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April 11, 2010

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'Titans' a lame digital remake

WHO wants to be a god, anyway? That is the principle twist inserted into the new "Clash of the Titans," a remake of the sometimes fondly recalled, technologically dated 1981 film about the fury of the gods of Mount Olympus and the rise of the young, earthly demigod Perseus.

This time, Perseus (Sam Worthington, pictured right) is distasteful of his godlike nature: He just wants to be a regular dude and do normal guy stuff, like riding his winged horse Pegasus on the beach.

It is perhaps a fitting update of the film for an era marked by distrust for political leaders and Internet-empowered masses. Now, even the gods are spurned in their own movie: Deity is so out.

On Mount Olympus, that golden Round Table in the clouds, Zeus (Liam Neeson, in the part played by Laurence Olivier in the original) is angry at an ungrateful mankind and lets loose his brother Hades (Ralph Fiennes) to destroy the city of Argos.

As a new citizen of Argos, Perseus (the son of Zeus) does not like this much. He embarks on the familiar journey (particularly familiar for those who saw the recent, bouncier teen version "Percy Jackson & the Olympians") in defeating a number of mythical creatures, including a serpentine Medusa and the sea monster Kraken -- which, rest assured, is eventually released.

Directed by Louis Leterrier (2008's "The Incredible Hulk"), "The Clash of the Titans" probably will lure moviegoers chiefly by its digital effects (which are largely quite good but forgettable) and its promise of 3-D spectacle (which disappoints altogether).

Like several blockbusters being released now in the post-"Avatar" environment, "Clash of the Titans" was made in 2-D but converted to 3-D in post-production.

Audiences will hardly notice any increased depth. Though this is preferable to the distraction of most 3-D, it surely is not worth the increase in ticket price.

Worthington, the Australian actor who starred in "Avatar," knows a little something about 3-D. Here, he trades aqua blue-colored skin for an equally artificial bronze spray tan in the mold of "300" torsos.

Worthington was eclipsed largely by the surrounding effects of "Avatar;" it is an interesting irony that few would be able to name the star of the biggest box-office grosser of all-time.

In "Titans," his presence is more explicit but also less substantial.

With a crew cut atop his almost perfectly spherical head, Worthington grits his way through the film and does plenty of dramatic leaping while brandishing a sword.

But he doesn't supply the charisma that the movie needs and the whole thing feels like a joyless slog.

Fiennes' appearances provide a jolt. Arriving always with his head curiously fixed within a cloud of swirling black smog, he knows how to make an entrance. His part is surely the best in the movie, and he is clearly having fun.

He hisses in a horse whisper: "What could be more beautiful than death?"

But that is not nearly enough to engender the kind of fondness people feel for the original "Clash of the Titans," campy though it is.


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