Clash of the Titans (2010) Review
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It wasn’t that long ago that 3D movies were still just a novelty. They didn’t come out all that often—and, when they did, it was a big deal. Over the last year or so, however, it’s become more and more common. And ever since James Cameron’s Avatar made approximately a gazillion dollars worldwide, it’s become mandatory for any big-budget action film. And that’s why, with just months to go until its release, Clash of the Titans was reworked for 3D—which turned out to be a big, expensive blunder.

This effects-heavy remake stars Avatar’s Sam Worthington as Perseus, an orphan who was raised by the fisherman who rescued him as a child. As he grows, learning the family business, Perseus sees his father’s frustration with the gods, who expect men’s prayers but give little in return. That attitude continues to grow among men—until even the king speaks out in defiance against the gods.

The gods decide to fight back, sending Hades (Ralph Fiennes) to strike fear in the hearts of man. In the process, Hades kills Perseus’s family.

To pay for man’s arrogance, Hades demands a sacrifice. If the people don’t offer up the king’s daughter, Andromeda (Alexa Davalos), the gods will unleash the Kraken and destroy them all. Seeking to avenge his family’s deaths, Perseus comes forward, planning to find away to kill the Kraken before battling Hades himself. For any mere mortal, it would be an impossible feat—but, as Perseus soon discovers, he’s not just a mere mortal.

Clash of the Titans is exactly what you might expect: loaded with action and adventure and CGI effects—and heavy on the cheese. It’s melodramatic and totally overdone—and, most of the time, it’s just plain laughable. For up-and-comer Worthington (who actually makes a rather charming hero), that’s understandable. He’s still new to the biz. For talented veterans like Fiennes and Liam Neeson (who plays Zeus), on the other hand, it’s embarrassing.

The story, meanwhile, is a mess of muddled mythologies that are explained in long, rambling speeches that seem to come straight out of some complex role-playing game. There’s a huge cast of characters—most of whom seem to come out of nowhere, with little or no introduction. As I struggled to keep track of them all, I was reminded of Sam Rockwell’s character in Galaxy Quest, who points out that, if a character doesn’t have a name, it means that he’s expendable—just a random character “who dies to prove how serious the situation is.” And I couldn’t help but think that the plethora of random characters in Titans were in for the same fate. At least I hoped that I wasn’t supposed to care about them—because I didn’t even know who they were.

Worst of all, though, are the 3D graphics. It’s painfully obvious that they were an afterthought—and they were so poorly done that I felt cross-eyed through much of the movie. The battle scenes should be bold and life-like; instead, they’re hazy and out-of-focus. Avatar may have made a step forward for 3D graphics, but Titans just made two steps back.

Of course, for teenage fanboys, the giant monsters and computer-generated action alone will make Clash of the Titans worth the ticket price (though even fanboys shouldn’t waste the extra six bucks for the blurry 3D). But only the most devoted of fanboys need suit up for this overpriced epic mess.

DVD Review:
Without those distracting, late-addition 3D graphics, the Clash of the Titans DVD allows audiences to see the film for what it really is: a muddled, melodramatic, mythological mess that’s just as guilty—but not quite as pleasurable—as the 1981 original.

Like the film itself, the DVD release is a disappointment—offering just a collection of extended/deleted scenes as extras. Here, however, is where some of the more talented cast members finally get a chance to shine. Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson both get their share of dramatic monologues—and the rest of the residents of Mount Olympus get more screen time, too. If you have a few minutes to spare, the deleted scenes are worth a look—if only for the reminder that Fiennes and Neeson really can act. But if you’re looking for some real special features, skip the DVD and go straight for the feature-filled Blu-ray instead.

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