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Clumsy Titans - bad acting and special effects 'suck'
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Clumsy Titans - bad acting and special effects 'suck'

by Scott Rice - SGN Contributing Writer

Clash of the Titans
Opening April 2


I'm a big fan of Ray Harryhousen, the special effects guru best known for his amazing claymation work in the '50s and '60s. As a kid, I remember watching Jason and the Argonauts and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad on Sunday afternoons at my grandparents' house (they had cable).

I was totally enthralled by the monsters and the heroes who battled them. Those images sparked my young imagination, triggering hours of energetic fantasizing and role-play.

Fast-forward to 1981. I'm in the middle of the hormone storm known as puberty, and what should gallop into movie theaters? Bare-chested, mop-topped, loin-clothed Harry Hamlin astride a black stallion, that's what.

Though I still loved Harryhousen's special effects in the '81 version of Clash of the Titans, it was Hamlin's half-naked take on Perseus, the most heroic of Greek heroes, that sparked my imagination this time around. There was still plenty of fantasizing and role-play, but with a slightly different focus.

This is why I was totally jazzed about a brand new Clash of the Titans, a 21st-century version of a very old Greek tale complete with cutting-edge animation, 3D effects, beautiful young stars, and a bevy of Hollywood A-listers adding copious cachet to the whole affair. What could go wrong?

Unfortunately, everything.

Hamlin's Perseus was dark, elegant, and lusty. Sam Worthington's Perseus reads more like an Aussie jarhead. He was fine as a seven-foot blue Pandoran in Avatar, but I like my demigods a bit more elegant. Also, Worthington doesn't seem to know what type of flick he's in. One minute he's in an old-school costume drama, and the next he's wisecracking like Han Solo.

The other actors seem lost, too. Liam Neeson (Zeus) and Ralph Fiennes (Hades) sport acting styles better suited to The 7th Voyage of Sinbad than a 21st-century FX action fest. Nicholas Hoult, who shined so brightly in the Brit TV series Skins and stole scenes from Colin Firth in A Single Man, looks utterly befuddled during his screen time. Gemma Arterton (Io), best known as a Bond girl in Quantum of Solace, is the only actor that seems comfy in her role, and she looks the part, too.

I think the acting problem is a case of Lucas Syndrome (I discovered and named this particular disease myself). Lucas Syndrome is an affliction of otherwise excellent actors which causes them to turn in terrible performances. Its cause is poor acting advice by a hapless and often overrated director (in this case, Louis Leterrier). FYI, Lucas Syndrome is named after George Lucas, who seems to be able to drag the absolute worst performances out of the best actors every time.

I also miss the pretty Greek pantheon. Leterrier's clumsy re-envisioning of Zeus and Hades leaves them looking a lot like the Christian version of God and the fallen angel Lucifer. The rest of the Greek gods are subordinates to the omniscient Zeus, which whittles away at the opportunity for the drama and intrigue that makes the classical myths so much fun.

And why does Zeus have to turn into an all-American bald eagle when he swoops down to earth? The entire mess reeks of cultural imperialism. It's no wonder they burn McDonalds restaurants in France.

I've been writing for the SGN for nearly two years, and I've never used the word "sucks" in a film review. Here I go: The special effects suck. We, in 2010, are spoiled, spoiled cineastes. Technology allows all manner of stories to be told and images created that wouldn't have been thought possible a scant 20 years ago. But spoiled or not, I expect more from a big-budget remake of an iconic film about classic Greek mythology.

The monsters look fake, the water flows off the Kraken all wrong, Argos looks like a bad painting, and Pegasus flies like he's constipated. It's 2010; go find a nerdy college freshman with a Mac Pro and some time on his hands and let him give you some FX tips.

The 3D is an utter failure. The actors look like they have two heads half the time and the other half just made me queasy. If you must see Clash of the Titans, save a couple of bucks and see it in 2D. Better yet, the 1981 version is an instant play on Netflix. Grab your lover, a nice bottle of vino, and watch Harry Hamlin prance around in the comfort of your own home.

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