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Review

Disasterous 3D effects, dull acting ruin 1981 cult-classic

Michael Brun

April 9, 2010

A remake of the 1981 cult-classic, “Clash of the Titans” is a colossal waste of time. Although the original had a clunky story and cheesy special effects, it was also campy and fun. The remake is just as clunky and its special effects are just as cheesy, but the experience is altogether tedious. It’s too long, too serious and too boring to be any fun.

Last week I praised “How to Train Your Dragon” for its spectacular 3D effects. It’s a shining example of just how stunning and immersive a 3D film can be. In comparison, “Clash of the Titans” is a gloomy example of how atrocious 3D can be. The effects are unnecessary at best, and headache-inducing at worst. I had to take the glasses off several times due to eyestrain.

“Clash of the Titans” is an important experiment for studios betting on the continued success of 3D. Whereas movies like “Avatar” and “Dragon” were shot in 3D from the beginning, “Clash” is among the first wave of retro-fitted 3D films. Shot entirely in 2D, its 3D effects were added via computers during the editing process.

This form of post-production 3D conversion is garnering buzz by offering the prospect of re-releasing classic films in a new dimension. “Titanic” and the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy are just a couple of the big-name titles being considered for a 3D re-release. However, if “Clash” is any indication of the quality we can expect from these films, then I predict a major flop for the studios. A few more bombs like this and the 3D craze will die just as quickly as it got started.

But looks aren’t everything – the rest of “Clash” is just as awful.

The story follows Greek demi-god Perseus and his quest to save Princess Andromeda from being sacrificed to the Kraken, an unreasonably powerful sea creature that can lay waste entire cities. The only way to defeat the Kraken is to cut off the head of Medusa and use it to turn the beast into stone.

There’s nothing wrong with this premise, but its execution fails on almost all levels. The finished product is an unholy mess of monsters and set pieces. One minute our hero is fighting a demon in a forest, while the next he’s grappling with giant scorpions in a desert. It feels like the producers had a list of scenes that they wanted to bring over from the original, and just started checking them off as they went along.

“Avatar” star Sam Worthington plays the leading role in this version, proving once again that he’s one of the least exciting actors in the business today. He’s competent enough at his craft, and certainly has the physique to be an action hero, but his lack of charisma and screen presence prevents him from being anything more than just adequate.

The film’s only saving grace are the unintentionally hilarious performances by Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes. Neeson’s Zeus parades around Mount Olympus in a glowing suit of armor, barking orders like “Release the Kraken!” with absolute seriousness. In contrast, Fiennes’ Hades slinks around with a hunched back, forcing out his lines with a raspy voice that sounds more like a bad case of bronchitis than wickedness.

When the Kraken finally did get released, I was so detached from the experience that I didn’t even care. In what should have been the most exhilarating scene of the film, I was busy trying to decide what I was going to eat for dinner.

I’m not sure who would enjoy this film, or if it even can be enjoyed. If you have your heart set on seeing it, do yourself a favor and at least go to a 2D showing. You’ll save yourself a few bucks and a massive headache.

Michael Brun is an alumnus of UW-River Falls.