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'Clash of the Titans' a cheesy diversion

by Tyler Wilson
| April 9, 2010 9:00 PM

The new 'Clash of the Titans' gleefully recreates the cheesiest and best elements of the 1981 original film about bickering Gods and giant monsters. And, thank goodness, the goofy mechanical owl only appears in a single, brief scene.

Directed by Louis Leterrier ("The Incredible Hulk"), "Titans" is one of those rare guilty pleasures: A trashy movie that often succeeds in spite of itself. It powers through a thin storyline and a stiff performance from 'Avatar' star Sam Worthington, but at least Leterrier seems to be aware of the film's obvious shortcomings.

Despite a few changes here and there, the new "Titans" follows the same basic plot of the original. Perseus (Worthington), mortal son of Zeus, enters a quest to save a kingdom from the Gods' horrific hit-beast: The tentacled behemoth known as the Krakken (now even bigger and uglier than the one in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest").

Up at Olympus, Bigshot-God Zeus (Liam Neeson) is conflicted by his relationship with mankind. Although he requires human worship and love to maintain his strength, he must also punish those who turn against him. Clouding the issue is Zeus' brother Hades (Ralph Fiennes, in full Lord Voldemort mode), the God of the underworld who wants to use the Krakken to destroy humankind and take over Zeus' top spot in Olympus.

Not that any of this really matters. After a few minutes of Neeson and Fiennes frowning at each other, the film sends Perseus on a mission to avenge the divine murder of his adoptive mortal parents. He has just a few days to learn the secret of defeating the Krakken. Hint: It requires a showdown with snake-haired Medusa.

"Titans" isn't too concerned with thoughtful storytelling. It moves from one overblown action sequence to the next, using campy dialogue and wooden performances as the string keeping it all together. When the characters get chatty, "Titans" is a colossal bore. Worthington especially can't bring much gravitas to his underdeveloped role. He most certainly isn't Russell Crowe in "Gladiator."

But when the monsters are unleashed, "Titans" becomes a ridiculous B-movie spectacle. The actors bark laughable commands at each other, and the computer-generated special effects often pay homage to the stop-motion animation of the Ray Harryhousen days. The film's best sequence is an intense battle between Perseus and a batch of giant scorpions.

If only the entire film could be on the same goofy wavelength. It's always nice to see Neeson and Fiennes onscreen, but most of the Olympus scenes lack purpose. None of it really matters until Zeus bellows, "Release the Krakken!"

"Clash of the Titans" is available in 3-D, but audiences should save money and opt for the 2-D presentation. The film was shot in 2-D and the studio decided to convert the footage to 3-D after the movie was finished. It simply won't look as good as "Avatar," folks.

In 2-D, however, it at least matches the entertainment value of the original.

Grade: B-

Ticket Stubs is sponsored by the Hayden Cinema Six Theater. Read more movie reviews and commentaries at www.NormdogEntertainment.com. Tyler Wilson can be reached at twilson@cdapress.com.

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