Clash of the Titans released theatrically at a time that was both good and bad, ironically for the same reason. Clash’s timing was good in the sense that everyone and their cousin was still riding the post-Avatar high, and since the main character in both films was played by the same man (Sam Worthington), the box-office draw was inevitable. However, because comparisons were bound to be made to Avatar — justified or not — Clash of the Titans faced an uphill battle to live up to its own billing, particularly since Clash was released in 3D.
Yet while Avatar was filmed with the expressed purpose of being shown in 3D, Clash was not, which actually worked against the film. The 3D effects were not “tacked on,” but certain scenes just felt ineffective in the theater. Warner Bros. is now releasing Clash of the Titans on 3D Blu-ray, giving home viewers a chance to watch the film in 3D without the “distraction” of other 3D movies’ mindshare. The irony, though, is that Clash of the Titans on 3D Blu-ray still seems to be a mixed bag.
Because Clash of the Titans wasn’t originally planned for a 3D release, many of the camera angles and edits didn’t have 3D effects in mind, and that’s not something a 3D Blu-ray can fix. None of the scenes is flat by any means, but there wasn’t as much attention paid to specifically setting up the foreground and background, so the 3D effects are largely understated. In addition, many scenes have been edited with surprisingly fast cuts, which is something you expect from an action film but doesn’t let you “absorb” all three dimensions because the camera’s moving too quickly. In addition, some scenes are so reliant on CG that the 3D actually works against them, almost like watching an old movie where the blue screen is obvious. This presents a particular problem on the 3D Blu-ray version of Clash of the Titans, because while the scenes look fine on the 2D Blu-ray version, the inclusion of that third dimension really drives home the fact that the actors and CG characters didn’t exist in the same 3D space.
With a film that makes so much use of CG, you may be tempted to write this one off completely. Don’t. Many scenes work extremely well, such as the scorpion scenes, which also make such excellent use of the rear surround channels that the scene really creates a sense of 3D space. In fact, when the final scorpion breaks through some stone columns and sends debris flying, the 3D effect is second to none when compared to the 3D Blu-rays we’ve reviewed so far.
What I found most interesting with Clash of the Titans’ 3D Blu-ray is that some scenes actually look better when paused than they do when watched in real-time, something I attribute to the aforementioned fast edits. For example, after the Legion army defeats the scorpions, the camera switches to hungry children reaching for food in the streets of Argos. Watching this scene of starvation does nothing for the 3D senses, but if you pause the movie to view an individual frame of the little girls reaching for food, you’re presented with some of the film’s most impactful 3D effects. Had I not thought to pause the movie at that point, I could’ve easily dismissed this scene as not having any 3D effects at all. But the depth of field and mix of foreground/background imagery just pops through the active-shutter glasses — once the movie’s paused. Normally, pausing a movie is something you do for bathroom breaks or to get another bag of popcorn. In Clash of the Titans, at least in this scene, it’s something you need to do. The sense of depth is just so effective that you need to experience it for yourself, even in this unorthodox way.
The scene with Medusa is an interesting mix of good and marginal 3D effects. On the one hand, the action isn’t cut as quickly, so you can really appreciate the 3D effects when Perseus and his cohorts are jumping from rock to rock and through fallen pillars. On the other hand, Medusa herself doesn’t feel quite as dimensional, even during those instances where she’s slithering her way through rubble and holes. The Medusa character has nice depth, but her place and “fit” within the scene doesn’t quite pop as well as the men’s positions, perhaps due to the odd CG/3D issues mentioned above.
Not all CG scenes are a lost 3D cause, though. When Hades releases the Kraken, the 3D effects are great as you see the tentacles dash through the water for the first time. The Kraken’s tentacles move past the camera quickly, heading like a bullet toward the surface of the ocean, and they look as if you could reach out and touch them. Although subtle, the 3D effect is phenomenal. Another CG-heavy scene, when Perseus flies through Argos on the Pegasus, presents some great 3D effects throughout his “trench run.” The camera does move a bit quickly in this scene, which makes it a bit challenging to take it all in on the first viewing, but the 3D effects are sufficient to make anyone prone to motion sickness reach for the barf bag. In a good way.
The bonus features on Clash of the Titans 3D are all contained on the standard Blu-ray Disc (also included in the box), with the 3D version of the film being the only thing contained on that third disc. This means that Warner Bros. didn’t have to reproduce a bunch of new Blu-ray Discs or DVD/Digital Copy combos for this release, the studio simply had to update the interior to accommodate a three-disc setup and then insert one new disc into the mix.
Warner’s release of Clash of the Titans 3D Blu-ray is a comprehensive three-disc set, with the bonus features and 2D movie on a separate Blu-ray Disc, then a DVD and Digital Copy on the third. As such, the bonus features on the 3D Blu-ray are all identical to the ones released in July. Although they’re all presented in high definition, they’re also all in 2D. WB Maximum Movie Mode is a picture-in-picture mode that activates automatically with commentary, production artwork, interviews and behind-the-scenes footage of varying lengths depending on the scene at hands. All told, there are about 40 minutes of PIP content. This is not the way to watch the movie for the first time, as some of these sequences’ pictures-in-picture actually overlap the movie frame completely. But, it’s definitely a unique way to bring cohesion to dozens of miniature making-of featurettes and present them in a way that doesn’t seem out of place or jarring if they’d been edited into a stand-alone bonus feature.
The movie’s Deleted Scenes are more substantial the most films’, with just over 18 minutes of deleted and extended scenes. However, it’s really the Alternate Ending (5:23) that’s bound to get people’s attention. Not only does Perseus reach first base with the princess-turned-queen of Argos, but he also confronts Zeus on Olympus. This ending was changed-up for multiple reasons I’m sure, not the least of which were the tonal change of a different love interest and the “hello sequel” conversation with Zeus, but it’s clear that the real ending was decided upon early, because this alternate ending still relies heavily on placeholder effects, blocky CG and wireframes.
Last among the bonus features is a 35-minute compilation called Focus Points, which covers such elements as casting the film’s key roles, scouting locations and a variety of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews that didn’t make the Maximum Movie Mode track.
But really, the 3D version of Clash of the Titans is what this new release is all about, not the bonus features, and it performs admirably in that regard. As with the theatrical release, there are going to be some complaints about minimal 3D effects, but the lack of 3D is not the real issue. Quite the contrary, a few scenes look absolutely incredible, and if you pause the action you’ll see the depth in every scene, albeit at the expense of the film’s flow. The real issue with this 3D Blu-ray isn’t the 3D itself, but how Clash of the Titans was filmed and edited. The 3D effects are solid; they just often become victims of fast edits and even faster camera movements. In a sense, if you’ll pardon the pun, the 3D and editing just “clash.”
Click here to buy the three-disc 3D set from Amazon.com: Clash of the Titans (Blu-ray 3D / Blu-ray / DVD / Digital Copy).
- Score: 8
- The 3D effects are good, but they’re unfortunately “hidden” a lot of the time by quick cuts and speedy camera movements. Consequently, the overall 3D presentation suffers a bit.
— Jonas Allen