronic files of character designs and animatics filled with notes to the company's animation production offices. Voice casting and theatrical distribution for Yankee, which is scheduled for release sometime in 2006, have yet to be announced. The Superman star died Sunday after suffering a heart attack and slipping into a coma the previous day. He was 52.
FCC to fine Fox for indecency violation
The Federal Communications Commission is reportedly preparing to levy a $1 million fine against Fox Broadcasting Co. and its affiliates for indecency violations dating back to April 2003 with an episode of the reality show Married by America, Reuters reports. According to Monday's edition of Television Week, the content in question involved lascivious banter among Married contestants and a segment that involved contestants licking whipped cream off each other's bodies. The weekly newspaper reported the fine stemmed from a complaint lodged by watchdog group the Parents Television Council. The fine comes less than a month after the FCC formally issued its $550,000 fine against CBS for Janet Jackson breast-baring incident during the Super Bowl telecast in February 2003.
Travolta to guest star on Alley's Fat Actress
Kirstie Alley, whose upcoming Showtime series Fat Actress is set to debut in March, will be in good company. The AP reports Alley's Look Who's Talking co-star John Travolta will make a guest appearance on the seven-episode, unscripted comedy series. Based on Alley's real-life struggles, the show follows a semi-fictional film and TV star as she comically contends with an unforgiving public and media over her struggles with weight. The actors will largely improvise based on a story outline. Travolta joins several guest stars slated for the reality hybrid, including his own actress wife, Kelly Preston, NBC Universal TV Group President Jeff Zucker and Hangin' With Mr. Cooper's Mark Curry.
Democrats want anti-Kerry docu shelved
The Democratic Party is expected to file a complaint today with the Federal Election Commission against the broadcasting company Sinclair Broadcast Group for their plans to air a documentary criticizing presidential candidate John Kerry, the AP reports. Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal, made by Vietnam veteran and former journalist Carlton Sherwood, chronicles Kerry's 1971 testimony before Congress and includes interviews with Vietnam prisoners of war and their wives, who claim Kerry's testimony demeaned them and led their captors to hold them longer. Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe argues Sinclair is acting as a mouthpiece for the Republican Party rather than a legitimate news outlet. Campaign finance records show that company's executives have donated thousands of dollars to Bush's campaign.
Cates to take on Academy Awards again
Gil Cates has signed on to produce next year's Academy Awards, making it his 12th time behind the star-studded Hollywood bash, AP reports. "With 11 shows under his belt, no other producer, living or dead, even comes close to the depth of Gil's experience," said Frank Pierson, President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. "We're lucky to have him back." Cates added, "I already have ideas whirling around in my head and can't wait to see them through to fruition on Oscar night." The 77th Academy Awards will be preceded by the telecast of the Academy's official pre-show red carpet arrivals from 5 to 5:30 p.m., which Cates will also executive produce.
Apprentice Troy McClain shopping for a college
Troy McClain, who was fired by Donald Trump during the first season of the TV reality show The Apprentice, is currently fielding offers from several colleges and universities, including Boise State, Columbia University and Albertson College of Idaho. McClain, who was one of the most successful and popular members on the inaugural season of The Apprentice, later said on his Tonight Show appearance it was his lack of a college degree eventually did him in. Trump heard his comment and offered to send McClain to the college of his choice. "This man, with an education, will be unbeatable," Trump said at the time. McClain started looking hard at Boise State after President Bob Kustra contacted him personally over the summer, his manager Ed Moore told the AP.
Madonna, Prince top Billboard touring awards
Madonna is one of the top finalist for Billboard's Backstage Pass Awards, which recognizes top achievements in touring and are based on ticket sales tabulated in Billboard's Boxscore Reports, LaunchMusic reports. Other finalists include Prince, Shania Twain, Josh Groban, Linkin Park and John Mayer. The awards will be presented Nov. 8 and 9 in New York.
Kit Bowen contributed to this report.