Friday, April 16, 2010

The Joneses a Thought Provoking Satire

Have you ever heard the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses"? It's one of those sayings you hear said about someone else, usually because they own the most extravagant, expensive products on the market. They want to give off the idea that they are financially successful because they own things you don't. If there's a similar family living near them, it becomes a rivalry to see who can come out on top. Well, what if that family wasn't competing with you to be the best, but rather faking it to sell their clients' products?

The Joneses follows a family who does just that. The thing is, though, they aren't really a family. They are four separate employees who work within their age and gender to sell things fasionable to their crowd. There's Steve (David Duchovny), who spends the majority of his time golfing to sell sporting goods, Kate (Demi Moore), who talks up beauty products to her gal pals, Mick (Ben Hollingsworth), who does his best to sell video games and other toys to high school boys, and Jenn (Amber Heard), who, well, doesn't seem to do much at all.

She does, of course, but her character is so underdeveloped that you never really get a sense that she is doing anything other than exploring her promiscuity. If she's not crawling naked in bed with her unknowing "father," she's heading off to be the mistress to a married man on his private yacht. When things go wrong for her, you simply don't care.

But that's about as far as the negatives go in The Joneses. She may be benched for the majority of the movie, but that's because it spends most of its time with the other characters who are all dealing with their own issues. Mick isn't quite the person people think he is, Kate is job obsessed and won't allow herself to fall in love despite her obvious attraction to her fake husband and Steve is in inner turmoil over the falsity of his life. He pretends to be someone else to sell products, but in the process starts to lose his real self. He starts to want nothing more than to simply settle down and be with Kate in the real world rather than living behind this false fa├žade.

It's an interesting dynamic because they are not a family, yet they still fall apart like a real family would. They have their good times, they have their bad, and it seems like nothing will be able to save them.

Then you have the underlying themes of commercialization and consumerism that drive the meaning of the movie home. The Joneses embody the walking billboards of America. They embody every person out there who walks around with the latest Nike shoes or Gucci handbag. They embody the celebrities and athletes who wear a particular brand because they are promised money in return. They even embody the young middle school boy who shows off his brand new handheld video game system to get his friends jealous, all of whom eventually shell out the money for one of their own.

It may be a pretty outlandish concept to think that companies would pay good money for a fake family to live in a neighborhood simply to sell a handful of products to those people—that business philosophy would surely cost more than what they're taking in from it—but at the same time it gets you thinking. The Joneses neighbor is the perfect example of the American way of life in that he spends more than he can afford in order to keep up a false veil of stature amongst his peers. He, like many Americans, spends himself into debt and finds it difficult to crawl back out. The movie makes the case, in a fairly literal fashion, that our material objects are weighing us down. See the movie and you'll know exactly what I mean.

All of that is handled with style and assurance from first time writer and director Derrick Borte. His debut is a mighty one indeed and he tells this tale with a sense of authenticity, conveying drama perfectly while still interjecting some hearty laughs in the midst of things. This is a man who knows what he's doing and I expect great things from him in the future.

The Joneses is a film that will, sadly, go under the radar. Even I had no clue what it was before I sat down to watch it, but those who seek it out will find a sweet, funny, dramatic, meaningful and hard hitting story that will connect with everyone from the poorest of the poor to those so rich they blow their noses with 100 dollar bills. They may find different meanings, but that's the beauty of the film. There's so much here on the surface and under that many will walk out with conflicting analyses, yet none will be wrong. The Joneses is shaping up to be one of the best films of the year.

The Joneses receives 4.5/5

Death at a Funeral Remake a Poor Imitator of the Original

Rarely does a movie come along that is so funny you laugh until you can't breathe. The British 2007 comedy Death at a Funeral is one of those rarities. While a lot of British humor is hit and miss with American audiences, Death at a Funeral successfully bridged that gap and made itself accessible to everyone domestic and abroad. The remake can only wish to attain that status. It tries hard, but ultimately this Americanized Death at a Funeral feels like a shoddy rehash of the wonderful original.

The film stars Chris Rock as Aaron, the oldest son of his recently deceased father. Today is his burial day and the turnout is great. Everyone from his family, as well as many of his friends, have all shown up to give him a fond farewell. Among them are his brother Russell (Danny Glover), his author son Ryan (Martin Lawrence), his nephew (Columbus Short), his niece Elaine (Zoe Saldana) and her boyfriend Oscar (James Marsden). But thanks to some hallucinogenic drugs and a little person named Frank (Peter Dinklage), who claims to have had some, shall we say, uncouth rendezvous with him, his funeral is about to get a little more zany than the usual.

Death at a Funeral follows its British predecessor to the letter. The writer, Dean Craig, penned both scripts, though it really seems more like a copy and paste job than a whole new script in and of itself. This version follows the original, quite literally, scene by scene and rehashes the exact same jokes word for word. There are minor differences here and there, but by and large this is the same movie.

Which is to say the writing is brilliant. The absurd twists and turns both movies make are delightful and work despite their inherent goofiness. The writing takes a morbid subject and somehow wrings laughs out of a period normally set aside for grieving.

Or at least that's how the original worked. What this remake proves is how crucial comedic delivery is to a film. Despite using the same jokes that came from the same writer who more or less used the same script, this version of the film lacks laughs because the actors simply aren't up to the challenge. Rock is a poor replacement for Matthew Macfayden, who played his part in the original. Macfayden brought the character to life. He played him in a soft spoken kind of way. You could tell he was grieving over his father and in distress by the crazy events unfolding around him. All he wanted was to get the day over with and move on. Rock doesn't do that. You never sense that he, or any other attendee for that matter, is grieving in any way. He stands up there and does his usual schtick better suited for a stand-up routine, but never brings any depth to his character. Most actors fall into this category.

That is except for James Marsden. Playing the role Alan Tudyk knocked out of the park in the original, Marsden breaks from the monotony of the rest of the cast and switches his performance up. Rather than simply mimicking the cast of the original, he is allowed to roam free and be as goofy as he wants. Being the unfortunate victim of an accidental acid hit doesn't hurt of course, but nevertheless he plays his part wonderfully and produces the most laughs of anyone in the film.

But that doesn't change the fact that this is simply an inferior product to the original. Contrary to last week's Date Night, which had bad writing, but was saved by excellent performances from two hilarious leads, Death at a Funeral has terrific writing, but is hurt by poor performances from actors who don't know what to do with their characters. I wouldn't say I hated this Americanized remake, but why would I recommend it when I can simply point readers to the far superior original?

Death at a Funeral receives 2.5/5

Kick Ass a Solid, Jumbled Superhero Tale

Here we are. The movie that will have comic book lovers the world over joining in a collective nerdgasm. Kick Ass, the popular novel from the mind behind Wanted, is hitting the big screen and the geeks of the world are more eager to see it than a sex tape between Jessica Biel and Jessica Alba. I'm one of those geeks. After reading the comics it is based on (which a friend so graciously lent to me), I was hyped for the movie. The comic was amazing; well written, well drawn, violent, hilarious and fun. It was everything I wanted a comic book called Kick Ass to be. The movie, while still a rollicking good time, lacks the wit and style of its source material.

The movie follows Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), a mild mannered high school outcast. He and his friends, played by Clark Duke and Evan Peters, are comic book nerds. Like many similar to them, they dream of fighting crime in extravagant outfits, leaping from rooftop to rooftop in pursuit of an evildoer, standing up for justice and integrity in a world spiraling to hell. The difference is that Dave takes that to heart. He's sick of being a nobody. He's an outcast, a guy who can't get a girlfriend to save his life, much less his crush Katie (Lyndsy Fonseca), so he decides to strap on a scuba suit he buys online and attempt to make his city a better place through his new persona, Kick Ass. But this is the real world, not a comic book, and he soon finds himself lying in the middle of the road beaten, bloody and bruised with a knife wound to the stomach. After his recovery, and despite his better judgment, he returns to the streets where he meets Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz) and Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage), a father/daughter superhero team who have been working their ranks through the local mafia, eliminating them all in the hopes of eventually getting to the head honcho, Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong). In fear of these superheroes, Frank enlists the help of his son Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), a fellow comic book nerd, to disguise himself as a new hero, Red Mist, and lure the trio into a trap where he can finish them off once and for all.

I'm no comic book connoisseur, I admit. I couldn't tell you why one works and another one doesn't. I'm not aware of the inner workings that go into the construction of one of these tales. All I can tell you is how I perceive it and I loved the Kick Ass comic book. I couldn't put it down. I loved the gruesome violence, the spot on humor and the interesting narrative. I hoped for the movie to excite me in the same ways and it did, but not as consistently.

For what I assume are practical purposes, the violence isn't nearly as abundant, the humor is hit and miss and the interesting narrative from the comic is changed enough that it didn't hold the same appeal. I found more emotional connection between drawings on a page than I did the live action film.

Although some of the humor is forced, it can be funny, but that's why I didn't care. It doesn't do a good job of balancing its comedy with its more dramatic moments and when a major character bit the dust, I could only stare blankly at the screen wondering if I was supposed feel something. Consider the fact that jokes aren't only thrown in before and after this scene, but during it and you start to wonder why the filmmakers tried to create any drama at all.

Besides, it's called Kick Ass. Just as nobody watched Zombie Strippers for the choreography, nobody will watch Kick Ass for the drama. Luckily, the action scenes are top notch. They're wild, crazy, over the top and damn fun. Though toned down from the comic, this things gets bloody and watching an 11 year old girl do most of the killing makes things even crazier.

At times, the film gives off a Scream type of vibe by parodying the genre it is portraying. But whereas Scream was steady in its self-spoof, Kick Ass fluctuates. It's amusingly self-deprecating at first, but then drops that angle only to pick it up again later, and so on. It's smart at times, but it's not consistent and you'll quickly see how jumbled it can be.

But you know what? This is still a great time at the movies. Nicolas Cage gives his best performance in years and had me laughing all the way down to my toes, Chloe Moretz is brilliant as the adorable little girl that can put a bullet through your head before you even realize she's packing and its excessive nature is a welcome treat in a cinema world that is getting increasingly picked on by past generation curmudgeons who are intent on finding something they can complain about. Kick Ass looks at those people and flips them the bird, welcoming their hatred.

I like that.

Kick Ass receives 3.5/5

Friday, April 9, 2010

Carell and Fey Find Excitement in Date Night

What do you get when you combine the two hottest actors working on the two funniest sitcoms on television? You hope for the answer to that question to be more than a reluctant shrug, but here we are. Combining Steve Carell and Tina Fey should make for a hilarious and fun adventure, but the material in Date Night simply isn't there and doesn't accommodate their talents.

Carell and Fey play Phil and Claire Foster, a married couple who go about their humdrum lives repeating the same menial tasks daily. They spend their days at work and come home to two young children who occupy their lives at night. Their sex life is basically non-existent, though they try to keep things fresh by having a date night every so often. After they learn that their two best friends are going to get a divorce, they decide to make their next date night extra special and travel to New York for an evening at a fancy restaurant. However, they didn't call in a reservation beforehand and their chances of getting a table are slim. Fortunately for them, a couple by the name of Triplehorn hasn't shown up for their reservations, so the Fosters pretend to be them and take their table. What happens next is less fortunate. Two thugs show up claiming that they have stolen a prized possession from them and want it back. It's a case of mistaken identity and the Foster's find themselves in more trouble than they could imagine.

The premise of a couple seeking excitement only to run into more excitement than they bargained for is nothing new in the world of cinema. In fact, it's been played out by this point. Date Night is merely another blip on the radar of the tired subgenre, featuring mediocre writing and a ridiculous plot that nobody could take seriously. But the dream pair-up of Carell and Fey, two of the funniest people working in Hollywood today, do more than enough to salvage it. This movie works because of them. Without them, it fails.

Their chemistry together--romantic and comedic--is second to none. Their witty banter back and forth is a blast to listen to and they are capable of taking jokes that really aren't that funny and making them so. Considering how hilarious their two shows, The Office and 30 Rock, are, it's shocking how long it took someone to realize how perfect they would be together on the big screen.

Still, this movie is merely tolerable, far from what a movie starring the two should be. Where's the heart? Where's the emotion? Date Night tries to include some, but the outlandish situations the two find themselves in don't lend well to emotion. When you have Carell climbing onto the front of a speeding car and diving into another one, you start to get too far away from reality and the heartfelt conversations start to feel kind of pointless.

What else is there to say, really? Humor is subjective and opinions on the movie will surely be split. I'm not even completely sure how I feel about it. It's one of those rare films that I walked out of and didn't feel like discussing or analyzing. I only wanted to get home so I could write this and get it out of my mind. I'll revisit it one day just to spend more time with the charismatic actors, but the mediocrity of the movie may make it a long before that happens.

Date Night receives 2.5/5

The Runaways a Familiar Biopic

If you've ever seen a biopic about a musician, you know what to expect from The Runaways. Chronicling the rise and fall of the titular band, the film, like so many others, is a conventional biopic, down to the letter, but it's done well and the central performance from a rapidly growing Dakota Fanning keeps it fresh.

Many know of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, the punk rock band responsible for classics like "Bad Reputation" and "I Love Rock 'N Roll," but few know of Jett's first band that shot her to stardom, The Runaways. Popular overseas, but lacking in appeal here in the states, her band fell into the pitfalls many rock bands do: sex, drugs and rock 'n roll (not necessarily in that order). Kristen Stewart plays Jett who dreams of forming an all girl rock band. One day she meets record producer Kim Fowley, played by Michael Shannon, who loves the idea and helps her. For her, it's all about the music, but to him, it's the sex appeal. He claims that men don't want to see women playing guitar. They want to see them work their assets, so on his quest to find a good frontman (woman?), he stumbles upon Cherie Currie, played by Fanning. After playing a few low key shows, they land a record deal, but their excessive personalities soon lead to their downfall.

I'm a huge fan of Joan Jett. I love her music. I love her look. I love her don't-give-a-crap attitude. I've even seen her in concert. She may be over 50, but she can still rock a nightclub out of its senses. I walked into The Runaways expecting to learn more about her, including her career with the Blackhearts, but much to my surprise, the film is centered largely around Cherie. If I had done my research prior to my viewing, I would have known it is based off of Cherie's memoirs titled "Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway," so it instead explores her life and while it may not necessarily be the Joan Jett biopic I was hoping for, Cherie's life intertwines with hers and the accompanying story is interesting, if not familiar.

But familiarity is not the movie's problem. It may be derivative of other musician biopics, but that's simply the life these people lead. What really prevents it from reaching the status of recent biopics like Ray or Walk the Line is its over-the-top feeling. At times, the whole movie feels a little excessive, but nothing matches Shannon's terrible performance as the eccentric record producer. His exaggerated personification of this man brings the film to a hault. Every scene he is in, every line of dialogue he utters, every movement of his body reeks of bad acting. While I suppose we are to assume he is hopped up on drugs in every scene, the film never shows him taking any and regardless of whether or not the actual person acted this way, dramatically the character doesn't work and needed to be toned down.

The other performances, however, are fantastic, including Kristen Stewart, who gets a lot of flack for looking like she doesn't care in those silly Twilight films. She still looks like that here, but the difference is she's not supposed to care. She's rebellious. A rock 'n roll punk. Anti-establishment. Stewart's poor acting abilities actually benefited her in this role and she ably supported Fanning's wonderful grown-up performance, which was the crutch of the movie.

If I had to sum up The Runaways in one sentence, I would call it this: an understandably cognate, somewhat over-the-top biopic with a great soundtrack and mostly good peformances. It's little more than that. As far as these films go, I've seen better, but it's a solid movie that finally gives punk rock its dues. And as far as this head banger is concerned, that's a good thing.

The Runaways receives 3.5/5

Interview with Jeffrey Johnson, Star of Letters to God

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Letters to God star Jeffrey Johnson. Based on a true story, the film follows the life and death of a young boy battling with cancer who writes letters to God as his way of praying. Through his struggle, he unites the community and bonds with the local mailman, Brady, played by Johnson. As humble as can be, Johnson obliged me for as long as I needed and told me about his experience on the film. Letters to God opens today.

So Letters to God is based on a true story. How familiar were you with the real story before you received the script for the film?

Oh, I didn’t know anything about the real story. In fact, it’s funny, I knew so little about it that my manager called me up and said “Hey, listen I’m going to send you a script. I just wanted to make sure you’re cool doing a faith based movie.” What I heard was, “Hey I’m going to send you a script and I wanted to make sure you’re cool doing a space age movie.” I started reading it thinking it was going to be a science fiction thing and after a couple pages I thought, “Where are all the laser guns? Why aren’t we in space yet?” The story literally developed for me page after page so I knew nothing about it going into it.

So was it the fact that it was such an extraordinary true story that made you want to make it or were there other deciding factors?

Yes, it’s an extraordinary story, but I thought it was an extraordinary character too. I just really liked Brady. He’s a guy who’s done some pretty bad things in the past and you’d think by now he would have turned his act around and he hadn’t yet. That’s what was really interesting and it took meeting this inspirational, amazing child to really open his eyes to what life could really be about.

The writer of this movie, Patrick Doughtie, is actually the father of the real Tyler, right?

Yeah, this happened to his boy some years ago and it was this situation that he built the script around. My character didn’t actually exist. That’s something he just created as fiction, but there was very much his son Tyler who was writing letters to God as a way to pray and he more often than not wasn’t praying for himself. He was praying for his friends, his brothers, neighbors, just praying for everybody to give them strength.

I read that Patrick wrote himself out of the movie. As you mentioned, your character didn’t exist so he does fictionalize a little bit. How much does it deviate from the actual story? Do you know?

Well, like I said, my character’s relationship with Tyler is all fictional, but I think situation-wise there are a lot of things that were more or less the same. And I think certainly what the family was going through when they were dealing with the kid’s cancer, I think a lot of that hits pretty close to home.

So was it more or less the themes that were real rather than the dramatic moments?

No, I’m not sure about that. There were just some things he had created just to make it more of a movie like writing himself out and writing the postman in.

I know he also served as co-director. What was it like having him on set where he was basically watching you replay out the life and death of his kid?

It was incredible. It was unlike anything I had ever done before. There were so many times where he tried to put this experience out of his mind and all of a sudden for the sake of the film, he’s reliving these things over and over again. We had this one scene where Tyler’s at a soccer game and he has a seizure and we had to ask him, “What exactly happened? Did his head shake this way? Did he fall down that way?” He’s just reliving it and after a minute or so of doing it, the reality just sunk in and it just became such an emotional day for us all. I just have a lot of respect for him because he was willing to remind himself and explain all these things in this vivid detail. It was just a tremendous amount of bravery he brought to the set everyday and I really respect that.

I thought that was interesting too. I didn’t know he wrote it until after I watched it and I read through the Baptist Press that he actually struggled with his faith during the time that his kid was suffering. There's a scene where Tyler’s mother is questioning God and saying “I don’t agree with God’s plan.” Now, regardless of how strong a person’s convictions are, put in this situation, I imagine a lot of people would question their faith. Do you think that was him kind of speaking out and showing that he went through that moment in his life?

Obviously, I can’t speak for him, but I think you’re right on the money. I think there is a reason that those scenes ring so true to you and to the audience because they came from such a surreal place for him and I think people identify with that.

Well, I know you’ve also done a lot of work on television. I know this movie is kind of bittersweet. It’s not happy what happens to the kid, but at the same time it’s very uplifting. How different was the atmosphere on set for this as opposed to gritty crime dramas you’ve been on like CSI or Criminal Minds?

Well, films and TV share a similar style of acting, but on TV things are pretty rushed. It’s chop-chop, shoot and you don’t have as much time to really understand your character. So this movie was real to us during some of the emotional stuff and then when it was done, we all knew it was done and we could breathe a little bit easy. The first day of filming was this scene where my character had this breakdown in his apartment. That was a tough day to start a shoot. You know, welcome to day one.

Everyone I talk to seems to say the same thing, that they do the hardest scenes first, but I don’t know why.

I think people are just like “Let’s just go for it and get it out of the way so we don’t have to think about it too much.” Maybe they were saying, “Hey, maybe if he doesn’t get it on day one it will be a lot easier to fire him than it would be if we were a couple weeks into the shoot.” I hope that’s not the case, but you never know.

I have to ask you my stock question now. I ask everybody that has been on television and in movies this. Do you prefer the faster pace of television or the slower pace of film?

I think I prefer making movies because it’s really more like doing a play. You spend so much time with the character. They kind of keep you company, so every day you’re thinking, “What would he do? What would he listen to? What would he order for breakfast?” And I really like that whereas on TV you’re just in and out unless you’re a serious regular on a show and you don’t have much time to explore the character.

A few minutes ago you said your manager sent you the script and said “I hope you don’t mind doing a faith based movie.” Now, this movie comes from Possibility Pictures, a Christian production company. Did you have any reservations going into this film knowing that its audience could be limited?

No. That might be an interesting point, but it didn’t concern me at all and it certainly didn’t concern me when I met everyone and we started working together. The good thing about doing a film like is that everyone is just so onboard and everyone is so positive and eager to do the best they can. They started every day with a prayer meeting before safety call, which really sets the tone for a very loving, productive atmosphere. So no I didn’t. Maybe it might have been different if my character were a different kind of guy, but I just appreciated his struggle and his doubts and ultimately his outcome.

See, that’s the thing. The audience could be limited, but I think if people give the movie a shot, they’ll find it’s pretty accessible to everyone.

Oh absolutely. I was with the writer this afternoon and he was on the phone for over half an hour speaking with a reporter who’s Jewish and she was saying she can’t wait to spread the word as much as she can about this film because she wants people to understand that it speaks to everyone, not just one set or one branch of any kind of religion. I hope it’s universal. It speaks to so many people. It speaks to families dealing with it. It speaks to children dealing with it. It speaks to the friends. My character thought it was over. He thought he was never going to be able to live a life of peace. I think what I learned was that it’s never too late to turn things around.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Clash of the Titans an Unbridled 3D Mess

Something's wrong in Hollywood. It's called 3D. Now, before you naysay my statement, know this. I do not hate 3D. It has a place in film and, perhaps unfortunately, is the next evolutionary step in the future of filmmaking. However, with Avatar still going strong at the box office, Alice in Wonderland still climbing out of the rabbit hole and last week's How to Train Your Dragon enjoying its debut, the last thing we need is another 3D movie, yet here we are with the remake of the 1981 cheese-fest Clash of the Titans. Forget about what those big wig execs up in their ivory watchtowers want you to think. Clash proves that not every movie needs the extra dimension.

What separates this apart from those movies previously mentioned is simple. It was never meant to be in 3D. It was not filmed with that technology, like Avatar, or with the mindset for it to later be converted, as was the case with Alice in Wonderland. No, it was bumped up after the movie studio discovered just how profitable the format could be, considering the extra cost to see one in theaters. Thus, it looks horrid. Some scenes feel unfinished, certain visuals look blurry and at times, the characters seem misshapen with distorted heads and cut off body parts, as seen with the ear in multiple shots. Sometimes, I took my glasses off only to find much of it was barely converted, if at all. I watched whole scenes in crisp clear 2D without the glasses in a supposedly 3D movie. It's a nasty trick by the studio to force you into paying extra money with the notion that you're getting something more. Don't be fooled. You're not.

Regardless of how you're looking at it, you'll most likely wish you weren't at all. Clash of the Titans is an action bombshell, taking the genre and forcefully deflowering it with no regards to style or substance. It uses Greek mythology to prove itself as an epic, but it never does anything to warrant such a title.

Sam Worthington plays Perseus, son of Zeus, played by Liam Neeson. Zeus, a god, mated with a human in an act of revenge, who eventually gave birth to Perseus. Being half-human and half-god, a demi-god if you will, he is thrown into the thick of things when the battle between humans and the gods heats up. You see, the humans have betrayed the gods and Zeus is angry, so he joins with his brother Hades, ruler of the Underworld, played by Ralph Fiennes, to put them in their place. If the people of the city do not sacrifice the beautiful Andromeda, played by Alexa Davalos, a giant Kraken will come and destroy them. Perseus' mission is to figure out how to kill the Kraken and defeat the gods.

Essentially, it's a long winded journey to drably colored locales that all look exactly the same with the hopes of finding the information to take down the giant beast that ends in as boring a fashion as it possibly could. By the time Perseus finally gets to the much talked about Kraken, the creature merely waves his claws around, roars a few times and the movie ends. There's no battle, no showdown and, most importantly, no enjoyment to be had in any of it.

Perseus' journey is never fraught with peril or wonder. It gathers up the extensive history of Greek mythology, but has no fun with it. The PG rated Percy Jackson & the Olympians did more with its source material than this supposed grown-up tale of survival and sacrifice.

And that would be due to the script. This is a very badly written film, with unexplained plot occurrences and dialogue that would be better fit for a fun cornball picture. If you've seen the original film, you know it was a poorly conceived B-movie, yet irresistible in its campiness. This modern update doesn't even reach that status because it takes itself far too seriously.

Going hand in hand are the actors, who all seem half asleep in their performances. Liam Neeson, as established a star as he is, is boring as the god Zeus while Fiennes does little more than channel a less creepy version of Lord Voldemort from his roles in the Harry Potter films. Sam Worthington's banality may be the most egregious, however. He was great in Avatar and Terminator: Salvation despite their mediocrity where he proved himself as an up and coming action star. He was somebody to look out for, but he comes off as a second rate actor from a military commercial here. Sure, he looks strong and menacing, but his goofy way of talking in a loud whisper, not unlike Jack Bauer in 24, is laughable and makes his tough look moot.

Clash of the Titans is a disaster, joining the ranks of big budget travesties like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Land of the Lost. It's one of the worst movies of the year thus far and you should skip it, but if you must see it, take my heed and skip the 3D. Why pay extra when you'll walk out miserable either way?

Clash of the Titans receives 0.5/5