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The other day one of my Plurk contacts posted a link to the latest trailer for the upcoming Clash of the Titans remake along with some commentary.

First off, do people even realize this upcoming film is a remake?

Secondly, why did they approach this project as a remake? Yeah, the title is pretty catchy, but mythology is kind of fair game for anybody, seeing as how the copyright pretty much expired FIVE-THOUSAND YEARS AGO, so it's not really necessary to remake an older film to tell a story from mythology, is it? I mean, why not simply retell a story from mythology under a new title?

But those aren't really the reasons the comments left me feeling sort of lost. What bothers me, I guess "bothers" is the right word, is the way a number of people were cheering about the effects shot of the kraken, a huge, squid-like sea monster.

I watched the trailer, and I re-watched the brief kraken shots a few times. From the first viewing, my initial impression was nothing like "whoa!" or "wow!" or "awesome!" or "cool!" Rather, the first thought which flashed to my mind was, "hand puppet." Specifically, "hand puppet EXACTLY like the one in the "birth scene" at the end of the movie Humanoids From the Deep.

I haven't seen Humanoids since the original theatrical release, so I combed the great cesspool of online video clips, YouTube, for that sequence. I was only able to find a couple of low-grade versions, but they were sufficiently detailed to confirm my initial impression. The kraken hand-puppet in the new Clash of the Titans is almost identical to the baby humanoid hand-puppet in Humanoids From the Deep. The kraken has a whole gob of fake-looking digital tentacles waving around behind it, is all.

I think people spend so much time playing video games that "digital" is their version of reality. Totally fake is completely acceptable as "awesome."

That's okay. It just doesn't do much for me. I guess I saw enough of the "totally fake" a decade (or three) ago, so I'm not as easily impressed anymore. Teetering as I am on the precipice of codgerhood, I can't help but think that the old version of fake was equally or more convincing than the new, digitally enhanced version of fake.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 18th, 2009 07:31 am (UTC)
Did the effects in the original Clash of the Titans bother you as much? How about in the original The Terminator? (I'm just trying to get a feel for your puppet, digital effect and stop-motion tolerance.)

I'll admit to having been creeped out by the sleestak, and thoroughly enjoying Dead Alive. These were shows that did not feature state-of-the-art effects.
Dec. 18th, 2009 09:47 am (UTC)
I was so underwhelmed by most of the effects in the original Clash of the Titans that for years I referred to the film as Trash Like the Titans. As I recall, the gods of Olympus were particularly poorly done.

From what I can remember, the effects in the original Terminator were so seamlessly integrated into the film as a whole as to be "invisible"; that is, the effects did not draw attention to themselves as "effects."

The whole mood of the original Land of the Lost was spooky, to the point where it didn't matter that the sleestak looked like guys in suits or the dinosaurs looked like models with obvious chroma-key lines around them. The original actor playing the dad was so earnest in his role that no effort was required to "suspend disbelief." It just happened.

Perhaps the new Clash of the Titans film will have sufficiently compelling performances to create the same automatic suspension of disbelief. Maybe I'd be less critical of the scenes I'm seeing in the trailer were I to see them in the context of the entire film. I suppose a lot of how I'd respond would depend on my mood when I see the film.

Hey, I actually managed to enjoy Transformers II, by going in with a pocket full of Three Musketeers bars and looking forward to getting wired up on sugar and watching things explode. I wasn't expecting "realism," and as I've noted elsewhere, the strategically timed sequences of a sweat-beaded Megan Fox running in slow-motion helped me refocus when my attention began to drift. My only disappointment with that movie was that it wasn't as "bad" as I'd been led to expect. But, I was not expecting "realism" from the effects. It was bright and lotsa stuff blew up, but there was nothing that made me think, "ooh, awesome!" Other than Megan Fox running in slow-mo, maybe.

I'm basically saying, regarding the new Clash, that the addition of digital enhancement isn't making the effects look all that much better to me. Comparing the Clash trailer kraken snippet to Humanoids from the Deep, I'd say the Humanoids scene was more believable... and way freakin' creepier!

One of my personal "gold standards" for visual effects in movies is a sequence in a 1957 sf film, 20 Million Miles to Earth, in which a lizard-like creature from Venus fights with an elephant. When I saw that scene as a kid on TV, I couldn't figure out how they did it. Later, I became aware of some of the telltale signs of effects work. Still, I feel the scene holds up well as a sequence which is obviously "fabricated," yet is realistic enough to be believable within the context of the film without undue effort on my part as a viewer. As in Terminator, good effects meld effortlessly into the film. The viewer's first response should be "monster," not "cool effect" or "nice puppet." When I saw the Clash trailer, my mind said Humanoids from the Deep.

Sometimes I think that having seen too many films in the past can negatively impact the enjoyment of seeing new films.

So... did anyone notice the "Odessa steps sequence" reference in the trendily popular Ataque de Pánico YouTube short? (I thought most of those effects were pretty good, by the way. The machines have mass, as do most of the falling buildings; and I like the way the robots splash when they walk across the river.)

Edited at 2009-12-18 09:49 am (UTC)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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