Friday, April 2, 2010

Clash Of The Titans, 2010 (Movie Review)

Although the original "Clash Of The Titans" was among my childhood fantasy movie favorites, my memories of it are dim at best. Though I've seen enough clips of it in my adult life to be reminded of what the movie looked like, it's general feel, and the state of special effects. Because of this, I was able to make a few comparisons to the original when I saw the 2010 remake, but not enough that the original, or it's plot was constantly on my mind. I went to see the new "Clash" because I'm a die-hard fan of fantasy sword and sorcery flicks and this looked like it could be one of them. And it was. With both the good and bad that comes with that sort of movie.

Despite the sometimes edgier dialogue and advanced special effects, Clash Of The Titans feels much like several fantasy movies of the 70's and 80's. The characters are 2-dimensional with Sam Worthington's Perseus and Liam Neeson's Zeus being the only two with any discernible traces of character development. The acting is generally shallow and the plot extremely simple. But there are many classics in this genre that share these traits. Nostalgia may cloud our judgment, but if we're honest, these attributes were the rule, not the exception of fantasy movies in the 70's and 80's.

The action sequences are very cool and have the visceral flair common to fight scenes since "300", though without the same extravagance. The creature effects look very much like CGI and the Medusa painfully so. To my eye, this new Medusa looks just as artificial as the original, only for different reasons. A considerable let down. However, the magical effects in this movie were stunning in their best moments. Hades looks awe-inspiring in the midst of his dark, smoky splendor, and this movie may end up on my shelf someday for that reason alone. Make-up effects are also fascinating to look at, the witches and the D'Jinn being among my favorites. On the whole, this movie has a dark, slightly washed-out feel that conveys a bleak despair uncommon to film portrayals of Greek myth. A welcome change of pace from the sterile white togas common to classic depictions of Greek mythology.

Despite these strong points, the movie needed 15 minutes more of something. Either more character development, or more special effects and adventure. After some exciting opening sequences, the movie slows down and introduces characters without fleshing them out before they die or leave. And although the giant CGI scorpions were cool, I would rather have seen less of them and made more time for an additional unique obstacle for the heroes to overcome.

Regarding 3D. I opted to see this movie in 2D when I learned that, unlike Avatar and other recent 3D films, "Clash" was not intended to be in 3D but was hastily converted to 3D in a mere 8-weeks. Multiple reviewers (and my parents) mostly agree that it's not worth the money to see it in 3D and some have said it even makes the movie worse because of the poor conversion and the unintended side-effects it has on the film. I apologize for not braving the 3D experience on your behalf, but before a reviewer I am a geek first and foremost. I wanted every chance to enjoy a new fantasy film as much as possible.

A very strong theme in the first act is that of "humanity verses the gods". The gods are blamed for every ill that comes upon man and deservedly so. The way the gods are portrayed in this movie likely paints a good picture of how many people view God. I would wager that for many people the only difference between the "Christian God" and the gods in this movie is that all of the character traits split up between multiple gods in this movie are present in one God in Christianity. A great question on the drive home from this movie might be, "If God exists, in what ways do you think we are like him and in what ways do you think we aren't?" To a certain extent, we have to see God in human terms, comparing his characteristics to human ones. But if this is taken too far, we wind up with a view of God very much like the gods of this movie. Impotent, needy, petty, and ignorant. In other words, more like us than we'd like to admit. And by contrast, we view ourselves as basically good. Maybe we even feel, as the humans do in this movie, that a certain deity needs to learn a lesson and we are the ones to teach him. "Clash Of The Titans" provides an easy springboard for finding out a person's view of God's characteristics.

Rated PG-13 for fantasy action violence, some frightening images and brief sensuality.

Quality: 8/10

Relevance: 8.5/10

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