Other than 3-D, 'Titans' a muddled remake
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures, Sam Worthington stars as Perseus in "Clash of the Titans." Jay Maidment

'Clash of the Titans'

Rated: PG-13. Running time: 1 hour, 58 minutes. 1.5 stars.

When the original "Clash of the Titans" was released in 1981, the magical — though hokey — epic about mankind's battle against the gods captivated middle school-aged boys across America. What preteen with a fake sword wouldn't relate to Perseus, the demigod son of Zeus, who leads the battle on behalf of mankind and must defeat the most terrifying beast ever created — the Kraken?

Well, those boys are all grown up now and, for them, the 2010 remake of "Clash of the Titans" will probably be a memorable event to relive or share with their own children. But if you fall outside of this demographic, then you are better off with a Blu-ray edition of the "Lord of the Rings."

Not that "Clash of the Titans" couldn't stand a retelling that would appeal to adults as well as adolescents. The story has plenty of thematic meat to chew on — from man's relationship to God (or gods, in this case), lineage and loyalty, or just good old-fashioned good vs. evil stuff.

But director Louis Leterrier chooses to tackle these themes with very broad strokes and instead relies on showy, over-the-top effects to dazzle us. Unfortunately, the film's upgrade to 3-D, combined with its poorly choreographed battles scenes, result in too many sequences that are chaotic, dizzying and just plain hard to follow.

Even if the film had pulled off its battle scenes, there needs to be something worthwhile between them if you want a film that will stand the test of time. But this remake is much closer to its corny original than an instant "Lord of the Rings"-style classic.

Instead of using the breaks in action to engage us with the characters, we get a lot of contrived dialogue, empty speechmaking, misplaced attempts at humor, and cardboard cutout characters to string the action sequences together. There's only a certain crowd that's going to genuinely buy into that — and they'll probably outgrow it in a few years, too.

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