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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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Joan of Arc: 
		<p>Burned at the stake as a heretic after a politically-motivated trial, Joan was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920.</p>
		<p>Born of a fairly well-to-do peasant couple in Domremy-Greux (southeast of Paris), Joan was only 12 when she experienced a vision and heard voices that she later identified as Sts. Michael the Archangel, Catherine of Alexandria, and Margaret of Antioch.</p>
		<p>During the Hundred Years War, she led French troops against the English and recaptured the cities of Orléans and Troyes. This enabled Charles VII to be crowned as king in Reims in 1429. Captured near Compiegne the following year, she was sold to the English and placed on trial for heresy and witchcraft. Professors at the University of Paris supported Bishop Pierre Cauchon of Beauvis, the judge at her trial; Cardinal Henry Beaufort of Winchester, England, participated in the questioning of Joan in prison. In the end, she was condemned for wearing men's clothes. The English resented France's military success–to which Joan contributed. </p>
		<p>On this day in 1431, she was burned at the stake in Rouen, and her ashes were scattered in the Seine River. A second Church trial 25 years later nullified the earlier verdict, which was reached under political pressure.</p>
		<p>Remembered by most people for her military exploits, Joan had a great love for the sacraments, which strengthened her compassion toward the poor. Popular devotion to her increased greatly in 19th-century France and later among French soldiers during World War I. Theologian George Tavard writes that her life "offers a perfect example of the conjunction of contemplation and action" because her spiritual insight is that there should be a "unity of heaven and earth."</p>
		<p>Joan of Arc has been the subject of many books, plays, operas, and movies. </p>
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