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Sam Worthington slashes, bashes through angry “Clash” remake


Clash of the Titans (**1/2 out of 4)
Let’s keep things in perspective. Louis Leterrier isn’t attempting to revitalize Shakespeare, perform a shot-for-shot remake of “Citizen Kane,” or commit John Kennedy Toole’s allegedly unadaptable “A Confederacy of Dunces” to film. He’s updating Desmond Davis’ 1981 fantasy “Clash of the Titans,” which itself was a gooey, golden block of creamy Velveeta. And he does a pretty good job.

That sounds like a halfhearted recommendation, and “Clash” is a halfhearted adventure, picking up pace for a handful of action sequences but content to jog in place when swords aren’t being swung at imaginatively mystical creatures.

Leterrier’s “Clash” is as cheesy as Davis’ original, but this is a bitter wedge of Gouda that’s far angrier than its fanciful predecessor. The largest shift saddles half-human/half-God Perseus (originally Harry Hamlin, now Sam Worthington) with a vengeful motive for taking down the meddlesome inhabitants of Olympus after Hades (Ralph Fiennes) wipes out his mother and father. The change robs Perseus of a viable character arc, but Worthington’s only capable of playing one gruff note, and that suits most of Leterrier’s “Clash” to a tee.

Other than that, there are three benchmarks you need to hit in re-telling “Clash,” and for the most part, Leterrier nails them. The ancient sets are properly opulent, an indirect comment on humanity’s boastful, entitled attitude (which eventually angers the Gods). Perseus’ confrontation with the serpentine Medusa is adequately terrifying. It’s the only time in “Clash” that we legitimately fear our unstoppable hero won’t succeed in his mission. And then there’s The Kraken, a towering beast of burden born of Hades (yet no longer controlled by Poseidon, for some odd reason), that benefits from the industry’s advancement of special effects.

What hasn’t advanced – at least not yet – is the industry’s method of applying 3-D visual effects to a film that was shot in a traditional 2-D method. That’s painfully obvious on “Clash,” which was delayed by Warner so the studio could “convert” Leterrier’s picture and tap into the 3-D marketplace that’s currently being enjoyed by James Cameron’s “Avatar” and Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland.” In hindsight, it was a bad decision on the studio’s part that does more harm than good to Leterrier’s finished product. The conversion process, at this stage, is far from perfect. At best, the 3-D visuals in “Clash” are irrelevant. At worst, they are headache-inducing. Sadly, certain scenes would thrive in 3-D if Leterrier had been able to film organically using the three-dimensional process. Imagine immersing yourself in battle alongside Perseus as he rides the winged Pegasus around, under and over The Kraken! Alas, it’s not to be.

Now, I’m not saying 3-D conversion is a bust. Hopefully we’re in the early stages of the process, and in time, filmmakers will perfect the concept of transforming a 2-D image into a robust 3-D picture. Because right now, films like “Clash” and “Alice” are coming off as cheap attempts to price gouge ticket buyers. And if that continues, the real clash will be waged between unsatisfied ticket purchasers and the titans who run Hollywood’s studios.


About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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  • April 2, 2010 | Permalink |

    “The Kraken, a towering beast of burden born of Hades (yet no longer controlled by Poseidon, for some odd reason)”–
    why would something born of Hades be controlled by Poseidon?

  • April 2, 2010 | Permalink |

    Well, Poseidon controlled the underwater creature in the original, and he is the God of the Sea, so I figured they’d maintain that connection. Not essential … just strange.

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