Clash of the Titans * * 1/2

Genre: Fantasy

Director:  Louis Leterrier

Writers: Travis Beacham, Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, based on the 1981 screenplay of the same name by Beverley Cross

Cast: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Flemyng, Gemma Arterton 

Running Length: 103 minutes

Synopsis: A retelling of the Greek tale of Perseus and a pseudo-remake of the original 1981 film Clash of the Titans, this remake 29 years later stars Sam Worthington as Perseus, demi-god son of Zeus (Liam Neeson). Like many heroes, he has to embark on a ten-day journey wrought with danger in order to save the beautiful Princess Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) from being sacrificed to the Kraken, a terrible sea monster. Along the way he meets both friend and foe, and in particular has to make a dangerous journey to the Underworld to obtain the head of Medusa to subdue the Kraken.

Review: Let’s get this out of the way, right away. DO NOT watch Clash of the Titans in 3D unless you’re feeling generous and want to contribute extra dollars to the cinema operators’ bottom line for a diminished experience. If Avatar is the reason 3D will flourish, “3D” shows like Clash of the Titans will be the reason that cinemagoers will eventually tire of the money grab and start going back to 2D. I spent 10 minutes in Clash of the Titans without my 3D glasses on and it made virtually no difference whatsoever, and in all seriousness the most 3D aspect of the film were the Chinese subtitles. It’s retrofitted 3D and done in a very poor manner, to the point that it detracts from the experience.

Having said that, take away the 3D element and this remake of Clash of the Titans is perfectly serviceable as a pre-summer action blockbuster. Although it takes a while to get started, once the action begins the film’s actually pretty entertaining. Many of us will probably not compare this remake favourably with the Ray Harryhausen original for sentimental, nostalgic reasons, but it cannot be denied that the 2010 version works slightly better because of the improved visuals and a lower cheesiness level.

The CGI found in Clash of the Titans is mostly top-notch, and in particular the Scorpiochs and Medusa are very well-rendered and almost believable – well as much as monsters can look believable. However, certain aspects don’t work that well, including the terribly cheesy “glowing armour” that the Gods wear. It almost feels like a snippet from the old Superman movies, with all the soft focus and dreamy lighting attempting perhaps to make Olympus look more ethereal. It does not work in the slightest.

Sam Worthington basically reprises his role from Avatar, even sporting a similar buzz cut, but here in Clash of the Titans he is never given a chance to really act. In fact, despite the presence of esteemed actors like Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes (as Hades), the acting is weak across the board and characters never become (pardon the expression) three dimensional. This is particularly apparent in the superfluous romantic subplot between Perseus and Io (Gemma Arterton), which is so poorly developed that one wonders why Leterrier even chose to leave it in the film.

It’s likely that audiences who watch Clash of the Titans in 2D (like it was meant to be watched) would be more charitable towards the film, but for those who watch it in “3D” may not feel so generous. In 2D, the movie is generally entertaining and a tolerable remake of the original film. In 3D, all the flaws become more pronounced – blurry action sequences, dim visuals, eye-watering (in a bad way)3D implementation – and coupled with a higher-priced ticket, makes for a very negative viewing experience.

Rating:  * * ½ (out of four stars)

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