Starring Sam Worthington, Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson. Directed by Louis Leterrier. 106 mins.
Rated M (Fantasy violence).
Well, there's no doubt you get you money's worth of action and special effects. And for audiences who declare that they 'love a good stoush', there are lots of them. After all, Perseus is the son of Zeus, part human, part god, who vanquishes Hades and his plots, Medusa and the monstrous Kraken.
Thirty years ago or so, there was what seemed a rather highbrow cast for this kind of thing: Laurence Olivier as Zeus, Maggie Smith as Thetis (and Ursula Andress as Aphrodite) and written by scholar and dramatist, Beverly Cross. The creatures were a culmination of wondrous cinema creations by expert, Ray Harryhausen, and his Dynamation. He would probably enjoy all the effects here. And the cast includes some highbrow British actors this time. Liam Neeson is Zeus and Ralph Fiennes enjoys himself thoroughly and articulately (and with superb black and fiery effects) as Hades. This makes for some rhetorical confrontations between the two brothers and with Perseus. Perseus is played by Australian Sam Worthington (sounding as if he had been whisper-dubbed by Jason Statham and wanted to make sure that nobody would think he would do a posh pommy accent). Worthington made a great hit in 2009 with his leads in Avatar and stealing the show from Christian Bale in Terminator:Salvation. (Probably many a review will make some comparisons with Russell Crowe and Gladiator.)
Director Louis Letterier is best known for action, action, action (Unleashed, Incredible Hulk). He rarely lets up here. He is not known for dramatic encounters and one suspects that some of these (for example the sequences on Olympus, where Danny Huston as Poseidon gets one line) might appear as extras on the DVD edition.
Whatever, the decisions about editing, it is a rattling good show. Perseus grows up with his adoptive fisherman father (Pete Postlethwaite) who assures him he has a destiny. Demigod Io (Gemma Arteton), his protector, reveals that his mission is to save humans (who, in Argos, had decided they did not need the gods any more) from the vengeance of Zeus and Hades (Poseidon not getting a look in). With a cast of thousands in Argos, just like the epics of yesteryear, the film then concentrates on Perseus' mission and the battles. He is accompanied by warrior draco (Danish actor Mads Mikkelson, Casino Royale villain), Solon (Liam Cunningham) as well as some battle-scarred and defeated giant scorpions, with some deathly once-human creatures, with the kind who ordered his mother's and his death, a deformed Jason Flemyng, with Medusa and, finally, riding Pegasus on the bigger, better and beastlier Kraken. Meanwhile, a false prophet bays for the sacrifice of Andromeda, daughter of the king of Argos, who is strung up (feeling some Andromeda strain) to be devoured by the Kraken.
One is tempted to say that this is a crackin' good show, but, no, we are dealing with the deities and myths of Ancient Greece – which will probably receive a new surge of interest because of this entertainingly exciting action show.
Roadshow Out April 2 2010
Roadshow Out April 2 2010
Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.