‘Clash of the Titans’: Barely 2D

March 31, 2010

Aside from any further output from Lady Gaga, I can’t think of much that’s more unnecessary than the remake of “Clash of the Titans,” at least until the next remake of “Godzilla” comes along.


It’s not that this faux-3D feature is laughably terrible – like the original (which sucked, except for the quaint Ray Harryhausen stop-motion animation). Indeed, it would be a lot more entertaining if it were. It takes a certain perverse kind of imagination to make something as hysterically awful as, say, “Battlefield Earth,” which has been a topic of discussion lately.


No, “Clash of the Titans” is in some ways worse – grandiose without being in any way grand, self-important but impossible to take seriously – and, worst of all, eye-glazingly dull when it’s not putting the action sequences right in your face.


Not that there’s anything all that special about the special effects – but at least when the CG starts cranking, there’s something to pay attention to. When all you’ve got to look at are warriors walking around, chattering at each other about the struggle by man against the uncaring gods, well, um, yawn-o-rama.


That’s basically the plot here: The humans, tired of being the playthings of the gods (hey – who isn’t?), decide to rebel by, um, withholding their prayers, which empower the gods. The gods, of course, get pissed; the top god, Zeus (Liam Neeson), lets himself get talked into punishing the humans by his brother, Voldemort — oops, I mean, Hades (hey, they’re both played hissingly by Ralph Fiennes), who has his own plan for toppling Zeus from the hit parade of gods.


So Hades attacks the city of Argos, the temporary home of Perseus (Sam Worthington), a demigod who happens to be the son of Zeus. Hades says he’ll unleash the Kraken (apparently a cross between a T-rex, a giant squid and Donald Trump) on the city unless they sacrifice their prettiest princess, Andromeda (Alexa Davalos), which, I believe, is also the plot of “American Idol.”


So Perseus and a band of soldiers head off to find the secret to defeating the Kraken, which is apparently on loan from “Pirates of the Caribbean 2: The Giant Paycheck.” Battle battle battle, attack of giant scorpions, blah blah blah, Perseus denies his heritage before he embraces it, yadda yadda yadda – “Release the Kraken.”


Worthington is having something of a moment these past 12 months, what with being the only thing worth watching in “Terminator Salvation,” then going all blue in the face for “Avatar” – and now this. With his bullet-headed manliness (and the Australian accent that finally gets to be heard), he looks the part. Which is good because the script only offers dialogue so wooden he’s spitting splinters by the end of some speeches. Most of those are of the “I am not a god – I’m a man” variety, usually in confrontations with expedition leader Mads Mikkelsen, who hides his embarrassment at the silly way his hair is braided behind his satisfaction at the pile of money he probably banked.


According to news reports, the “Clash” 3D is inorganic – i.e., the film wasn’t shot with 3D cameras but was digitally goosed to appear three-dimensional in post-production. Or at least that’s how the movie is being sold. But despite a couple of scenes where things are thrown at the camera, most of the depth in the shots feels like some badly handled manipulation of perspective. Most of it is about as 3D as a ViewMaster slide and has the same cardboard quality.


To repeat, “Clash of the Titans” is not hilariously terrible. But it is unbearably tedious.  Eight-year-old kids will eat it up; anyone older will find it hard to swallow.


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