Critics “Clash” with “Titans” 3-D process

Articles posted this week ahead of Louis Leterrier’s “Clash of the Titans” remake have been harsh. Our full review will be posted Friday, and it’s more positive than most takes I’ve read. But the sharpest jabs thrown by critics have less to do with Leterrier’s actual film than with the 3-D conversion that was applied to the movie after it was shot.

If you didn’t know, Warner opted to delay the “Clash” release by a few weeks so the film could be transformed from 2-D (as Leterrier originally shot it) to 3-D. A similar process was applied to Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” as studios try to tap into the 3-D hysteria generated — in part — by James Cameron’s “Avatar.”

But there is a noticeable difference (or lack of a visual difference) between films that are organically filmed from scratch in 3-D (like “Avatar” or the animated “How to Train Your Dragon”), and films that have the third dimension tacked on in post.

Critics are pointing this out, and so far, they are not pleased. Writing for AMC FilmCritic, columnist John Scalzi said:

“If you’re going to do 3D, you need to do it well, and you need to do it from the start: Natively filmed in 3D, so that your production is designed to have it as a part of the process, not tacked on as an afterthought for a quick hit of cash. … Squirting on an extra dimension in post-production isn’t going to save a dodgy film, especially if the end result is that the 3D process makes it look worse, not better.”‘s Devin Faraci echoes the sentiment, saying:

“Post-conversion creates pop-up book 3D, where everything is a flat plane that is separated from other flat planes, offering illusory depth, but Clash takes that to the next level. … Director Louis Leterrier flew all over the world to get impressive backgrounds for the epic, but in post-converted 3D many of these landscapes are ruined, with the planes being all over the place. … It’s a goddamn disaster, frankly.”

And in his review, HitFix‘s Drew McWeeny writes:

“The 3D post-production conversion process used on “Clash” is an unwatchable mess, ugly and strange and difficult to sit through.”

While I enjoyed the film on a whole, I have to agree with these guys about the 3-D conversion. In the film’s current condition, it’s completely unnecessary. Yet there are scenes that could have made tremendous use of 3-D technology — from the Kraken battle to the raid on Medusa’s lair — if Leterrier had the option to film in an organic 3-D from day one.

It remains to be seen how audiences will respond. The 3-D in “Alice” didn’t strike me as anything special, and I spent a decent chunk of that film watching it with my clunky glasses in my lap. But patrons spoke with their ticket purchases, and the movie has amassed $297.5 million as of April 1. If “Clash” pulls in similar numbers, these early complaints from the critical community likely will fall on deaf ears at the studios. But I’m hoping this is the first step in the post-conversion process, and that a year from now, we’ll look back on films like “Alice” and “Clash” and acknowledge how mediocre the conversion was, but how they eventually pushed us to a place that’s acceptable for studios, filmmakers and audience members.


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