Clash of the Titans (2010)

Reviewer: Charity Bishop

   

Christian apologist C.S. Lewis once called Christianity "the myth that came true." His theory was that all ancient myths pointed toward the arrival of Christ. Clash of the Titans might be a heavily altered foray into Greek mythology, but the religious symbolism is stunning.
 
Being a god used to come with a certain amount of clout, but now the human race Zeus (Liam Neeson) created with such love has turned against him. They are no longer interested in believing in him, in bowing to his commands, or in sending up the prayers he requires in order to remain strong. His retaliation against one mortal king that stands against him results in the birth of a child, who is set adrift on the high seas and adopted by an unsuspecting fisherman and his wife. Perseus (Sam Worthington) grows up with no knowledge of his parentage or the circumstances surrounding his existence. He lives in a world fraught with peril as mortals and gods engage in massive combat. And there is nothing he can do but watch in horror as Hades (Ralph Fiennes), god of the underworld, murders his family in one of his rampages in retaliation for the continued defiance of the people of Argos.
 
As punishment for their arrogance, Hades threatens to unleash the mighty Kraken on Athos during the next eclipse, and warns them that there is only one way they can obtain salvation from the beast -- a human sacrifice in the form of Princess Andromeda (Alexa Davalos). Perseus wants nothing to do with it until a mysterious immortal named Io (Gemma Arterton) reveals to him that he is a demigod, the illegitimate son of Zeus and only he can defeat the Kraken. But first he must journey to the far corners of the world, consult the witches on how to bring it about, pass through the underworld, and do battle with Medusa -- before the eclipse unleashes the wrath of the heavens. When Zeus learns of his existence, he desires to give his son the tools required to carry out his mission, but Perseus desires to have nothing to do with the governing forces that have brought about so much unhappiness -- and his resistance to accepting his destiny might bring about his defeat.
 
One of the first things audiences should know heading into this blockbuster is that it is nothing like the original mythology, something that might disappoint scholars and fans of Greek literature. It is actually a more modern take on a popular movie from many years ago and as such carries the same faults, with a few new ones. I went with my brother, who is something of a student of mythology, and he was disappointed that so many changes were made to the legends, and that Poseidon is entirely absent, apart from one line of dialogue and limited screen time. I understand their reasons for limiting his presence in terms of budget and keeping the focus on his brothers, but at the same time I would have liked to have seen the god of the seas in action. That point aside, I absolutely loved it.

 

There are times when the battle sequences feel a little drawn-out (mostly pertaining to the giant scorpions) but the magnificent computer effects and exquisite creatures and panoramas more than make up for it. It has an enormous budget and makes the most of it, casting some terrific talent while at the same time not skimping on first-class special effects. Medusa and her head of snakes, the Kraken, the winged horse Pegasus, gnarled and truly hideous witches -- this movie has it all and then some. True, it is a film that wants to carry its audience from one fight to another and so there is not much down time (and as such, not a huge amount of character development) but I expected nothing less.
  
This film relies on mythology, which include fantastical creatures like winged horses, blind witches, and a creepy skeleton-like "boatman" who "ferries" the souls of the dead to the underworld. Perseus encounters witches with a "seeing eye" who prophecy what is to become of him -- they are depicted as murderous, carnivorous evil creatures. He meets up another inhuman race that it is said have used "black magic" to escape death; one of them heals him from a supernatural wound with blue fire. The gods manifest in creative ways; Hades can transform into numerous black-winged beasts. Zeus sometimes appears in human form or uses lightning as a vessel for his power.

 

I found many interesting things to consider within the story -- primarily the dramatic differences between these tyrannical, vengeful (and often rapist) gods, and the God I happen to serve. These gods become stronger through the "worship" of mortals; mine did not create me to further His ego. These gods "take" whatever they want; mine extends blessings. There is no heaven for mortals in this realm; there is only the underworld, unlike what I believe. And Zeus, toward the end, states that he was not willing to save humanity at the cost of his son -- well, my God was willing to make that sacrifice. There are also subtle but profound symbolic references to Christ in the form of Perseus: his demigod status (mortal mother and a god for a father), his being appointed as the "savior" of humanity, his trip into the underworld, and his eventual defeat of Hades.

 

I walked out of the theatre with several thoughts on my mind. First, how cool the movie was to watch. It's just beautiful and I loved the immense pleasure of seeing such a terrific bunch of actors (only a few are mentioned here) work together. Second, with a renewed interest in mythology and the desire to know more about the culture that invented such remarkable stories of courage and sacrifice. Third, the symbolism and my newfound awareness and appreciation for my own faith became apparent. I am glad to serve a God who created me entirely out of love, who has a purpose for my life, who does not "feed off" my prayers in order to grow stronger, who never preys on women as so many of these gods do, and who above all was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for my salvation.
 
Clash of the Titans may not be epic in terms of being remembered for all time, but it is epic if it encourages just one individual to think about spiritual things, to think about a God who extends an offering of salvation that requires no greater sacrifice than repentance. That is quite a remarkable accomplishment from a secular mythological tale.

    



 

Sexual Content:

Sensuality is limited to a woman referencing two separate rapes in delicate terms (describing how Medusa became a monster, and how she was cursed with a long life in exchange for refusing the "advances" of a god). Zeus transforms into a mortal and it is implied that he beds the king's wife (unseen).

  

Language:

A handful of profanities.

  

Violence:

There is a lot of violence, including some loss of limbs. The most gruesome are the beheading of Medusa and a mortal imbibed with supernatural powers having his hand struck off; he "bleeds" his way through the desert and several times the stump is shown. Giant scorpions stab and fling humans aside; others are crushed by falling rocks, or snatched up by winged black creatures. Medusa dispatches some of the men who venture into her temple with arrows and spears; others are turned to stone by looking into her eyes. A man intending to make a point plunges his hand into a pit of fire and pulls it out badly burned. Characters are stabbed and killed in swordfights; a woman is skewered on the point of a sword and flung aside.


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