Thursday, April 01, 2010

Clash of the Titans 3D

The Trademarked Anal Look

Clash of the Titans is one of the earliest films I can remember having watched it as a kid in a big theatre, not the multiplexes we have today, and I liked it so much, it probably ranks up there as one film that I've watched the most times, on television reruns, or off a recorded video tape. The story's fairly simple, but to a kid it had plenty of charm, and a basic 101 guide to Greek mythology, of which the promiscuity of the Greek gods struck me as quite odd, save for the need to produce plenty of demi-god heroes from which stories are spun of.

Percy Jackson probably drew first blood in saturating the market about the new adventures of a fresh teenage demi-god, having him battle creatures similar to those found in this mythology. In fact, Clash of the Titans would find it difficult to beat the fun factor of the original film, and the modernized spin that Percy Jackson had to offer. There's little story here, and everything that happened was a sad excuse to get the story quickly moving onto the next big set action sequence. Lead character motivations had been changed significantly, especially with Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) being nothing more than a flower vase, and having her romantic subplot with our hero Perseus (Sam Worthington) being totally removed. I felt that was the first sign of narrative trouble.

Then it became more generic approaches in how to string the action scenes one after another. Each battle will last a significant amount of time, then a little more posturing, before going onto the next. It can easily be split into this sequence of scorpions-medusa-kraken, and each creature design was a shadow to predecessors like Scorpionok's attack in Transformers, Uma Thurman's rendition of Medusa, and Hollywood's Godzilla flop, coming complete with that foam on water approach to the mainland. There's nothing menacing about the monsters unleashing their hell on earth or on the characters, and the Medusa fight, well the original still instills a sense of creepiness, that this one looks more like a walk in the park, and Medusa herself being a Mary Poppins if put side by side with the stop motion predecessor.

If anyone wants to make a film about a hybrid character, then look no further than Sam Worthington, who has been half man half machine in Terminator: Salvation, half man half Na'vi in Avatar, and now, half-man half-god who's tasked to save Andromeda of Argos from being monster sacrifice, should he be able to defeat Hades' Kraken, the source of his power and threat to mankind. Worthington seems pigeon-holed into these kinds of role, and because of Hollywood's current dearth of worthy action heroes, Worthington becomes the latest It boy with his physique and perpetual scowl, being suited perfectly well into this scarcity of actors who can act with their fists, without the compelling need to launch into lengthy dialogue as a professional and career development.

Otherwise the other star studded cast don't do much but pose and prance about in their costumes, with Liam Neeson looking constricted by his Zeus armour, Ralph Fiennes playing Voldermort all over again with his rendition of Hades, and Mads Mikkelsen as Drago the Argos general who has the nicest smirk caught on screen. Gemma Arterton is a surprise inclusion in the film as Io the immortal, which is a new character and given a lot more significance in the mythos now, and is in part one of the major changes in Perseus philosophy, tutoring and motivation, so much so that if I were to use a modern term, the word “cougar” would suit their relationship just fine.

And it is these kinds of little artistic license taken, that will likely leave the purist in you perturbed. Bubo the Golden Owl has a quick cameo to appease fans, but like the gods who are never satisfied with the pittance of worship obtained from the humans, we too think that it's not enough, since Pegasus too went through a none too subtle change in skin colour. Sorry, but to me, Pegasus the winged horse, will forever remain white. There are a few conversational pieces in the film that brilliantly introduces us to the world of the jealous Greek gods and they work wonderfully, such as their innate differences and why the brothers Zeus and Hades hate each other so much, but some were rather cringeworthy, especially when modern curses somehow found their place in a swords and sandals film as this.

I suppose you'll know by now that the film was never shot using 3D technology, and that it was only during post production, thanks to the mega box office success of Avatar, when it was decided to have a 3D version made for this film as well. The result? Millions spent enhancing nothing. Sure there's depth of field, but nothing to wow a jaded audience familiar with what a 3D film is expected to bring to the table. In fact, this film would be better off seen in a digital 2D format, since none of the action sequence even had a whiff of a suggestion of being in your face, since after all, it was conceptualized for a flat presentation. The Mandarin subtitles, was the only thing that's consistently 3D throughout the film.

Bottom line, it's extremely sterile and devoid of soul, whereas the original film had plenty of heart, and charming stop motion special effects to elevate it to cult status. This one will likely be forgotten since it's nothing more than mediocre drama and ordinary set action pieces, though I will not deny that its marketing would ensure that it will garner some decent cash from the Easter holiday market segment. The original is so much better since this is all generic action and little charm.

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