It wasn’t enough that Sam Worthington stunk up Avatar. clashboys.jpgHe’s gone and done it again, this time wearing Greek armor along with his burr cut and clenched jaw.

Against all odds, and certainly against good judgment, Worthington somehow landed the hero’s role of Perseus, in this needless remake of the 1981 Clash of the Titans. You know the story. Zeus, Hades and Poseidon are steamed up over humans’ disrespect for the gods. So they crank up their ultimate monster from hell, the Kracken, for a big dose of destructive pay-back.

Fine. So Perseus, the love child of a human mother and Zeus, the big kahuna of Olympus (long story), leads a pack of studly praetorian guardsmen (including Mads Mikkelsen in a blaze of scars, leather, and braids) down into the underworld, to bring back the secret of how to kill the big, CGI-generated beast.

The casting couldn’t be sillier. The once-subtle Ralph Fiennes, who must have needed the paycheck, grovels and whines as the fire-breathing Hades. More than three top fashion models wear gold jewelry and pose nicely as celebrity goddesses. Standing in for Larry Olivier, as Zeus, is Liam Neeson — an actor whose 15 minutes were up last year. Whether this Aussie-intensive effort is any advance in terms of cinematic history is an issue for discussion over great quantities of alcohol. But Worthington is so wooden, so inept and so poorly directed, that he obliterates our ability to escape into this fairly entertaining, visually arresting fairytale.

Clash of the Titans. Let’s review. Is it ridiculous? Yes. Packed with repetitive explosive, Type A action?, i.e. blood, smoke, flames, swirling water, crumbling mountains. Yes. Hacking of limbs? Check. Stilted dialogue? Absolutely.

But…..this is still an engaging saga, offering a few surprisingly potent special effects. Clearly the designers adored Ray Harryhausen, creator of the monsters in the 1981 Clash. The giant scorpions are uncanny. And the beautiful and mesmerizing Medusa is literally worth the cost of sitting through two hours of Worthington’s embarrassing attempts. (Why isn’t there Viagra for movie performance enhancement?)

Fiennes, as Hades, finesses a few gothic visuals when he spreads his wings of smoldering black smoke and swirling embers. The art direction, particularly the costume design is briskly imaginative. The score by Ramin Djawadi is sweeping. And the locations — Ethiopia’s rocky deserts and the black, volcanic beaches of Tenerife — are spellbinding.

All of the visual magic, alas, cannot pierce the wooden armor of our
numbingly stinko Perseus