Often the best movies are fortuitous collisions between artistry and crass commercialism. This presumably was intended as a cheapish cash-in on recent sword and scandal successes – Clash of the Titans made in the style of 300 – but somehow fell into the grasp of misfit visionary Tarsem Singh.
These days, we are blas� to the idea of visually stunning movies. Generally, they are bish bosh action painting made up of haphazardly applied CGIs. Tarsem's visuals are beautifully sculpted and designed, uncluttered even when they are throngs of bronzed, six-packed gladiators carving dirty great lumps out of each other.
The movie takes inspiration from Renaissance painting, the set designs of Fellini Satyricon and Caligula and the corridor fight scene from Oldboy.
It opens with the image of the Titans trapped in the bowels of Mount Tartarus in a cube on vertical skewers which makes them looks like figures in a giant table football game and there's barely a moment that follows which doesn't arrest the eye in some way. It's not a money opulence, it doesn't look like it's had tonnes of money thrown at it.
It's all craftsmanship.
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It's style over substance to be sure – but what style. And some of the substance isn't too shabby. New Superman Cavill is a good hero but the film is stolen by Mickey Rourke's bad guy, all buffed-up biceps and sucked-in stomach, mumbled dialogue and mannerisms taken from Marlon Brandon in Apocalypse Now.
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Director: Tarsem Singh
Starring:Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, Stephen Dorff, Freida Pinto, Luke Evans and John Hurt
Length: 98 mins