Clash of the Titans (2010): * 3/4 (out of 4)
It's been a month since I saw the new version of Clash of the Titans, and I still haven't written up my review. This is pretty much because I didn't really have that much to say about it that hadn't already been said. But a few people have asked about it anyway, and I did take some reasonable notes, so perhaps it's worth writing up something.
The short version: this was a bad movie for all of the reasons that big summer movies are often bad. I look at it as a step down from last year's Terminator 4, a movie which had some potential but wasted it.
But why exactly does that movie come to mind? For starters, both movies suffered pretty badly from extremely poor decisions from on-high that changed the central flow of the film. In T4's case, it was the decision to focus on John Connor directly; in CotT's case, it was in the nature of the Perseus's quest and his relationship to the Gods. This is detailed in a CHUD article, which is fascinating and spoiler-heavy. If you've read this far, I recommend continuing on to that article as well.
But that's not really all of it. More to the point was a fundamental attempt to add darkness to an already gritty (if a bit wacky) storyline. In T4, this came at the expensive a consistent storyline and relevant characters; in Clash, it came at the expense of the pre-existing story and characters, especially when it came to motivations. Perseus's quest was changed so much from what it was supposed to be (vengeance instead of heroism) that it wasn't even fulfilled! This isn't quite as bad as the fact that T4 forgot to relate to its own subtitle, but it's close.
And then there's the issue of "villains". Zeus could have been an ambivalent villain here; instead, he was just badly characterized. This was similar to the way that that T4's Skynet almost had some sympathy delivered to it, but managed to mess it up at every turn. Shades of grey may be a good idea, but it doesn't work by just cutting back and forth between black and white.
Anyway. There's more to the analogy, but I shouldn't get too far in unless I want to start adding spoilers.
There are plenty of other things to rant about, but waiting a month has made me lose interest in pursuing them, though between them they definitely knocked a few points off of the final score. Yes, the Pegasus was useless; the idea of a pantheon of Gods was completely wasted; the "quest" was ludicrous; the Kraken was both over- and under-utilized; the random attack on the mechanical owl was nauseating; etc. But so what? Compared to the wrong-headedness of the movie itself, those points hardly rank.
There is one point worth harping on. Clash was the first movie I've seen in theatres in a while where 3D was an option but I did not use it. The reviews warned me off; and as far as I can tell, it was a good thing. I'm growing less and less enamored with 3D as the year progresses, and the fact that the studios are trying to shoehorn it into shaky-cam-action movies like this worries me for the future. We've gone past over-use of the gimmick, and into buzzword-compliance territory. It's really frustrating, and it's made worse because I know that it's making the studios obscene amounts of money. sigh