Monday, April 5, 2010

My Favorite Movie This Year

Friday night, Danny and I decided we wanted to go see a movie, something light and silly. After watching Liam Neeson pronounce the releasing of the Kraken for several weeks during TV commercials, we decided to give Louis Leterrier's Clash of the Titans remake a go.

Oh. My. Goodness.

It's tricky, pulling off a decent, silly popcorn flick. There's a fine line between silly and stupid. Many start strong and get snoozy in the second act.

I am thrilled to tell you that Clash of the Titans has it all, except I don't think the Titans ever make much of an appearance. Whatever. We've got a Demigod who'd rather be fishing, an assortment of scarred, well-meaning military men, hunters who can kill anything - anything! There's a princess who's about to be sacrificed to a hideous monster (an age old tradition), an a mysterious cloaked woman. Oh, and kindly people with a short lifespan. And a Kraken. And jinn.

Yeah, Jinn. Because it's important to be multi-cultural in movies about Greek Mythology. Nothing says white bread like many men in mini-skirts.

Yes, mini-skirts. Before William Wallace, there was Perseus. And Perseus wasn't afraid to show more leg.

Where was I? Oh, yeah - the fact that Clash has everything. I saved the best for last.

It's Liam Neeson. And he's glowing.

So. The Plot. We've got Perseus (Sam Worthington, of Avatar fame), who was found as a baby by a friendly fisherman. Raised a fisherman, he leads an idyllic life on a boat with his foster family until...well...

Let's just say the idyllic existence ends. Through a series of unfortunate events. Perseus makes it into Argos, barefoot, and is trotted into the palace. This is a palace of depravity, but we know it won't stay that way! We meet the princess, who's the original rebellious child, annoying her parents by feeding starving children and giving water to strangers.

She's a real pill, the princess.

Anyway, Hades (Ralph Fiennes) comes in, spoils the party, and figures out that Perseus is no just a fisherman, but a Demigod. Wow! But Perseus is told to lay low for the time being by Io, The Mysterious Hooded Woman (Gemma Arterton, Quantum of Solace, Prince of Persia)...


...who has pretty good advice. Next thing he knows, Perseus is shipped off with the remaining troops to perform a series of tasks designed to save the Princess from being sacrificed to the Kraken.

Perseus learns to fight like a man from Draco (Mads Mikkelson, the top-notch Danish actor from Casino Royale and After the Wedding) in a sequence that may remind you of the "Be a Man" song from Mulan. It might not. But if it does, you'll enjoy it that much more.

Nicholas Hoult (About a Boy, A Single Man) also has a role, with the Band of Courageous Soldiers, and a bunch of other people who are tricky to place because, you know, they've all got names like "Eusebios" and "Kepheus."

We also see Danny Huston (Marie Antoinette, The Constant Gardener) briefly as Poseidon.

The adventure takes us across deserts, up mountainous crags, and into the underworld (and when the ferryman pulls up, don't you half expect it to be Johnny Depp? At least a little?). It doesn't mean much, but it's great fun. There are lengthy battles with very large mythical creatures. The plot progresses, and it's Time to Release the Kraken (believe me, this is so not a spoiler, at least not if you own a TV). Liam Neeson is so good at what he does, that we can watch him say the line in an edited snippet for weeks, and it doesn't take away from the moment.

Maybe even made it better. Who knows. Neeson is also able to make Zeus (did I mention he plays Zeus? No? Sorry.) likable, which if you're familiar with the character, is really something. He is able to release the Kraken with an impressive amount of dignity, considering that Krakens (or Kraki?) don't actually exist in Greek Mythology (read about it here), but neither do jinn, and it doesn't matter, because we're in this for a good time.

And it is. It's a good time, guided by fresh young newcomers in Sam Worthington and Gemma Arterton, and a supporting cast of actor's actors. Everyone is dead serious about their work, and their stiff upper lips pay off. The movie looks great, the effects are top notch.

Who's the audience for the movie? People who like taking their adventure films with a grain of salt. Adults who enjoyed the animated Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Movie goers wanting to see Liam Neeson looking more radiant than ever.

Did I mention there's a happy ending? All's well that ends well. And starts with a Kraken.

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