The classic 80’s film about the demi-god Perseus is retold and heavily altered
with an easier-to-follow set of characters and intentions, but lacks a lot of depth the updated visuals, and similarly shallow 3D, can’t fill.
Sam Worthington plays Perseus, the orphan son of Zeus and a human mother. He is adopted by a kind fisherman and his wife who treat him like he is one of their own. After Hades, god of the underworld, senselessly destroys their fishing boat, killing Perseus’ adopted family, it sets Perseus on a path of revenge. It’s a cliche setup, but performed confidently and gives Perseus a highly relate-able motivation the audience quickly identifies with. Too bad there’s little emotional character development from then on.
Stranded, Perseus is taken in by the people of Argos who no longer worship the gods after years of suffering. Argos intends to hurt the gods by taking down their temples, statues, and ceasing prayers across the land. The gods, you see, are made strong and immortal by the prayers and beliefs in them by man. The gods don’t like this idea and Hades convinces Zeus to take lethal action against them so they may come back to the gods out of fear.
Hades offers the people of Argos a choice: sacrifice the beautiful princess (it’s always a beautiful princess because in mythology, even an ugly queen and ugly king, will produce beautiful offspring) as a sign of faith in the gods again, or face the wrath of the Kraken – a giant, superpowerful sea monster. Perseus is quickly drawn into the fight so he may kill Hades, and tags along with Argos’ mightiest warriors, helped by Io, a wise and beautiful, but cursed, metahuman.
Action ensues as the warriors fight their way ultimately to Medusa, whose head that can turn men into stone, is the only way to stop the Kraken before he destroys Argos. The action moves quickly with expected pauses and breaks for exposition and minor character development that’s fleeting enough not to be boring. It may be a little bit too fleeting. Perseus for example, is a fisherman, but is far too quickly indoctrinated into the ways of a warrior. He is the only one that can stop the Kraken, but must battle incredibly scary monsters before he faces the sea creature. We are to believe a fisherman can wield a sword, confidently, and successfully, after a 2 minute lesson from the leader of the Argos warriors. This is explained deus-ex-machina-style, by insinuating these skills come from his god-side. I could believe an intense montage, P90X-style regime, but this is ridiculous.
If you can put the minor inconsistencies and cliches aside, the action-pieces are rather enjoyable. Everyone gets involved, including Io, but sadly, not in the skimpy, Wonder Woman or Tomb Raider-way you might think. It culminates in the final confrontation with the Kraken, but like the original film, the most memorable is the fight with Medusa – a multi-layered affair involving all the warriors. The characters and setups differ quite a bit from the original, both the Greek and the first film, including a secondary enemy plot-line involving Hades’ henchman. It streamlines the story into a singular arc that’s easy to follow, but also pedestrian. It left me, and could leave you, rather ambivalent to the small twist at the end.
The 3D Experience
The 3D in Clash Of The Titans is shallow, blurry and glitchy. The film was not shot using stereographic cameras, but converted to 3D far into post production. Originally intended to be a 2D action pic, Warner Brothers decided to delay the film’s release after they found a 3D conversion test to be successful, subsequently heavily trumpeting the 3D feature. After watching the full film, it’s obvious the studio decided a cheap conversion would make a great cash-grab, after the success of Avatar.
Nothing “stands out”. Unlike a true stereoscopic film where shapes have roundness and depth, everything is rather flat in this film. There is a sense of depth, but not at the right scale, for example, Perseus standing far behind someone else, doesn’t look that much farther behind than he should be. It feels like you’re looking at a pop-up book with characters and sets existing on flat planes. Part of the blame falls on the 3D conversion process which tries to imitate 3D, but never feels like the real thing. It’s much like those processes that claim to convert standard definition, to high definition – it’s not true high definition and it’s rather obvious.
Alice In Wonderland also underwent 3D conversion in post production, but at a more sophisticated level. 3D on film works best when you have a very deep depth of field, thereby keeping everything mostly in focus. When a viewer’s eyes moves around the screen, the focus is always sharp, much like when you look around your surroundings, your eyes automatically adjust focus to what you’re looking at. With Alice In Wonderland, Tim Burton shot the live action and created the CG, with this in mind, making the film look very 3D even though it wasn’t. Clash Of The Titans however, was shot in traditional film-making style, with shallow depth of field for closeups for example. CG work was also completed in 2D, with the final product simply running through a 3D process, giving you that fake, imitation 3D appearance.
The poor 3D is further complicated by the shaky camera work. Quick pans, quick cuts, and hand-held-style camera-work are very bad for 3D because viewers eyes can’t adjust that quickly to the constant change in focus and movement. It can give you headaches. They could have at least run the film through an anti-shake/steadying filter. The level of ignorance about 3D by the producers is mind-boggling.
I watched Clash of the Titans in an AMC ETX theatre with Real D technology. ETX is like AMC’s mini version of IMAX. It’s a much larger screen and better sound. Combined with Real D, I find it superior to IMAX 3D because IMAX uses linear polarization. The audio may be too loud for some, but you could feel the ground rumble beneath you. In my local theatre, the ETX 3D showing was just $4 more, which compares favourably to theatres with IMAX 3D for $5 extra in my area. I recommend skipping any of these upgrades and save your $4-$5.
Hotness Of Girl(s)
Clash Of The Titans is such a family-oriented affair that everyone is covered up to the point of conservativeness. When you think ancient Greek, you think about all the naked statues and flowy, skin-bearing togas. Not here. I think you see more skin in the original Clash Of The Titans. The main female leads, Gemma Arterton and Alexa Davalos, are beautiful, gorgeous women, but are too plain here. Remember the minor boobage you saw in Avatar (albeit of humanoid, CG aliens) and the great potential for more in 3D? There was opportunity for Clash Of The Titans to have scantily clad women (or even bare-chested, warrior men like 300) in robes that seem to always show side-boob, and the interesting sensation of seeing that in 3D re-igniting childhood feelings of the first time you saw cleavage, but Warner Brothers wasted it.
This updated Clash Of The Titans is an enjoyable action film to spend a couple of hours shutting off your brain to simply watch the spectacle. Some of the plot progression is a little contrived, but the action pieces are well-done and make you forget the wrinkles. Too bad the heavily hyped 3D aspect is a complete let-down. If you enjoy these types of mindless, fantasy action pics, you’ll enjoy this film. Just skip the 3D.