Release the Kraken, but leave that owl behind!
Going Rate: Worth matinee price. 3D adds little.
Starring: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes
Red Flags: Greek Mythological Violence, mostly bloodless but still gross at times
I never saw the original Clash Of The Titans all the way through-- wait, I just dug it up on YouTube. All right. Please forgive a rushed analysis, but the opening moments of both films make it clear they measure up to each other in the same way There Will Be Blood compares to an old episode of Dallas. The original is low-tech and full of elevated cheese, but it's in love with its cheese. Expect a lot of die-hard fans of the original to cling to it for that reason, or because it's a classic 1980's movie that reminds us more of our youth than anything we learned during the mythology unit of literature class.
The new Titans is darker and digital, the two qualifying factors for a remake nowadays. On its own merits, it's economical and action packed. Perseus (Worthington) is a demigod on a mission, caught in the middle of a showdown between the two toughest guys on Mt. Olympus: Zeus (Neeson) and Hades (Fiennes). The people of Argos are rebelling against the gods, and Hades wants to punish them as part of a scheme to overthrow Zeus. His lethal weapon is the dreaded Kraken, a monster so big and so deadly we don't see it until late in the picture -- instead of the first ten minutes, as in the original. Nothing can kill it, save for one thing, which Perseus needs to find out from three blind witches who share a single eye. Getting to them is a quest in itself, but it helps when you're a demigod, even if you don't have a mechanical owl to help you in this version. ("Bubo," by the way, gets a cameo and a backhanded tribute during the film.)
Although I realize I'm dealing with mythology here, Titans also presents a few grains of theological truth: sin does indeed have consequences, turning away from GOD comes with a price, and GOD did not simply create the world and step back from it. We are also in the middle of a spiritual battle between good and evil, one that's been going on much longer than any two-hour action flick. Those are about the only things that translate from mythology to Christianity, although I'm sure somebody's seeing this film and debating whether GOD needs us around to make HIM stronger, or whether love makes us weak. A few existential inquiries and secular humanist points are bound to come up somewhere along the lines. Just throw out that extra nonsense and remember you're dealing with Greek myths.
But what you really want to know is whether it's a good movie or not. Yes, it is. It's not a good primer on classical mythology, but it is a good fantasy actioner. It's got beefcake and swordplay and Greeks speaking with British accents. It's got ugly beasts and beautiful ladies wearing tunics. But it doesn't have the cheese factor.
The film's release date was pushed back a little to accommodate an up-convert to 3D, Hollywood's new cash cow, but the third dimension adds little except during the opening scenes tracing a gut-twisting flight. Be assured these rush jobs aren't about enhancing the cinematic experience as much as bulking up the studios' bottom lines with the realization they can provide something not yet available on DVD.