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Review: "Clash of the Titans"

Friday, April 2, 2010 - - 0 Comments

SPOILER-FREE SUMMARY:


A great fantastic epic, well worth your theater dollars--but don't see it in 3D; you're not missing a thing.


WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW!!!


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I have a confession to make: before today I'd never seen the 1981 original Clash of the Titans.  I know, I know, it's nerd blasphemy.  I did, however, seek to remedy that affront before I set out to see the remake.  This morning I queued up the original on Netflix and watched it on the Xbox.  I enjoyed it a lot more than I'd anticipated.  Now, the only reason I bring all of this up is so you realize that this review is not written from the point of view of someone who grew up with the original and has that nostalgic love for it.


Going in to the new Clash of the Titans, I still really wanted to hate it.  In fact for the first quarter of the movie, I kinda did.  It was a little boring and a lot of the changes to the plot made little sense.  I'd read a few other reviews and was almost certain that I would end up agreeing with all the naysayers.  But after the visit with the Stygian witches, things took a turn for the better.  Perseus's speech brings the group together and the movie takes on the feel of a classic fantasy quest, ala Lord of the Rings.  Now, this movie is no LOTR by any stretch of the imagination.  What I mean is that, as a fantasy fan, what appeals to me is a band of heroes coming together and venturing out on a quest.  It's the classic setup, one that makes not only LOTR great, but also Star Wars, the Dragonlance series, or Shannara.  Unlike the original, in this version all of Perseus' men are given personalities and lives that you truly care about.  After that I was totally on board.


Let's break it down into what worked and didn't work.  I absolutely loved: Io (beautiful, smart, and cunning), Black Pegasus (I sneered at first but it's actually pretty badass), Medusa (beautiful but deadly--perfectly rendered), The Djin (my favorites of the whole movie), Charon & The River Styx (although Dante's Inferno did it better), Ralph Fiennes & Liam Neeson (both stellar actors, neither one dumbing it down), The Kraken (epic and frightening--again, perfectly rendered), Pete Postlethwaite (one of my favorite character actors; a shame his part is so small), The Bubo cameo (such a stupid character but totally worthy of a cameo), Alexander Siddig (the DS9 vet has a teeny, tiny role as Hermes).


    So what didn't work?  The 3D.  Yep, the rumors are true: this is a terrible 3D movie.  Here's the difference between the different types of 3D--films like Avatar are filmed with 3D digital cameras and the director can literally see the scene in 3D on the set monitor and plan his shots accordingly, whereas films like Clash of the Titans or Alice in Wonderland were filmed with normal cameras and a 3D effect was added in post-production, resulting in a sort of "pop-up book" feeling.  Unfortunately, Titans was rushed through the 3D process and the result is that it adds nothing to the film whatsoever.  In fact, it's downright distracting at times.  Oh, you know what?  I just realized that the 3D does add something to the film--$4.00 more to the ticket price.  Please, please, please, I implore you--if you see this film in the theater, see it in 2D.  I know you're curious, thinking maybe I'm wrong or all of the critics are just exaggerating but I promise you, we're not.

    On a side note, I think Hollywood is going to learn a hard lesson this weekend.  Over the past several years, Tyler Perry has been quietly releasing his small urban films against these kinds of Hollywood blockbusters and his films continue to earn as much or more than most of these big budget epics.  I visited two theaters tonight before seeing Clash of the Titans and although Titans was sold out at both of them, Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too was sold out on more screens.  Now granted, there were more screen devoted to Titans overall but I wouldn't be surprised at all to learn that Mr. Perry's new film takes in the same or more than Titans this weekend.  Just goes to show, it's the story that counts.  And, as a writer, that always makes me smile.

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