Clash of the Titans Blu-ray Review
'Clash of the Titans' is presented in widescreen 2.35:1 with VC-1 coding.
For such a new Blu-ray release, the high definition transfer looks very good indeed. Following its limited cinematic 3D release, many recommended to view this movie in 2D where possible, such was the poor quality of the latest cinematic obsession, especially when compared to the pioneering 'Avatar'. On Blu-ray, I believe that we have the best possible rendition of this movie and at times it's stunning.
The majority of the characters have a very solid and almost tangible presence, with plenty of detail in the mid range , such as the minute shimmering particles of divinity which fill the air in Zeus's mountainous abode. Some of the long shots lose some detail and appear soft but this is a factor of the copious CGI post production which was employed to create many of the scenes. While these are sometimes weak in comparison to the traditional shot portions, this is not a fault of the transfer and so no points will be deducted. Clothing details is sumptuous and serves to really highlight the richly adorned robes of the rulers or Argos and the intricate detail of the various warriors' armour and weaponry. Facial close-ups exude a huge amount of detail, such as the well lined face of an aging Pete Postlethwaite. The faces of the woody Gin also exposure very fine detail and glowing blue hues. It's even possible to see dirt under the fingernails of Perseus in some of the scenes. The cinematography is sweeping and epic, creating wonderful panoramic vistas. The long shots of the CGI generated Mount Olympus and Argos are impeccable and are meticulously recreated with plenty of fine detail on show.
The colour palette can seem a little subdued at times and is never really stunningly vibrant. Some of the outdoor portions in the forests of Greece provide some lush greenery but the palette never really shines and is content to lie in the realm of believability, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Shadow detail is impeccable during the opening lightning storm scenes at sea and the darkened aura of Hades engulfs zero detail. The same can be said for the lair of Acrisius. The contrast ratio is very strong, producing some very solid blacks. While this aspect of the presentation does appear to dwindle ever so slightly as the plot progresses, it's none the less more than adequate. Whites can also dazzle with their cleanliness, such as on the armour of Zeus.
As a whole I have to say that I was impressed with his transfer and although it can appear a little over processed at times, it's crisp, clear and well defined for the majority. While there are a few scenes (which are isolated to the CGI portions) that appear to suffer from marginal softness and lack of focus (this is, however, not a fault of the transfer), the overall presentation is very solid and earns a very high eight rating.
'Clash of the Titans' comes packed with a 5.1 dts HD Master Audio surround track.
As the opening credits rolls, it's clear that this track is going to be a whopper. Stereo reproduction is excellent, with effects such as the ringing sound of swords cutting through the rest of the effects with clarity. Steerage is also spot on, with trundling Scorpiochs, harpies and Pegasus moving from right to left sound field with ease. The all important vocals are always crystal clear and never overwhelmed by the bombastic nature of some of the action based portions (although this is not always necessarily a good thing!).
The surrounds are used to great effect during the battle sequences, such as during the scenes involving Hades's harpies, who rotate around and behind the listening position. The same can be said for Hades himself, whose fiery presence emanates from all available channels (and his voice has a wonderful echo effect). Medusa also can be heard slithering around the room, laughing eerily (although this did sound a little fake to this reviewer). There are ambient effects included for atmosphere but these are low in the mix when compared the action based portions (such as the very impressive sounding Scorpioch encounter).
The subwoofer gets a fine workout for the duration of the run time. In Mount Olympus, every second is underpinned by a bass driven vibration of Godly power and Pegaus's wings create a nice “whumph” effect. During the many combat scenes all of the impacts are granted significant weight by the woofers presence. The highlight of the track is the epic showdown with the Kraken, which really is demo worthy material that can be heard rather than felt, as the surrounds pour out thousands of gallons of displaced seawater.
The score is sweeping and epic but ultimately is a bog standard Hollywood affair that does nothing to inspire but at least matches the on screen happenings and injects some excitement. Stereo reproduction is forceful enough to cut through the action sound effects and subwoofer and surround bleed are perfectly weighted.
Overall this is a very well engineering track and with some highly impressive demo worthy portions, this audio presentation gets a very solid nine rating. Highly recommended.
The extras portion is well fleshed out with some worthwhile features but a lot of them feel a little samey and short lived. I believe that a lengthy and comprehensive “making of” would have suited the material a little better. That being said, at least all of the features are in high definition. A digital copy of the movie is also included.
Focus Points: These features are also included in the WB Maximum Movie Mode, which features pop up PIP features.
Sam Worthington is Perseus (HD 3mins) - This short piece includes interviews with Worthington, Leterrier, Basil Iwanyk (producer with an unfortunate name!) as they discuss the casting of Perseus, with accompanying backstage footage. At one point it's stated that the casting of Worthington was the best casting choice of the movie and I rapidly lost interest.
Zeus: Father of Gods and Men (HD 2mins) - Like the previous piece, the focus of this short feature is Zeus and Liam Neeson. Again there's plenty of backstage footage (focusing on the armour of Zeus) and interviews with the cast, director and producers.
Enter the World of Hades (HD 3mins) - Taking a look at Fiennes and the character of Hades, the same short approach as the previous two features is taken here. It's worth noting that the script originally had Hades cast as a woman - just goes to show you how much interest the team had in authenticity! There are some interesting points on Hades's armour and the CGI effects but aside from that, not much here to retain interest.
Calibos: The Man Behind the Monster (HD 2mins) - Jason Flemming, who plays Acrisius, draws comparison to his character and the Terminator; I don't think so. There's archive footage of the laborious prosthetics which were applied to transform the 'Lock, Stock' actor but again there's not much here to hold the attention.
Tenerife: A Continent on an Island (HD 4mins) - This featurette includes plenty of location footage from Tenerife, where a large proportion of the movie was shot. Everyone involved comments on the diverse landscapes of this volcanic island and the constant battle they suffered with the island's climate; it looks nice, I might go there on holidays some time!
Scorpioch (HD 4mins) - Including plenty of unfinished CGI footage and models for the monstrous scorpions, we get to see how the Scorpiochs were brought to life for the movie. There are some amusing mechanical aids which were used in conjunction with the CGI aspects and the actors and special effects supervisors comment on the process and on the finished product.
Actors and their Stunts (HD 3mins) - As the name suggests, this featurette takes a look at all the stunts which are included. Interviews with the actors and stunt co-ordinators are included and it's worth noting that the actors did most of their own stunts (i.e. flying about on wires in front of a green screen or rolling around in the sand!).
Wales: A Beautiful Scarred Landscape (HD 2mins) - This feature takes a look at the quarry in Wales which was used during the shoot. Leterrier calls Wales miserable and says it's like being in hell!
Bringing Medusa to Life (HD 3mins) - Prodcuers, the director and stunt/special effects supervisors all comment on the Medusa scene, which was filmed first and is heralded as the most difficult scene to complete. Medusa is based on a Russian model and we get to see how she was altered through CGI to become the terrifying, snake haired destroyer of men.
Prepare for the Kraken (HD 3mins) - Like the previous feature, this piece takes a look at how the gigantic Kraken was conceived on paper and then rendered in CGI. A lot of work seems to have gone into creating this monster but the finished product seems to have been worth the effort.
The features listed below are not part of the “Focus Points”.
Sam Worthington: An Action Hero for the Ages (HD 7mins) - This feature takes a look at how Worthington prepared for his role as Perseus and the rigorous stunt and combat training that he went through before filming began. There's plenty off backstage footage and it's interesting to see how some of the scenes were put together. It's clear that Worthington is game for anything and really gets into his work but it's a shame that his acting ability does not match up to his physical prowess.
Alternate Ending (HD 5mins) - The alternate ending is in partially finished quality and features a final “showdown” between Zeus and Perseus. To be honest this ending is just as poor and contrived as the one included in the finished product.
Deleted Scenes (HD 18mins) - The first features a conversation between the Gods as they decide whether to slay the humans or show them mercy, with Hades intervening to give his opinion (this seemed very similar to the scene in the finished product). The second features Perseus as he has a conversation with Io. The third involves Apollo and Athena as they discuss their opinions on Zeus's decision to unlease the Kraken. The fourth examines the consequences for Hades's rampage in the city of Argos. The fifth is an alternate take on the scene with the Stygian witches. The sixth features Apollo as he attempts to persuade Zeus to turn against Hades. The seventh shows how Io saved Perseus from death in the sea when he was a baby (and he also receives a visit from Apollo, whose dialogue is delivered by Zeus in the finished product). The eigth depicts the death of Queen Cassiopeia. The ninth features Andromeda as she tries to escape the enraged public of Argos as Hades unleashes the Kraken.
'Clash of the Titans' was released this year and is a remake of the classic 1981 original that we all remember so fondly. With a seemingly stellar cast on board, which includes heavyweights Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and golden boy Sam Worthington, Louis Leterrier was given the daunting responsibility of helming the project. The movie charts Perseus's (the son of Zeus) amazing voyage across ancient Greece, to seek a way to defeat the monstrous Kraken, who will be unleashed by Hades (the Lord of the Underworld), if Princess Andromeda is not sacrificed to Zeus. While the updated CGI laden affair has its moments to shine, the woeful characterisation, acting and dialogue means that this one falls well short of the mark and is a huge disappointment.
The transfer, while suffering from some elements of softness due to the heavy use of CGI, is on a whole very impressive indeed and exudes sharpness and detail. The uncompressed surround mix is very involving and excellently engineered. The extras portion contains an interactive movie mode but the features are a little short lived and shallow. Overall the audio and video presentations, while excellent, cannot really atone for the very poor feature presentation and so I would recommend renting before buying (or alternative stick with the superior original).
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £22.31
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