Title: Clash o'the Titans
Posted: April 01, 2010 (08:20 AM)
Tonight a couple of my friends and I followed up a meal of Chinese BBQ with a trip to the late session of 3-D "Clash of the Titans" on the film's opening eve here in Sydney. For readers who don't know, this is a remake of the 1981 fantasy adventure film of the same name. The original was a starry eyed movie which left generally positive impressions on most kids who saw it at the time (including myself, and one of my two accompanying friends), and which in film history terms is important as the last film to feature the creature work of stop motion pioneer Ray Harryhausen.
I was in a very receptive mood tonight and basically enjoyed the experience, making ongoing comparisons to the original film in my head as it bounced along – in spite of all the criticisms I am about to dole out.
The remake has a grungy, ugly look and a completely joyless opening quarter of an hour. Sam Worthington's blokey performance as Perseus turns out to be roughly interchangeable with the performances he gave in both Avatar and the last Terminator film, though Clash has next to no character development on the cards for any of its actors. What little humour there is comes in the form of cynical one-liners from one of Perseus's bearded mates. The film is mostly a series of grunty fight scenes involving sandaled humans versus giant CGI monsters – giant scorpions, giant medusa, giant kraken, etc.
One of the heroes of the original Clash was a cute clockwork golden owl named Bubo. When trailers for the new Clash were screening, my friend and I joked about whether Bubo would make the remake. I said, "there's no way they're going to have a cute robot owl. This film looks way too grungy and they're playing heavy metal music on the trailer."
To all our surprises, Bubo did appear, albeit for ten seconds. Just before Perseus sets out on his adventure, he is digging around in a supply chest when he pulls out... Bubo, looking and sounding exactly like the little blighter did in 1981. This caused me to cry aloud: "Oh my God!"
Perseus considers the owl briefly and says something like, "What the hell is this?" His bearded one-linery friend responds with, "Don't worry about it, just leave it here." Then they shove the owl back in the box and go adventuring. In retrospect this was the wittiest moment in the whole film, even if it only made sense to people who knew the original. If you had been wondering if the owl would reappear, this scene both satisfied your desire to see the owl again and then reassured you that, "Okay, that's the owl issue dealt with, so no, the owl won't be in the film in general, and now you can stop worrying about it."
The basic strike against the new film, which amounts to 1000 strikes, is that not a single aspect of it is developed in any satisfying way. Dialogue is absolute nuts and bolts stuff to propel the simple plot. The people in the film aren't moved when their pals are killed, so you aren't either. There's a cast of gods in Olympus, but 80% of them stand in the background saying nothing. ALSO... Some witches make a prophecy which is never heard of again, and Zeus rants about not wanting to help his demigod son, but then immediately loads him up with weapons and goodies in the next scene.
The new Princess Andromeda is dull as dishwater in a cut down role (but I was kind of in love with Judi Bowker of the original film, so I am biased). The principal female role now belongs to lovely Gemma Arterton as Io, the ageless half human, uh, toga'd spirit type woman.(?) If I thought anyone would ever say anything remotely poetic in this film, I'd have put money on her character saying it. But nobody does and she didn't.
The old Clash of the Titans was extraordinary with romance, G rated magic and beautiful scenery, no matter how naff some of it was. The new one is ugly and weak, brisk and dumb. I think it's safe to say that no kid who is seven years old now will be looking back on this film with any fondness in thirty years' time. I enjoyed my evening for basic "enjoyment of being alive and going to movies" reasons, however I predict I won't be looking back on this film with any fondness in about seven days.
Posted: April 01, 2010 (08:38 AM)
I'm hearing the 3D is absolutely atrocious. I'll watch the 2D version if I check it out at all... but then I probably won't.
Posted: April 01, 2010 (08:59 AM)
Since the 'REAL D' technology has been in use, there haven't actually been many movies with real people against real backdrops to use it in a natural looking way. 'My Bloody Valentine' is about the only one, it but was dark and choppy film anyway.
'Clash' lets you see what's going on, but I did find the 3d bizarre at the start. People's faces were really cavernously deep! On the plus side, some women have fairly projective breasts.
There are also lots of 'tracking around object shots', and the far edges of objects never seem to go out of view. It did seem odd. I didn't feel it was terrible, just that some of the artefacts of it were more visible than I've seen before, due to the nature of the material.
It's interesting when you watch these to think they're probably still trying to work out a protocol of 3D. We have a lot of protocols of sound editing and image editing, but the rules for 3d that will both make sense and make people comfortable are still being developed I guess, and this gives filmmakers using it at this time the license to experiment.
Posted: April 01, 2010 (03:04 PM)
How does everything look, CG-wise? I had already given up hopes of it being a good movie in terms of plot or dialogue, but I figured the CG might be the one area where it looks bad-ass.
How'd it turn out?
Posted: April 01, 2010 (07:53 PM)
Hm, well... I dunno, I guess if I think CGI looks bad, my brain screams that at me. My brain didn't scream that at me, but this is certainly wall to wall CGI for scenery, monsters and grading, to the point you just have (or at least I just have) a constant awareness of being in CGI, which just doesn't make for a very real experience.
This is why I like 80s fantasy films - they go to places and shoot real mountain ranges and stuff. When even the mountains have no sense of distance, plus the whole world's ugly, somehow I never get into it.
I think the Scorpions were winners. They seem big and thunderous. The new medusa is cool but conspicuously CGI-y as she must be.