There's a host of things wrong with the latest telling of the timeless legend that is "Clash of the Titans," including dreadful acting and brutal dialogue. But perhaps the worst offense in an effort that manages to make a thousands-of-years-old story dull is the utterly gratuitous use of 3D.
James Cameron, the man who started this whole 3D nonsense, tried to warn his peers against the siren's song of 2D-to-3D conversion.
"Now, you’ve got people quickly converting movies from 2D to 3D, which is not what we did," Cameron recently told Deadline Hollywood. "They’re expecting the same result, when in fact they will probably work against the adoption of 3D because they’ll be putting out an inferior product."
Let "Clash of the Titans" stand as Exhibit A in this debate. There are precious few scenes for which a third dimension makes the action more real. Perhaps no moment in the film benefited more from the technology than a coin skipping across water -- RIGHT FOR YOUR HEAD! So, yeah, gratuitous. For the rest of the film, it's little more than a headache-inducing distraction. Why on Earth would you want a person's out-of-focus face floating out over the audience?
The storytelling is no better. You know the old dictum, "Show, don't tell"? Watching "Titans," it becomes clear that it needs an amendment: "Do not, under any circumstances, do both simultaneously." Must we start with five minutes of narration about the Greek gods and how they created the Earth and on and on? One gets bored just remembering it. By the time Hades first warns the people of Argos that they have just 10 days to offer a sacrifice, all I could think was, "Make it three?"
Sam Worthington is well on his way to becoming the Keanu Reeves of his generation: a really pretty guy who looks good in a bodysuit/wetsuit/loincloth, but can't act. Reeves at least built up some credibility and goodwill early in his career, showing a modicum of comedic timing in "Bill & Ted's" and some indie cred with roles in films like "River's Edge." Maybe Worthington's got some chops, but if so, he's hiding them nicely.
To be fair, no amount of talent could overcome the words -- and costumes -- the actors are given to work with. Voldemort seems to think we wouldn't recognize him under all the fake hair, beard and nose, but it's clearly him. And Liam Neeson resembles nothing so much as a cross between Barry Gibb and Tony Manero. The flowing beard, the sparkly suit... Despite having not yet met Zeus, one can still be reasonably sure that he doesn't dress like that.
What of the Kraken? He's mostly thrashing tentacles, with a face that looks like an H.R. Giger drawing of a sphincter. And because the film was shot before the decision to go 3D, the Kraken's fury never comes at you. Frankly, by the time the Kraken shows up, you're rooting for him (it? her?) to take your frustrations out on Argos.
The only real upside to this "Clash of the Titans" is that it leaves plenty of room for Tarsem's "War of the Gods," which tells the same story and was just recently slated for an 11/11/11 release. You've waited this long, what's another year and a half?