Clash of the Titans (2010)

Rated: PG-13 for fantasy action violence, some frightening images and brief sensuality.
Length: 106 minutes
Grade: C+CC+C=C+
Budget: $125 million
Box Office: $515 million (163 U.S., 329 Intl., 23 DVD)

Written by: Travis Beacham (Dog Days of Summer, Seconds), Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi (Aeon Flux, the Tuxedo, Bug, Crazy/Beautiful), with credits to Beverley Cross (1981 Screenplay)
Directed by: Louis Leterrier (Incredible Hulk, Transporter 1+2, Unleashed)
Starring: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, and Gemma Arterton.

With worship from the humans waning, the gods must somehow motivate them. They choose to unleash Hades and his pet Titan upon them, but Perseus, the son of Zeus, tries to stop the Kraken by vanquishing Medusa and other adventures in this mostly remake of the 1981 classic mythology film.

Entertainment Value: C+
For the most part, this is a bigger budget version of the old movie, done with sufficient homage to prove it’s building on that foundation, but not with enough new material to justify the remake. It’s certainly no worse than the original, but as with anything that carries nostalgic attachment, the question is always, “Do we really need a new version of this?” In this case, the answer is no. That being said, $130 million does buy effects that you just couldn’t have in 1981. On the other hand, Percy Jackson and the Olympians was much better for basically the same plot.

Superficial Content: C
Drugs/Alcohol A-, Sex/Nudity B, Violence C, Language B
One thing this movie definitely has going in its favor is that the only thing to be concerned about here is violence. Sure, there are some mild sexuality elements, mostly stemming from the way Perseus and other demigods were made. But unlike so many other action movies these days, the PG-13 is entirely for violence and they didn’t choose to dump in a bunch of other stuff once they already had that rating. I think there was one or two mild bad words. That being said, the violence is pretty extreme, but expected. Lots of people die, and massive devastation is threatened. They travel to Hades, and one key plot element is beheading Medusa.

Significant Content: C+
Here’s where things get interesting. I had originally written this off as a D because of the polytheism and the wretched character of the gods. But in reconsideration, I think there’s something here very worth noticing. Although Zeus pretends to be the vindictive god of mythology, and Hades certainly is, he turns out to look much more like the God of the Bible in the end: valuing human freedom and acting on the basis of love. Bad gods (Hades, Satan) thrive on fear and power. Good ones thrive on love. Also, in another clearly Christian flavoring of the story, Perseus is offered the chance to live a save life on Olympus but chooses to serve “in the mud” the humans.

Artistic/Thought Value: C
It’s definitely not the sort of movie that really draws you into deep reflection and self-contemplation afterwards, but given the ideas about deity and humanity, it’s not devoid of ideas either. One of the opening scenes has a man basically saying, “Why would I pray to the gods when they deliver us so much pain and suffering?” The response and ensuing discussion are admittedly brief, touching on theodicy (the idea that it must be our fault when bad things happen) and the goodness of gods.

Discussion Questions:
~The metaphysics of this story have the gods deriving their strength from human prayer. Does it seem logical that gods who create men would only get their existence from their creation? How does this theory of divine power fit or not with the Bible’s ideas about God, men, power and prayer? When non-Christians look at our religion, do you think this is what they think of God and our prayers?
~Perseus isn’t just part man and part god, he’s “the best of both.” In what ways is Perseus like Jesus? In what ways not? Consider, particularly the way Perseus “wins” and the way Jesus wins. How might you say that Perseus is actually an anti-Christ rather than a Christ-type? Consider, for instance, his insubordination against Zeus, his hatred of the gods for what they did to his earthly father (Did Joseph survive into Jesus’s adulthood?), his pride, and his embrace of violence.
~Why does Perseus want to succeed only by being human and not with his godly gifts? Why is this so important to him? What allows Perseus to change his mind? Why is it important that Jesus was constrained to live life as fully human?
~A frequent literary device in the Bible is to have characters preach Christ by contrast rather than by similarity. Do you think this movie can be used to preach Christ? If so, how would you do it?
~What do you make of the religious fanatic at The religious fanatic at Argos?
~Jealousy is one of the major character flaws of the Greek gods, but the Bible proclaims that God is a jealous God. What’s the difference between the two kinds of jealousy?
~If you’ve seen the original movie, how many homages to it can you name? (I counted four main ones)

Poignant or memorable scenes:
~The extended argument Hades and Zeus have over whether fear or love is better in the governance of men. Who do you think won this argument? In what ways do the gods of Greece separate out the characteristics of God into separate people? Why do we have the urge to do that? It’s been said that it’s better for a leader to be feared than loved. What do you think?
~Charon and the boat ride.
Overall Grade: C+
A violent but otherwise mostly clean big-budget remake of the original with more interesting theology.

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