MOVIE REVIEW: 'Clash of the Titans' remake left lying in ruins

Photo by Brian Giandelone

Photo by Brian Giandelone

Clash of the Titans (PG-13)

1 1/2 out of 4 stars

Riding high on the successes of "Terminator Salvation" and "Avatar," leading man Sam Worthington continues his march toward becoming the industry's top action hero in this remake of "Clash of the Titans." As it turns out, Worthington's march here is more of a slow-motion slog.

The 1981 original was so top heavy with schmaltz, kitsch and cheese you'd think any new take on it would be an improvement, yet in the hands of French director Louis Leterrier, this version is actually worse.

Having displayed a considerable level of action acumen with "Transporter 2" and "The Incredible Hulk," Leterrier nonetheless wastes every tool at his disposal and turns in what is an almost purposefully bad film and one that will likely become one of the great box office bombs of 2010. It also makes the almost identically themed turkey "Percy Jackson" look brilliant by comparison.

The first and most obvious of many letdowns is on a technical level. Filmed in traditional 2-D, the movie was upgraded (if that's the right word) in post production to 3-D. This was also done to "Alice in Wonderland" but because of that film's spectacular color palate, no one really noticed. For all but about 15 of its 108 minutes, "Clash" is awash in dull blues, grays, blacks and whites and even with the annoying 3-D glasses all of it looks flat and murky. If you must punish yourself by seeing it, save your money and go the 2-D route.

In addition to Worthington and a handful of superb supporting players, Leterrier was given the luxury of working with both Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes, two guys who can usually make even the silliest dialogue sound convincing. Of the two, Neeson (as Zeus) fares slightly better by turning in what is essentially a slight variation of his "Narnia" character. His voice booms but the content rings hollow.

Looking far too much like a hippie version of his Voldermort character from the "Harry Potter" franchise, Fiennes (as Hades) hisses and whisperers his lines while flailing about in black witch garb much like a coked-up '80s-era Stevie Nicks. In a career bursting with remarkable performances, it marks a rare and colossal misstep for Fiennes.

As for Worthington, he alternates between slight American, generic European and his own native Australian accent throughout. His character Perseus goes through roughly the same narrative arc as Russell Crowe in "Gladiator" — complete with two love interests — but even during the few relatively brisk action sequences, he looks complacent, bored and lacks the intensity and fire the character requires.

The plot? It's "Percy Jackson" with sandals and breast plates. Perseus is a demigod, the spawn of Zeus and a human mother who is raised by a fisherman's family. When some uppity bigwig military types get too big for their britches and start defacing statues of the now-offended gods, Perseus is unwillingly drafted into service in order to save the world.

Along with a band of eclectic, "Fellowship of the Rings" warriors, Perseus wastes a bunch of time on his way to the underground lair of Medusa (super model Natalia Vodianova) to retrieve her head for later use. This scene, which immediately precedes the climax, finally gives the film a noticeable pulse but it's far too little too late.

It all ends on a whimper along with the requisite, sequel-seeking ending, but with any luck, and your non-participation, it will be a sequel that will never see the light of day. (Warner Bros.)