April 2, 2010 at 1:00 am

Tom Long: 'Clash of the Titans' -- GRADE: D-

Review: 'Clash of the Titans' deserves wrath of Zeus

Tom Long reviews 'Clash of the Titans'
Tom Long reviews 'Clash of the Titans': Tom Long reviews 'Clash of the Titans'

Apparently the gods need better agents.

The 1981 sword-and-sandals mythology muck "Clash of the Titans" was absolutely awful, a smattering of Brit-prestige actors gumming out corny lines broken up occasionally by absurd action sequences that held a certain cheesy charm but which, in the end, looked ridiculous.

So, of course, Hollywood -- following the motto "No matter how bad it was, we can make it worse" -- chose to remake it.

And so here we have "Clash of the Titans" 2010, and Zeus, Hades, Poseidon and all the rest should be ashamed.

Again, there's that smattering of semi-prestigious actors (Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Pete Postlewaithe) and occasional surprises (Elizabeth McGovern!) somehow reduced to sounding as if they're in a mediocre high school play.

The action sequences, despite three decades worth of technological progress, manage to be just as ungainly as the originals, carrying no real thrills, just a lot of disconnected noise, in the way of so many post-"Transformers" aspiring blockbusters.

And here's the real kick -- it's in 3-D! Since America is going crazy for 3-D right now ("Avatar," "Alice in Wonderland," "How to Train Your Dragon") -- this will have to be a smash.

Imagine our heroes battling giant sand crabs in 3-D. It will be amazing!

No, it won't. Actually, the 3-D in "Clash of the Titans" is precisely what the movie industry should be worried about -- a low-quality carnival ruse, added after the film was completed, pretending to be something special so that a surcharge can be added to the price of a ticket.

Neither immersing nor shocking, it is instead mostly just a mild perspective shift and it certainly can't hide how awful the film is overall. This should be the film that teaches audiences all 3-D is not created equal.

Also not created equal is Perseus (Sam Worthington). The son of Zeus (Neeson) and a mortal woman, he is raised by a fisherman and his wife (Postlewaithe, McGovern) until they are wiped out by Hades (Fiennes) in a bit of boating butchery.

Soon after, Perseus discovers he is a demigod. And to save the city of Argos and take his revenge on Hades, he must slay a series of monsters, including those giant sand crabs, Medusa and some big bad monster waiting to come out of the sea.

All of this has something to do with humans wanting to be free of the gods' tyranny, and the gods feeding off human prayer and fear. Care has been taken to infuse much talk of this into the script and it is mind-numbingly dull.

Anyway, Perseus picks up a band of not-so-merry souls to help him in the hunt, as well as one eternity-living babe (Gemma Arterton). Together they march through the land of stiff dialogue and ho-hum action.

In terms of blame, let's start with director Louis Leterrier but not forget screenwriters Travis Beacham, Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi. But let's be kind and lay the rest at the feet of the gods.

This is the third special-effects blockbuster the previously unknown Worthington has headlined within a year, having played a robot ("Terminator Salvation") and a disabled soldier/giant blue Catman ("Avatar") previously and to far better effect. The best that can be said is he shares his embarrassment with good company here.

Fifteen minutes into this film you want to leave. Half an hour in you attempt to revel in the awfulness. Ten more minutes, though, and you want to leave again. That craving never subsides until you're out the door. "Clash of the Titans" is just about as bad as movies get.

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Jason Flemyng, left, plays Calibos and Ralph Fiennes is Hades in the 3-D wannabe blockbuster "Clash of the Titans." / Warner Bros.
Sam Worthington, of "Avatar" fame, plays Perseus in "Clash ... (Warner Bros.)