Sunday, April 25, 2010

"Clash of the Titans"

I am not often willing to spend the money to see a movie in theaters when I feel the movie is likely to suck. I’ve written before that “it’s all about expectations” and if I expect a movie to be bad, why would I put my $10 (or $15, as the case may be these days) into helping said bad movie make bank? But there are rare occasions when common sense is trumped by a Voice and the Voice leads me into the lion’s den, so to speak. Sometimes the Voice is that of my wife. Did I think “Bride Wars” would be terrible? Yes. Did I see it anyway? Yes. Did I want to kill myself afterward or halfway through? A little bit, yes. But the Voice took me there anyway. Sometimes the Voice is that of The Nerd Inside. Did I see all the terrible signs leading up to “Terminator: Salvation?” Yup. Did I let that stop me? No, I was there at Midnight and yes, the warning signs were correct.

Sometimes, however, the Voice takes on the form of Childishness. Full of precociousness and wonderment, the Voice of Childishness calls out, “Come on…come on…come on…” until I give in and find myself doing something stupid. In this case, Childishness sparked when a Thursday email reminded me that the next day was Good Friday and I didn’t have to go to work. What shall I do with my new found freedom, I asked myself. Immediately I realized what I must do: assemble a group to recreate the magical Summer of the Nerd and see a sure-to-be-terrible nerdy movie. And so, at 10:45 (because there were no Midnight showings that weren’t in 3D and weren’t at the Rave where even Childishness couldn’t drag me), two friends and I found ourselves in a theater watching “Clash of the Titans.”

“Titans” is a remake of the 1980 cult classic of the same name. I’ve never seen the original but everything I’ve heard suggests it’s about on par with the review I’m about to give for this version. “Titans” follows Persues (Sam Worthington) as he wages war against some of the gods and monsters of Greek mythology in an effort to…well, I’m not really sure. I guess to save this princess of some random human city that he just met 10 minutes prior to taking on this challenge and to avenge the death of his human father. The setup isn’t really a big part of the “plot” here. Perseus is actually the fun-baby of Zeus and so there are some conflicts of interest here as you can imagine. Zeus wants to crush the spirit of the rebellious humans so he unleashes his brother Hades on the world but he also doesn’t want his son to perish. Meanwhile Perseus wants to put a beat down on the gods but isn’t completely sure how he feels about Zeus. Add into the equation the guy who would have been Perseus’ Earthly father had he not cast him and his mother into the sea plus some ridiculous monsters and a weird demi-god who’s been watching Perseus since he was born (creepy) and you’ve got yourself a movie! Sort of.

I will say three things in “Titans” defense. One, the action sequences are pretty solid. Not great, mind you, but solid. If you like sword fights, giant monsters, and primal screams, this could be the movie for you. Worthington does an admirable job in exhibiting the looks, behaviors, and actions of an action star and the supporting cast don’t make fools of themselves in the action shots. Two, the dialogue isn’t atrocious. It’s not good, you understand, but it’s not teeth-grinding awful which is what I fully expected. There were only a couple of lines that made me wince and getting through a movie of this nature without really drawing attention to the dialogue is a good thing. Third, the movie doesn’t take itself seriously at all, which is a stroke of genius, considering the weak content.

Now I will say three things NOT in “Titans” defense. One, the “plot,” as noted, is just horrendous. The movie honestly feels like a video game in which you jump from one Level Boss to the next, only there’s really not any work to get to the next Boss. Two, the acting is predictably rough. While no single performance stands out among the rest as truly terrible, that’s more indicative of how mediocre the entire cast’s work is than anything else. I guess that’s not a huge surprise given that the majority of the cast is made up the type of actor you’d expect to get a mailed-in stinker from (even Liam Neeson is guilty of this). But Ralph Fiennes?! Ralph Fiennes?! Et tu, Brute?! I’ve always felt I could trust Fiennes but that trust is now in question. Three, the post production 3D installation was a huge disaster, and this has drawn my ire.

I get the appeal of 3D, I really do. It’s retro-new, it’s exciting, and it allows theaters to charge $5 extra to borrow their Buddy Holly glasses. If people are willing to pay for it, more power to you. My issue, however, is the hasty post production retro fitting that I fear we’re going to see a lot of in the next year or two. “Titans” was not shot in 3D, it was instead turned into a 3D film after the crazy success of “Avatar.” As a result, the print looks blurry and out of focus. Even the film’s director has thrown a fit regarding the 3D treatment. In truth, the shoddy nature of this feature just exemplifies the sloppiness that runs amok throughout the film’s mercifully short run time.

Now, all that’s not to say I didn’t have a good time. Childishness had come ‘a callin’ and darnit if I wasn’t going to have fun when Childishness was in charge. While I usually remain as quiet as possible in a crowded theater, I soon found I could not keep the Urge to Joke trapped inside for very long. After my nerds and I had cracked a couple of quiet jokes, the rows around us murmured their approval and before long the three of us had reinvented Mystery Science Theater 3000. The jokes were quick, easy, and plentiful. And really, given the less than serious tone “Titans” takes with itself, maybe that’s the whole point. Maybe that should even be the movie’s tagline: “Have fun! Make some jokes! Let Childishness take over for 83 minutes! Give us 10 bucks!” To that I say: “I accepted your invitation, “Titans.” In spite of your ridiculousness, I had some fun, I made some jokes, and I did let Childishness reign for 83 blessedly brief minutes. You may keep my ten dollars, but don’t push your luck looking for a good grade.”
Grade: C-.

Release the Kraken,

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.