Monday, 5 April 2010

CLASH: VERDICT!

Just back from the cinema and here's my review of Clash of the Titans:

The kraken wakes.
The audience sleeps.



Quote:
"There is still a demi-god in Argos." *

* (Batteries not included)

12 comments:

Eudora said...

I love the old Clash, like Jason and the Argonauts, with all that craft and a great soundtrack.

Brian Sibley said...

You're right, EUDORA, and I should have known better!

Maxine said...

This is the best film review I've ever read. Brilliant!

(I saw the original btw, it was pretty rubbish I even thought then at whatever tender age I was)

Brian Sibley said...

Why, Thank you! :)

Good Dog said...

I had high hopes for this film. The original wasn’t exactly brilliant – I could have done without the damn owl but understood why it was included. A weekend or so back one of the channels screened Jason and the Argonauts and animation of the skeleton warriors brought to life from the teeth of the hydra is still utterly, utterly brilliant after all these years.

A while back on a project I had to interview Mr Harryhausen off camera and because of how he was seated and the space we had available to film I basically had to kneel in front of him. It seemed the appropriate place.

There have been a whole number of drafts of this remake floating around, many with revisions by Larry Kasdan, who I thought would have given it some oomph. A few of them read well but of course there are so many opportunities to stumble between the page and the screen. And I figured that one thing CGI would be good at – and should be used for – is creating mythical characters and beasts rather than buildings tumbling down and all the overblown disaster movie nonsense that has come our way of late.

What a shame. And a number of reviews mentioned that it was bumped to 3D after the filming so it was better to see it projected normally if possible. I’ll wait until it’s on after the Queen’s Speech.

As for the accidental humour of the Argos line, it reminded me of a press screening of Clear and Present Danger many years ago. After the second act rocket attack ambush on the DEA cars, when the bodies are flown back to Dover airbase Dvorak's Symphony No.9 plays on the soundtrack as the flag-draped coffins are carried off. We were desperately trying to stifle a laugh when someone muttered, “By gum lad, they’re brown bread!”

Brian Sibley said...

The first hour-plus was, I thought, dire. Mt Olympus was dull beyond belief, the gods totally characterless except for Neeson who was certainly no Zeus and Fiennes who was just a hairy version of Voldemort.

The scorpions looked more unreal than anything ever done in the worst stop-motion and there was a general lack of monstery stuff up front where it was needed to kick-start the excitement.

Credit where credit's due, the Pegasus scenes were good and the whole thing eventually picked up a bit with Medusa and the kraken, but by then the film was running hell-bent towards the end with a total disregard for character, motivation and plot and I'd long since stopped giving a damn.

To make matters worse, the bolted-on 3D was pretty ineffectual (more a distraction than an embellishment) and the ghastly colour-grading made the whole film looked grey and grungy.

Maybe it would have looked better in 2D, but somehow I doubt it...

Andy J. Latham said...

Interesting to read Good Dog's comment that CG should be good at creating creatures. The thing is that time and time again we discover that it is less suited to the task that media that have gone before it. Special effects teams seem slow to learn that it is as much about what you don't see than what you do. The imagination is capable of far more than any special effect can show us.

I read a book once called "Story" by Rob McKee which pointed out to me that working within limits sparks far more creative thinking than if the world is the film maker's oyster. What kind of a film would Jaws have been if the rubber shark had actually worked and Spielberg was able to get all the shots he wanted? My bet is that it would be much poorer.

Look at Cloverfield - a recent monster movie. Now I don't know if it was creative choice or budget limits but they showed great restraint in not showing much of the monster. It is a fantastic film for that reason as much as any other.

CG has come to the film world promising headache-free productions. You can show anything with it. The question is....should you?

Brian Sibley said...

I certainly agree about Cloverfield: I wish we'd see as little of the scorpions in Clash as we did of the aliens in that film...

Good Dog said...

Andy,

You’re absolutely right. But then given my hatred of overblown CGI, I wouldn’t want them to go mad on screen.

The thing about CGI – which you pick up on – is that every director, producer, CG animator and the like should be locked in a big room with white walls. On one wall are the words SHOW RESTRAINT. They only get let out when they finally get it. (Which would of course mean that James Cameron would starve to death and die in the room along with Roland Emmerich).

We all have imaginations. I’d say that our imaginations are better than theirs, simply because we’re interested in the story and they want to make a big pile of money.

Before the insomnia I was scribbling notes about directors who made really inventive films until CGI came along and it all went to hell. Stand up and take a bow, Tim Burton! Rather than witter on for ages here and go way past the character limit, I think I better save it for my own post.

Brian Sibley said...

The power of understatement has long been lost - probably pretty much for good now.

I was reminded, reading your mini-rantette, of Robert Wise's 1963 film The Haunting (based on Shirley Jackson's novel The Haunting of Hill House) where 'terror' is conveyed through what is imagined - by the characters and the audience - rather than by what is shown through sfx.

While James and Roland starve to death in your torture cell they should be allowed one screening of Wise's The Haunting followed by a continuous showing of the unsubtle, effects-laden re-cooked turkey with the same name served up in 1999!

James said...

There's more than one way to 'release the Kraken!'

http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/21f0a81536/release-the-kraken?rel=player

Brian Sibley said...

Oh, JAMES, if only the rest of the film had been that funny...