'Clash of the Titans' falls flat

Posted: Thursday, April 08, 2010

C an 3D take a movie from "okay" to "freaking amazing"? I cannot say for sure, because off the top of my head, I do not recall any movies I have even seen in 2D and then 3D. It is always one or the other. In Juneau, the decision is made for us in advance: 2D. "Clash of the Titans" might be a totally different experience in 3D.

For folks in the Lower 48 that have the option, I hope that is the case. In 2D, the $125 million budgeted epic adventure loosely adapted from Greek mythology falls a bit flat. There is just a dimension missing somehow. The effects don't exactly jump off the screen at you. Okay, I'll stop there.

Whether or not 3D would make the experience more enjoyable, it would not change the fact that the story of "Clash" is never captivating. The screenwriting trio of Travis Beacham, Phil Hay, and Matt Manfredi had two quality sources to draw from (the original movie and Greek mythology), and they still managed to write a boring film. Some of the dialogue, which is the kind of stuff you can recite with the actors on screen even if it's the first time you're seeing it, drew snickers from folks around me in the theater. Rightfully so. Sam Worthington, as Perseus, does his best to deliver his lines with every ounce of heroic strength he can muster... but it is hard to say things like, "Everyone I love was killed by the gods," and not sound like you're on a daytime soap opera. The lines are over the top anyway, but when they are being executed by characters running from giant scorpions it seems even sillier.

What is a shame is that the story should be good. Perseus is part man, part god, something he is unaware of until Hades (Ralph Fiennes), ruler of the underworld, kills Perseus' family. Perseus winds up in the coastal town of Argos, where the locals are busy doing everything they can to tempt the wrath of "the gods." Namely, Zeus (Liam Neeson), who for the purposes of "Clash" is The God. Zeus created man. There are layers of juicy back story amongst the gods as Zeus and Hades are brothers, but Hades was tricked by his brother into getting stuck in the underworld. That is fitting, of course, since Hades is evil. As Perseus unwittingly enters the picture, Hades is scheming to trick Zeus into letting him back topside, so to speak. Most of his plan relies on the creature called the "kraken," which is prominently featured in the trailers.

Did I mention yet that Zeus is Perseus' birth father? It seems Zeus, to teach a certain human being a lesson, impregnated Perseus' mother under false pretenses. If you start researching these characters, however, you will see just what the term "loosely adapted" means. Whatever amount of artistic license Beacham, Hay and Manfredi took, though, the story should have been fantastic! It isn't. The course is set fairly early and there aren't any real twists or surprises along the way. Much of the time, actually, Louis Leterrier's movie borders dangerously on feeling totally unoriginal. "Lord of the Rings" and "Harry Potter" might as well be listed in the credits somewhere.

Greek mythology, a classic original, and $125 million should add up to more than this version of "Clash of the Titans." At the very least, I wish the screenwriting team would have turned off "General Hospital" while they were writing the script, because that style of dialogue probably cannot even be saved by 3D.

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