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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Clash of the Titans

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Sam Worthington stars in a scene from the movie "Clash of the Titans."
Though hardly a favorite with critics, Desmond Davis' 1981 swords-and-sandals exercise, "Clash of the Titans," was a box-office hit on its initial release and has gone on to become something of a cult classic. Perhaps that's the impetus behind director Louis Leterrier's 3-D remake (Warner Bros.) which retains the original title.

Whatever the motivation, the result is a muddled mythological epic in which long, frequently violent action sequences and an emphasis on special effects leave little room for engaging drama.

Like the original, this is a retelling of the ancient Greek myth of the demigod Perseus (Sam Worthington). The offspring of one of Zeus' (Liam Neeson) characteristic dalliances with a beautiful mortal, the infant Perseus and his mother are both cast into the sea by her enraged husband, Calibos (Jason Flemyng). This despite the fact that Zeus had temporarily disguised himself as Calibos for the encounter. So how was poor Mom to know?

Unlike his mother, Perseus survives, and is rescued and raised by the family of a simple fisherman. As a teen, however, Perseus is left orphaned when his entire clan is killed off during a rampage by Hades (Ralph Fiennes), the god of death.

Determined to defend humankind and gain vengeance on the lord of the underworld, Perseus embarks on a quest that sees him and a small band of hardy companions—including his immortal spiritual guide and intrepid comrade Io (Gemma Arterton)—battling giant crabs, the Medusa, an ubermonster called the Kraken and, eventually, Hades himself.

Though the theme of a human revolt against the divine -- even in its debased pagan form—is potentially troubling, the collaborative script by Travis Beacham, Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi treats the subject so inconsistently that audiences will be hard put to draw any direct analogies or arrive at any definite conclusions.

Characters display a variety of reactions to the uprising, ranging from outright defiance to fearful submission to quiet, sensible piety and on to the rabble-rousing attitude and activities of a religious fanatic who pops up in a few scenes.

But weighty matters like theology are hardly the point here, as it's never long before the next in Perseus' formidable succession of adversaries takes center stage, and combat is renewed.

The film contains complex, though undeveloped, religious themes, constant action violence, a bedroom encounter with implied sexual activity, at least one sexual reference and a couple of mildly crass terms. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.





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Augustine of Hippo: A Christian at 33, a priest at 36, a bishop at 41: Many people are familiar with the biographical sketch of Augustine of Hippo, sinner turned saint. But really to get to know the man is a rewarding experience. 
<p>There quickly surfaces the intensity with which he lived his life, whether his path led away from or toward God. The tears of his mother, the instructions of Ambrose and, most of all, God himself speaking to him in the Scriptures redirected Augustine’s love of life to a life of love. </p><p>Having been so deeply immersed in creature-pride of life in his early days and having drunk deeply of its bitter dregs, it is not surprising that Augustine should have turned, with a holy fierceness, against the many demon-thrusts rampant in his day. His times were truly decadent—politically, socially, morally. He was both feared and loved, like the Master. The perennial criticism leveled against him: a fundamental rigorism. </p><p>In his day, he providentially fulfilled the office of prophet. Like Jeremiah and other greats, he was hard-pressed but could not keep quiet. “I say to myself, I will not mention him,/I will speak in his name no more./But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,/imprisoned in my bones;/I grow weary holding it in,/I cannot endure it” (Jeremiah 20:9).</p> American Catholic Blog Pope Francis said, “The Church gives us the life of faith in Baptism: that is the moment in which she gives birth to us as children of God, the moment she gives us the life of God, she engenders us as a mother would.”

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