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Clash of the Titans (2010) *

April 2, 2010

Written by: Travis Beacham, Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi
Produced by: Kevin De La Noy and Basil Iwanyk
Directed by: Louis Leterrier
Rated PG-13 for fantasy action violence, some frightening images and brief sensuality
118 min.
U.S. Release Date: April 2, 2010

Director and action-enthusiast Louis Leterrier (director of “The Incredible Hulk” and “Transporter 2”) goes big in this Warner Brothers remake of the 1981 classic “Clash of the Titans”.  Prior to the release and historic success of the 3D IMAX event film “Avatar”, “Clash of the Titans” was scheduled to release as a standard 2D experience.  In a post-Pandora world however, the executives at Warner Brothers decided to strike while the three-dimensional iron was hot and put the film through a 3D up-conversion process to extract some additional revenue at the box office.  In a process that usually takes anywhere from six months to a year, Warner Brothers completed the 3D conversion in a hasty six-weeks.  In anticipation of “Clash of the Titans”, several questions demand answers.  Is the film good overall?  Does the remake do justice to the celebrated original?  Is the 3D up-conversion worth the additional price of admission?

In Greece, in the city of Argos, war is looming between humans and the gods.  Perseus (Sam Worthington), a young fisherman from Argos, is the illegitimate son of Zeus (Liam Neeson) and therefore is a demigod (a half-breed… a muggle, if you will).  After Hades (Ralph Fiennes) murders Perseus’s family, Perseus goes on a mission to kill Hades in an act of vengeance.  Meanwhile, Hades wages a war on Argos to display his superiority, and uses his Kraken monster as a tool of destruction.  To prevent the destruction of Argos, Perseus must stop Hades from dethroning Zeus as the king of the gods, and then must defeat the Kraken and kill Hades.  Throughout this adventure, the audience is treated to all of the classic mythological characters and monsters that are famous from the original “Clash of the Titans” film.

From the beginning, it is apparent that there are clear script problems with this film.  Nearly every line of dialogue is filled with exposition or a horribly clichéd “epic movie”-type of line.  The film peppers audiences with lines like “I must do this as a man…” or something about Perseus being a demigod, and this type of screenwriting becomes too much over the course of this two-hour endeavor.  Along with the sub-par dialogue, there are countless scenes that could have been just as helpful to the plot on the cutting room floor.  Too many times, certain characters begin impromptu training sessions with Perseus, given his fishing background, in attempts to better him as a warrior.  These scenes seem very forced and do nothing to further the story or make Perseus any more endearing.

As far as embracing nostalgia and rewarding fans of the 1981 “Clash of the Titans”, this is relatively nonexistent.  There are two scenes in particular that were inserted into the film to “cater” to old fans, but were simply shrugged off by the characters, or were irrelevant because of their execution or placement in the film.  In one scene (lasting only roughly ten seconds), Zeus holds a chess piece in his hand with the likeness of Perseus.  This alludes to the original film and how the gods played with Earth as if it were a game of chess, but this scene added nothing to the film.  Also, there was a gag scene later on where Perseus, just before setting off on a journey to find Medusa, holds up an old mechanical owl figurine from the original film and says, “What’s this for?” and is told something to the affect of, “forget about it, let’s go.”  If it wasn’t intentional, the film definitely spoke to the fact it is forgetting about the past with this new remake.  Louis Leterrier directed a lifeless poppy studio-film with a big name, and his lack of passion for the project or the lack of acumen for directing a film of this magnitude shine through.

There has been quite a stink made about this film’s hasty decision to convert the print to 3D in the break-neck six-week timeframe.  I can tell you with the utmost confidence that you should pass on the 3D ticket for “Clash of the Titans” and see this one in standard 2D.  The 3D picture is lazy and irritating in the way that it adds nothing to the overall experience (is there a trend forming, here?).  Whatever company managed this up-conversion has a major problem with the way they render 3D body shapes in the foreground.  So many times, these images produced an effect of double vision, or like a character had a body double walking immediately behind them.  If you want to encourage movie studios to put their best foot forward when it comes to 3D films and not to feed garbage to the public at a premium, do not see “Clash of the Titans” in 3D.

Overall, “Clash of the Titans” is an epic in genre, but an underwhelming experience in execution.  The upsetting thing about this movie is the large amount of potential that it has.  With all resources in the world, Warner Brothers could have made something that far surpassed what actually came of this film.  Many of the choices made, from the script to the 3D up-conversion, translate into a lifeless movie-going experience that will leave you feeling no different than you did before you saw this film.

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