| Frenchman Louis Leterrier (“The Incredible Hulk”) directs this unnecessary fantasy action remake of the 1981 cult classic. With three screenwriters telling the convoluted story, it is a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth. The Razzie Awards race for the worst movie of the year is now well under way with this early spring candidate.
It is obvious from the outset that most of the big budget went into the computer-generated special effects. This cheesy popcorn movie will appeal mostly to teenage males unfamiliar with Greek mythology. It contains one-dimensional characters, corny dialogue and campy humor. The chaotic action scenes are frenetically paced and all you see is bodies flying everywhere.
The heroic figure in this ancient tale is Perseus (“Avatar” leading man Sam Worthington). He is the bastard son of Zeus (Liam Neeson from “The Chronicles of Narnia” and “Schindler’s List”), god of the heavens. Perseus was rescued as an infant from the sea by Spyros (Pete Postlethwaite), a kindly fisherman. Spyros and his wife Marmara (Elizabeth McGovern) raised Perseus as their own son.
While the family houseboat is floating on the water near the kingdom of Argos, a rebellion is begun when a large statue to Zeus is destroyed. This angers the gods on Mt. Olympus who are presented in a laughable and ridiculous way. Their shiny costumes look like they are leftover from a masquerade ball.
Perseus vows revenge against the immortals when his adoptive parents are drowned by the angry sea. An ultimatum is delivered that Argos will be destroyed unless the beautiful virgin princess Andromeda (Alexa Davalos from “Defiance”) is sacrificed during the impending eclipse.
This is the trigger for Perseus to embark on an adventure-filled quest to fulfill his destiny of saving mankind. He is joined by a group of courageous soldiers led by Draco (Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen who played the villain in “Casino Royale”). Perseus is also aided by the winged black stallion Pegasus and the gorgeous guardian angel Io (England’s Gemma Arterton known to American audiences as the latest Bond girl in “Quantum of Solace”).
Io serves as his spiritual guide and awkwardly becomes his love interest. She is neither a goddess nor a human being having been cursed with agelessness.
Perseus and his band of warriors must battle a deadly assortment of monstrous creatures including giant scorpions, blind fortune-telling witches, snake-haired Medusa (Russian supermodel Natalie Vadianova), whose gaze turns anything with flesh to stone, and the deadly Kraken sea beast.
The gods on Mt. Olympus play with the sword-and-sandal mortals like tinker toy puppets. The humans don’t realize they are merely pawns in a sibling rivalry between Zeus and the vengeful god of the underworld, Hades (Ralph Fiennes from the Harry Potter movies and “The English Patient”), who feeds on human fear and pain.
Another key character chewing up the scenery in this 21st century reboot is Acrisius (Jason Flemyng), a one-time king turned into the hideously grotesque beast Calibos. His wife was the mother of Perseus. He joins forces with Hades against their common enemies (Perseus and Zeus).
This special effects extravaganza utilizes cutting-edge techniques of motion-capture and animatronic computer-generated graphic images. The movie’s release date was pushed back a week to convert several prints to 3D.
The original movie was the last in the illustrious career of stop-motion genius Ray Harryhausen, who drew everything by hand.
Clearly a forerunner of “Star Wars” R2-D2, the mechanical golden owl Bubo makes a cameo appearance to appease the nostalgic fan base. The love story angle between Perseus and Andromeda from the original has been discarded. This takes away from developing any sort of rooting interest in the outcome.
The various script changes reflect the modern influence of Superman, Harry Potter, King Kong, “The Mummy” and “The Lord of the Rings.” The movie drags throughout the 106-minute running time whenever there is a lull in the sword-fighting skirmishes.
A simultaneous release of a video game as a companion to the celluloid reels will be in demand with an expanded universe of obstacles that include harpies, minotaurs, ogres, dragons and cyclopses.
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"