Objectively, Clash of the Titans is not a good movie. The characters are names rather than people, the action scenese are incomprehensible, and the adventure never builds to a climax. Subjectively, it feels like a classic 80s b-movie, consisting of cheese, cheese, and cheeze-whiz, and that kind of picture always hits my sweet spot.
Unfortunately, the film takes itself too seriously by a measure and a half, and thus deprives modern audiences the opportunity to revel fully in the badness that is unfolding. Essentially a ‘sword and sandals’ picture, Clash needs to glory more in the seedier aspects of the story. Without bloodlust or, indeed, any kind of lust at all, the epic tale of gods and mortals remains resolutely strait-laced. Clash didn’t need to be post-modern; the filmmakers just needed to take a step back and remember why heroic adventures are so appealing to the 12-year-old inside all of us.
That being said, a decent action picture is readily on display in the 2-D version. In his review, Steve Norwood wrote in part: “The action in Clash is so blurred and indecipherable in places that it quickly becomes annoying. And this isn’t just the headache-inducing 3-D effects at work, though they don’t help matters either. Like Avatar, Clash is a film that would have been just fine without the 3-D system backing it up, but instead that highly-evolved technological advance ends up muddying otherwise decent visuals.” I agree that the action is nearly impossible to follow, but, in contrast, I will argue that the action scenes in director Louis Leterrier’s previous films, Transporter 2 and The Incredible Hulk, were no more decipherable than they are here.
The plague of lightning edits and quick whip-pans has been upon us for years now, to the point that we expect action scenes to consist of a blur of color and movement and sound effects, signifying nothing. Clash of the Titans is no better and no worse in this respect, making the multiple action sequences something to endure rather than something to savor.
The original Clash of the Titans was no great shakes, either, remembered more fondly with the passage of time than it was received upon its original release. I’m old enough to have paid for a ticket during the 1981 theatrical run, and all I remember is Harry Hamlin in a dress, the flying horse, and Laurence Olivier as Zeus.
Sam Worthington makes for a more convincing Perseus than Hamlin, who looked vaguely embarrassed to be appearing in a fantasy flick. Worthington didn’t leave much impression on me in Terminator: Salvation or Avatar, but here he strikes me as a convincing, low-key hero type. He doesn’t exactly ooze charm and humor, yet that seems to serve Perseus well.
Clash of the Titans is a smash in 2-D, but I must admit that my expectations were lowered considerably after reading some of the reviews. A matinee show in 2-D might be just the ticket.