Warner Bros.
Sam Worthington, left, Liam Cunningham, Mads Mikkelsen and Gemma Arterton star in the remake of the action yarn "Clash of the Titans."

CLASH OF THE TITANS — ★★ — Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes; shown in 2-D and in the 3-D format; rated PG-13 (violence, gore, profanity, slurs, vulgarity, brief sex, nude art); in general release

The scuttlebutt is that Warner Bros. made the decision to convert its remake of "Clash of the Titans" from the 2-D format, in which it was shot, to 3-D practically at the last minute.

That decision allegedly gave film artists a little more than a month to make those changes for its theatrical release — though the film will be shown in 2-D, 3-D formats, depending on the location.

If that really is the case, that explains why the 3-D effects look so shoddy at times. Characters appear to be elongated or deformed, and none of the action sequences really benefit from the format conversion. (A recent pre-screening of the film for critics and the public was in 3-D, and this review is based on that showing.)

However, that doesn't explain why several other aspects of the movie are shoddy, too. If even half as much effort had gone into character development and plotting as went into character and creature designs, they might have had something worthwhile.

Instead, this film is one of the more flat, would-be blockbusters of late. While some aspects are visually impressive, "Titans" is fairly routine and even a little boring, and it may make you appreciate the cheesy 1981 original.

Like the earlier film, this action-fantasy is based on Greek mythology. Sam Worthington ("Avatar") stars as Perseus, the mortal son of the god Zeus (Liam Neeson).

As a child, Perseus was found by, and raised by, a kindly fisherman (Pete Postlethwaite).

Unfortunately, his adoptive family is killed by the vengeful god Hades (Ralph Fiennes), who's trying to send a strong message to mankind, which he believes has become impudent.

Hades also threatens to start a war between the godly realm Olympus and Earth, and the only person who may be able to stop him is Perseus. To do that, he'll have to find something that will kill both Hades and his monstrous flesh-and-blood, the Kraken.

The script comes form the screenwriters of the action duds "Aeon Flux" (2005) and "The Tuxedo" (2002). And director Louis Leterrier ("The Incredible Hulk") uses their flimsy story merely as staging for the bigger battle sequences.

However, these scenes and creatures aren't much more impressive than the original film's stop-motion-animation creations. Worse, large sections of plot appear to have been hacked out to make this a faster-moving film. (As such, you have to wonder why they even bothered with the subplot about the evil Calibos, played by Jason Flemyng.)

"Clash of the Titans" is rated PG-13 and features strong violent content and imagery (creature attacks, swordplay, including slashings and stabbings, arrowfire, fiery mayhem, natural and unnatural disasters, and violence against women and children), gore and gooey imagery (blood and various creature fluids), scattered profanity, derogatory language and slurs (some of them sexist in nature), some suggestive references, a brief sex scene (mostly implied), and glimpses of nude artwork (murals and statues). Running time: 106 minutes.