Monday, 2 April 2012

Wrath Of The Titans

Manic Minotaur

Wrath Of The Titans USA 2012
Directed by Jonathan Liebesman
Playing at UK cinemas now

Hmmm... you know I loved Ray Harryhausen films as a kid... loved ‘em... and still do. The original Clash Of The Titans, however, left me feeling a little chilly. I’m going to have to grab a copy of that last one at some point to see if I still feel as disappointed with it as I did when I was a kid or whether my tastes have mellowed over the years.

The remake from a couple of years ago, however, I really enjoyed.

I know I’m in a minority here but I felt it was one of those rare remakes which improve over the original material somewhat, although I have to admit I did miss Bubo the mechanical owl a tad... he was relegated to a joke for a few seconds in the remake (although I have to equally point out that it was a brilliant little reference for us “kids” who are old enough to have seen the original in the cinema). I even liked the ending to that last one... Andromeda was somewhat a non-character I felt, but the ethereal Gemma Arterton sacrifices her immortality (if i’m remembering this right) and comes to earth to “settle down” with Perseus at the end of the movie... and Gemma Arterton is clearly a foxy lady and deserved that ending with her character.

In the sequel, Wrath Of The Titans, Arterton was unavailable to take on the role due to scheduling conflicts and so, much to my disappointment, we join Perseus more than a decade later as he is just putting the last couple of stones on Arterton’s character’s grave. He is now bringing up his young son Helius (which actually does mean son in Greek, it turns out... Thanks, tonights episode of Eggheads!) on his own, after he has promised his dead wife to keep him out of trouble.

After refusing a request for help from his father Zeus on a flying visit, Perseus is forced to go to the aid of him anyway, in that roundabout gather and rescue quest kinda way, after his home village is invaded by some kind of giant, fire-breathing bird. Pegasus arrives to take Perseus to enlist the aid of Andromeda and the secret demi-God she has inadvertently imprisoned, and it’s off on a quest for “Weapons of the Gods” and business as usual.

Andromeda herself is a little more palatable this time around as she’s played by tough beauty Rosamund Pike, replacing Alexa Davalos. However, although she’s definitely got a little more to do this time, including a share of the fighting duties, it has to be said that she’s kind of wasted in this role. This really needed to be a much more meatier part for an experienced actress like Pike to get her teeth into. She does what she can in the role but the character is just not present enough for her to really do anything too interesting with it.

This film starts off quite well, though, and the first half an hour or so, which includes Perseus’ battle against the aforementioned giant, fire-breathing bird and a chase and bash sequence involving a few cyclops’ and their traps in the forest... although the cyclops here are just not as terrifying as the ones in The Seventh Voyage Of Sinbad, I should point out.

After these initial sequences though, things do seem to go down hill a little, which is a shame because the director, Jonathan Liebesman, previously directed Battle: Los Angeles which I thought was a great movie. Alas, while this movie tries hard to keep the pace going... it does tend to get dull and lifeless towards the end... the new John Carter movie walks all over this film in terms of heroic-fantasy as an all encompassing genre umbrella which can include things like Greek mythology themed peplum such as this one.

I was told that Bubo was in this one more but it turned out to be a bit of a fake. He is in it for just a few more seconds than the last movie... but only as an inanimate object who is being deferred to in conversation. Frankly, this appearance in no way matches the charm of the previous movie and was a huge disappointment to me. Seriously, writers and directors of pseudo-Titanic movies... I want my R2D2 substitute, mechanical owl flapping around in the air and making funny noises please! Is that really too much to ask in these days of CGI? This is just not on!

This sequence is followed by a fight with a minotaur which is decidedly lacking in interest and was a character who was surprisingly easy to beat. And then we have a big battle at the end of the flick between hell’s armies lead by Chronos against the small, Greek armies. Now Chronos is a pretty good idea as volcanic inspired monsters go and looks quite impressive throwing all that lava around... but, again, like the infinitely more impressive and real life special effect that is Rosamund Pike, it gets kind of weighed down tonally against all the other stuff that’s going on and ends up looking a bit mediocre in comparison.

There’s no real problem with the editing on this one... it’s all fairly competently put together, especially during the action sequences which are all well handled in terms of being easy to understand. You won’t be inundated with edits which are too fast to figure out whats going on.I think sometimes that action directors/editors employ that tactic deliberately because they’ve not remembered to get all the footage they needed to make it understandable... Wrath Of The Titans suffers from no such trouble, I’m pleased to say.

Alas, although Wrath Of The Titans (and its poor 3D transfer which wasn’t as good as the previous movie either, in my humble opinion) is certainly a rip-roaring adventure, I’d have to conclude that there’s certainly a lot more roaring than ripping going on in this one... I did get really bored with it towards the end and almost nodded off in a couple of sections. I don’t think the directing’s to blame on this one either... I thought the scripting could have done with a little rewriting and tightening in places. It was like the movie was almost split into two halves by different writers and the second half got the short end of the trident. If you liked the previous movie you probably won’t hate Wrath Of The Titans and may be willing to forgive it a lot of things (including Perseus’ hair cut) but I suspect you won’t be singing its praises for long either. Despite it’s famous flying steed, bizarrely coloured black instead of white, this movie doesn’t really have the wings it needed.

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