Last night’s 8pm curtain of American Idiot meant I couldn’t see all of the Clash of the Titans press screening, which began at 6 pm. But I was mainly interested in the quality of the faux-3D, which was finessed after the film was shot in regular 2D. I hate to drop a bomb but what I saw looked too dark. It might not have been intended to look this way, but it certainly did at last night’s showing. Which means, given typical theatrical standards, that it’s likely to be projected too darkly from Augusta to Anchorage starting on Friday.

Clash‘s 3-D doesn’t begin to approach Avatar‘s 3-D presentation levels, and that, in my book, constitutes a burn.

We all know that 3-D films have to be presented with higher-than-normal brightness levels to compensate for the darkening effect that 3-D glasses bring to the viewing. That sounds like a no-brainer to me, but one of three things happened last night — (a) the projectionist running the show at the Lincoln Square didn’t understand this equation on his/her own, (b) he/she wasn’t told by Warner Bros. to increase the brightness levels, or (c) everyone knew exactly what they were doing technically but it didn’t matter because the Titans 3-D experience isn’t intended to be as good as Avatar‘s, and that’s that. Take it or leave it.

When I took my glasses off the light levels on the screen (which are measured in foot lamberts) seemed okay. Not up to SMPTE standards of 16 but maybe somewhere in the vicinity of 10 or 12 foot lamberts, I’m guessing. But when I put the glasses on it was like I was watching the film through Korean Rayban ripoffs — everything seemed diminished by low light and layered in a faint murk.

The solution, I guess, is to watch the 2-D version and forget the stereoscopic.

Avatar‘s great-looking 3-D created a steroscopic boom, but crummy-looking 3-D flicks like Clash of the Titans hurts everyone. It takes the bloom off the rose, especially with greedy exhibitors charging $14.50 to $20 a pop.

Titans itself isn’t as bad as others have been saying. It’s a decent thing as far as this sort of dopey, kid-level cinefantastique stuff goes. It’s certainly better than the original 1981 Clash of the Titans, that’s for damn sure. I watched about 55 minutes worth standing up (arrived late, no seats) and muttered to myself, “This isn’t too painful, could be worse, the dialogue isn’t atrocious, the actors aren’t bad, Worthington retains some dignity, the effects are reasonably okay, whaddaya whaddaya,” etc.

In other words it’s not, you know, a “good” film but it’s okay if you adjust your standards and put on your Robert Rodriguez hat and say “fuck it, I don’t care, bring on the Kraken” as the lights go down.