CLASH OF THE TITANS
***1/2 (out of 5)
April 2, 2010
Sam Worthington as PERSEUS
Liam Neeson as ZEUS
Ralph Fiennes as HADES
Jason Flemyng as CALIBOS
Gemma Arterton as IO
Alexa Davalos as ANDROMEDA
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Louis Leterrier
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
When all is said and done and the box office numbers have settled, the “Clash of the Titans” remake will be looked at with a somber eye by critics and audiences. And the general consensus will be that the movie isn’t as bad as some would have you believe.
The original 1981 film featured one of Ray Harryhausen’s last cinematic excursion, giving a brilliant and state-of-the-art (at least for the early 80s) use of stop-motion photography. Existing as a mish-mash of a bunch of Greek myths, the original “Clash of the Titans” told the story of Perseus in his attempt to save Andromeda from being sacrificed to the Kraken.
The remake follows roughly the same story, only leaving out a great deal of god drama and putting the bulk of the film on Perseus and the other mortal. It hits the same basic points – the threat of the Kraken, the battle for Medusa’s head, the Stygian Witches – but it does so in a darker manner with a lot more action and special effects.
There’s a lot of fanboy nostalgia that is buoying up the love of the original. Having recently watched it with my kids, I can say that it’s a different movie than it was when I was a wide-eyed nine-year-old at the local theater. The dialogue was cheesy. The special effects were cool but were obvious special effects. The characters were a bit goofy. And there were long moments of exposition.
Everything that was wrong with the original is wrong with the new film. The effects are better, sure, but they break down at times. The actors chew through the digital scenery, and while I doubt this version will replace the original in high schools classes on Greek Mythology, it has a similar loose telling of these legends.
Like I did watching the 1981 classic, I found myself waiting for the effects sequences. The difference here is that they are much more action oriented and full of pretty cool CGI monsters. When these money shots are on screen, the film is awesome. Director Louis Leterrier, who gave us “The Incredible Hulk” two years ago, does a fine job managing these moments. However, the walk-and-talk scenes featuring character development and plot points are not the strong point.
What also makes the new “Clash of the Titans” notable is that it is presented in 3D using the post-production conversion process (rather than being shot for 3D like “Avatar” was). There has been a lot of hate spewed by critics and bloggers about this process, but most of these complaints try to condemn 3D as a whole and use the conversion process as a scapegoat.
Let’s make things clear… the post-production 3D conversion is not ideal. If you’re not a 3D fan, or if you’re going to balk at a 40% ticket price hike to see it in digital 3D, then save some money and check it out in 2D. You’ll still have fun if you don’t expect too much from the film.
I wasn’t bothered by the 3D. It looks a bit goofy in the dialogue sequences, but when the digital effects (which are rendered in true 3D) kick in, I thought it looked spectacular. Were I to see it again, I’d pay the extra money to see it in the enhanced format.
Ultimately, “Clash of the Titans” is perfect for the pre-summer blockbuster season. It’s the first event film of 2010, and it works as an action piece. It’s not “Avatar,” but no other film is. I had a ton of fun watching this movie, as did my kids. I enjoyed both this and the original for different reasons, and I am interested to watch it again.