16 April 2010

Clash of the Titans

Clash of the Titans

Let's get this out of the way: 3D adds nothing to Clash of the Titans other than headaches and a few dollars to the ticket price. And, oh yeah, it makes the images darker and blurrier, too.

Avatar showed 3D can be used effectively, to bring the movie to the audience, creating a richer, more immersive experience. James Cameron, of course, conceived and shot that film in the format, even developed new technology to ensure his vision made it to the screen intact.

Clash of the Titans, a remake of the 1981 Ray Harryhausen movie, was filmed in the traditional two dimensions. It was only during post-production, after Avatar raked in the dough, that the decision was made to try to cash in on what has become with the one notable exception the most annoying Hollywood trend of my lifetime.

Maybe the filmmakers are hoping the extra dimension can mask the movie's deficiencies in other areas.

The story is a retelling of the Greek legend of Perseus, the demigod son of Zeus and a human woman, played by Avatar's Sam Worthington with as much personality as the giant scorpions he and his fellow warriors battle in one of the movie's few entertaining sequences.

Men have turned against the gods, and the gods aren't happy. Hades (Ralph Fiennes), god of the underworld, with the full approval of his brother Zeus (Liam Neeson), gives the people of the city of Argos an ultimatum: hand over the princess, Andromeda (Alexa Davalos), or he will unleash the giant sea monster known as the Kraken, which surely will lead to their destruction.

Hades gives the people a week to make their decision, allowing Perseus time to learn how to defeat the Kraken it involves the head of Medusa, which turns all who gaze upon it to stone.

The effects are fairly well done, light years beyond the stop-motion animation used in the original film. Beasts such as the Kraken, pegasus and giant scorpions look about as realistic as things like that can.

It is disappointing, then, that Louis Leterrier (The Incredible Hulk) directs without any imagination or wonder. He simply follows the script from one scene to the next, apparently finding little or no joy in what he's putting on the screen.

That attitude seeps into the performances. In Worthington's defense, Perseus is written as a selfish dolt who refuses to use his god-given power he has a grudge against the gods because Hades is responsible for the death of his adopted father (Pete Postlethwaite) even when his companions are dying around him. There is a half-hearted attempt at a love story involving Perseus and his guardian, Io (Gemma Arterton), but I don't quite get what she sees in him. Maybe she's an Avatar fan.

Neeson and Fiennes are distinguished actors who normally elevate their material, but this movie drags them down with everyone else. It is as if Neeson knew how ridiculous he was going to look in Zeus's unnaturally gleaming armor and Fiennes was embarrassed by his unfortunate resemblance to John Travolta in Battlefield Earth (2000).

3D is but one of many problems plaguing Clash of the Titans.

Greg's Grade: D

(Rated PG-13 for fantasy action violence, some frightening images and brief sensuality. 106 minutes.)

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