I still have an issue with 3D film. It seems more like a gimmick than a storytelling device. Also, this film was retroactively made 3D, largely because of the pressure of Avatar. So I wasn't too disappointed when I found that the theater I went to was showing the 2D version. Though, based on my fondness for the film, I might go ahead and seek out a 3D cinema to see it again.
I was never a huge fan of the original 80's version of COTT. It was cheesy even then, despite the appearance of Lawrence Olivier. I knew even as a kid that Bebo (the mechanical owl) was kind of doofy. But you have to like Medusa and, of course, the Kraken.
In the new version, many things are altered. This time around, Perseus is not on a quest for love. He and Andromeda share about twelve lines in the whole film. No, Perseus has a chip on his shoulder about the Gods, and he's on a quest to increase man's fortunes in the world, and bring these dieties down a peg. That's a strange tack for a big Hollywood film to take, but I think it works. Since these Greek gods are shown as flawed and certainly not omnipotent, it's not like this is a tract against current religious belief (though I'm sure many people will misinterpret it as such).
There's a lot of great acting in this one. Liam Neeson nails Zeus. Ralph Fiennes does a not-too-Voldemorty take on Hades. Pete Postlethwaite is his always-awesome self. (If you doubt me, take another look at The Usual Suspects, or even The Lost World.) I really enjoyed Alexa Davalos' performance of Andromeda. They didn't make her some ridiculous amazon (see Keira Knightley in King Arthur for what I mean). Neither was she a squealing damsel in distress. She was a strong woman who was willing (though certainly not eager) to sacrifice herself for her people.
But the film lives or dies with Perseus, and Sam Worthington does the job well. He plays that whole tortured hero thing very well. (Really, is Perseus really that different from Marcus in Terminator Salvation, or Jake from Avatar?) I liked that fact that he never wavered in his hatred for the Gods, even when he's forced to accept help from them.
And, of course, the effects. They were really quite awesome. Loved the scorpions. Loved the Pegasus. Loved the Kraken. Medusa was the least impressive, as if they hadn't put the final layer of texturing on the CG model, but it wasn't enough to bounce me out of the film.
I did have a couple of quibbles. One was the use (again) of Hades as the bad guy in the film. This does not match with my understanding of Greek mythology. Hades wasn't the bad guy. They were all bad guys. Hades was just the one living underground. But that's a minor quibble, since the film has to have a bad guy. The other was the heavy-handed sequel set up at the end. I have no problem with there being a sequel. That'd be cool. But don't dare me to hate your movie by being so blunt!
Even so, big thumbs up!