Tag Archives: Wrath of the Titans

Bane, Nanosuits and unofficial Batman musicals – oh my!

A few bits and bobs of note broke over the weekend and I would be remiss if I didn’t waffle a little about them.

Warner Brothers have confirmed (via self-obsessed movie snarker Nikki Finke) that the final trailer for The Dark Knight Rises will be attached to prints of “The Avengers” when it opens in the US on May 4th.  There’s definite method to this madness – the audience that I saw Wrath of the Titans with the other week seemed surprised to learn that there was a new Batman movie due imminently, so anything that the WB can do to build awareness amongst the normals seems like a good idea to me.

There’s some sporting event or other happening in the UK this summer, you know – it appears to have monopolised people’s attention somewhat.

Meanwhile, back in the land of Marvel, Guy Pearce has apparently signed on to play a leading role in “Iron Man 3” – which is apparently taking more than a leaf out of the Warren Ellis-penned “Extremis” storyline, which is fine with me.  I’m really keen to see what writer/director Shane Black comes up with, particularly as sources close to the production indicate that this is a more real-world/techno-thriller take on Tony Stark and won’t feature another climactic set-piece which involves two or three blokes in variants of the Iron Man suit knocking the crap out of each other.

Yep, I’ll believe it when I see it, too.

No, you're not hallucinating. Well, I assume not...

Finally, and by jingo there’s no way one could top this, the unofficial “Batman” musical is a thing and it’s apparently getting great reviews from people who aren’t insufferable hipsters: I know, right?

But is it as good as the “Predator” musical?  The correct answer to that is, NO, nothing’s as good as the “Predator” musical…

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“Wrath of the Titans” – reviewed!

Now featuring actual Titans!

No Kraken were armed in the making of this motion picture – but Greek mythology was slightly bruised by liberties in the script.

I think that most people can agree that the remake of Clash of the Titans could have been better.  The greatest source material that you could hope for – Greek mythology, for the sake of the Gods! – and what director Louis Leterrier delivered was some nifty effects, set design, a stellar cast and a story which seemed plodding and dull.  That’s somewhat unforgivable, frankly.   It was a success at the box office, but had a terrible post-conversion to 3D and even star Sam Worthington felt that a better movie was needed from a sequel.

And, even though this isn’t the best movie ever made, it’s a hell of a lot better than the first entry in the series.

Perseus - Bestrider of Staircases!

This time around, Worthington’s Perseus has rejected his half-God status to live a simple life as a fisherman, raising his son Helius in what passes for peacetime in ancient Greece (Io, Perseus’ love interest in the first film is no more, a plot detail in no way driven by Gemma Arterton‘s fee going up between that flick and this sequel).  As you might expect, peace exists in a film like this only to be shattered and it’s not long before all manner of Gods and Titans are kicking ass and putting the mortal characters in the thick of a battle for the fate of the universe.

So, small beans then?

You want to get that looked at, mate...

This is basically a classic quest narrative, as befits the source material, with Perseus teaming up with Greek warrior Queen Andromeda (a lovely, brilliantly posh, somewhat underused Rosamund Pike),  and fellow half-god/half-mortal rogue Agenor (Toby Kebbell – the best thing in the movie) to acquire a weapon god-tier enough to beat the God Kronos who wants to unleash Titans on a planet which has lost all respect for the Gods.

The man, the myth, the crusty beard - Toby Kebbell

If it’s spectacle that you go to the movies for, then this film delivers that with almost casual aplomb.  Unlike the laboured and oddly static original, “Wrath…” hits the ground running in its first ten minutes and doesn’t really come up for air until the end credits.  The ‘bigger/better/badder’ mantra is frequently thrown around with sequels as an indicator for the floating ticket buyer that they’ll get value for money from the film.

Making Kate Middleton look like white trash - Rosamund Pike.

I saw this film today in the new IMAX/LieMax 3D screen at my local multiplex in Sheffield and it was a feast for the eyes – the 3D is still post-converted but it’s a good job, achieved with more time allocated to the conversion and with a stereographer on set, per director Jonathan Liebesman‘s recent interviews.  The effects work is particularly impressive during a sequence set in the Labyrinth which guards a mortal back-door to the God prison in Tartarus.  Things are popping past you, dimensions are being played with and the scale of the thing is something, truly, to behold.

It’s not all good, however.  That same sequence in the Labyrinth bears witness to the worst example of action movie editing and photography that I’ve seen in a while – it’s all handheld camera work, blink and miss it edits and totally impossible to follow, even on a screen taller than my house.  Apparently, somebody on-screen was vanquished but you’d be hard pressed to tell how it was done – a pox on you Paul Greengrass wannabes!

Sam Worthington’s actually quite likeable this time around – he’s not the pissed-off, MMA fighter badass of the first movie and his performance is all the better for it.  He’s good at stoic, pretty good at delivering the one-liners his character gets this time around and a suitable foil for Toby Kebbell’s brilliantly cool and disreputable Agenor.  Neither characters wants to be a god or lead men, but when the plot calls for them to put aside earthly concerns for the good of their fellow-men, both rise to their missions brilliantly – I’m not asking questions particularly about how Agenor got to be a master tactician and lead a major part of the Greek army in the climactic battle, but I’m glad that he did.  Even if he did look like a member of 90’s UK alternative rock troubadours, The Levellers whilst doing so.

TL;DR version?  Better than the first one (especially in IMAX), far peppier and a decent way to spend a couple of hours at the multiplex.   Still loud, funnier and better acted than the first – I’d be up for a third movie.

Not something I expected to be saying this time yesterday, let me tell you.  And I didn’t even mention Bill Nighy in the review!  He’s in it – playing mentalist inventor Hephaestus, replete with a most unexpected, contextually ludicrous and bloody glorious Yorkshire accent: Greatest Living Englishman status confirmed!

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Titans or Princesses?

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I don’t know if this is the case for you but I find myself being oddly defensive towards fantasy flicks, sci-fi pics and things horrific when they open at the box office – on the basis that if you don’t support them, all we’re going to end up with is bland mainstream thrillers and Katherine Heigl rom-coms because that what’s Hollywood thinks they know how to make.

Note the presence of the word ‘thinks’ in that paragraph.

Take, for example, the soon-come first Snow White movie of 2012, Tarsem Singh’s revisionist fairytale “Mirror Mirror”.  The first trailer had me gagging, the second one less so and now I’m kind of in two minds about whether I want to go and see it at the cinema after Den of Geek’s surprisingly decent review (Mrs Rolling Eyeballs is also fond of revisionist fairy tales so this is quite up her alley).

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The thing that’s putting me off – or, to be more accurate, having me think that I’ll get more bang for my buck – is “Wrath of the Titans”.  I was no fan of Louis Leterrier’s charmless “Clash of the Titans” reboot as it squandered an amazing cast, resources and mythology in favour of delivering a movie which felt more like “God of War 4” than an actual film – unskippable PS3 cut-scene as cinema.

There are aspects about this sequel which perk up my interest – this trailer helped, the presence of the always excellent Rosamund Pike, this movie actually featuring some ACTUAL BLOODY TITANS, which is quite nice.  Plus, you can’t go wrong with Ralph Fiennes looking like he’s auditioning for Dimmu Borgir

The Antiquity Ass Kicking may have sealed things for me, but there is a dark horse candidate which also looks rather fabulous…

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Gotta love Aardman Animation.

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The Best and Worst SF Movies of 2011.

Sucker, Punched.

My very favourite blog in the world (clue: irony is being employed here), i09.com today breaks down their list of the best and worst SF movies of the year, because it’s the law to make these kinds of lists at the end of the year.

It’s illustrative to me personally that I’ve seen one of their top ten best films – the Marvel adaptation, “Thor”, and have a bunch of the other titles on my DVD rental list: Do I share a taste in films with my enemies?

The year's most underrated movie?

It’s a bummer that they couldn’t find a place on their list for “Source Code“, Duncan Jones’ follow-up to “Moon”, as I felt it did a lot to confirm that Jones could make mainstream, science fiction-inflected adventures as well as occupying the more art house territory of his debut – is “Limitless” really that much better?  “Source Code” had provocative ideas about the notion of the self, our Western responses to terrorism, personal freedom and found time to balance intellectual concerns with pulse-racing action, a romantic sub-plot which didn’t make you want to gnaw off your limbs in annoyance and some great acting work from Jake Gyllenhaal and Vera Farmiga, amongst others.

Tell me if I’m off-beam here, other viewers of this film – it was as good as I remembered it being, wasn’t it?

Meanwhile, in the realm of terrible films, io9’s blogger really didn’t like Zack Snyder’s fetish farrago, “Sucker Punch” and I can see where they’re coming from.  It’s a difficult flick to recommend to anybody as it shoots for the moon and misses primarily because it makes some utterly inexplicable, divisive choices in the process of doing so.

We’ve got a cast of young actresses playing young girls who are essentially imprisoned in a 1950’s reform school/mental home only to find that they’re now victims of what we might call people trafficking.  Yeah, I know – Friday night fun for your multiplex demographic!  In order to escape the very real horror of their surroundings, each girl escapes into a fantasy world which sees them transformed into super-cool, uber-skilled warriors battling all manner of sci-fi/high fantasy bad guys in order to retrieve dream world totems which become real world items which will allow them to escape.

Sounds like trashy fun – but it really isn’t.

The major problem for most thinking viewers of this film will be the way that it spends a lot of time getting leery over these young women, dressing them up in lingerie (not exactly practical for the battlefield, last time that I looked) and then photographing them in a way which makes Michael Bay’s soft-porn “Victoria’s Secret” adverts look like a Jane Campion film.

It’s that old chestnut – when does empowerment become exploitation?  If you answered “When a film director old enough to know better has his cast inexplicably dressed up like anime schoolgirl hookers”, that’s probably the correct answer.

Elsewhere on the list, you’ve got your usual candidates for terri-bad viewing during the year.  “Green Lantern” gets a nod, for mostly eschewing the cosmos-spanning comics lore in favour of a desperately dull, earthbound adventure with supremely dull characters.  “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” is cited, mostly for being shrill and still persisting with the idea that Shia LaBeouf is an actual leading man.  For the record, I could do without the human beings in the film (noted exception, the glorious Alan Tudyk) and felt that the action sequences were frequently extraordinary – it’s just a shame that the movie they appeared in was so unlikeable.

I would have to say that “Green Lantern” was my pick for the worst film of the year – as much of a missed opportunity as “Sucker Punch” was, it at least managed to provoke you to object to sections of it and had some bravura action (Baby Doll’s fight against the Giant Robot Samurai, the steampunk WWI Nazi Zombies, the dragon battle) to distract the audience momentarily from it’s profoundly misguided sexual politics.

They're letting anybody be a member of the Green Lantern Corps nowadays...

“Green Lantern” was chuffing terrible.  Sexless, character-free, action-light, played broadly by a cast who seem alternately bored, uncertain as to their role or believe that they’re in a pantomime and that mugging is therefore perfectly acceptable (For shame, Tim Robbins, for shame!).

It’s not entirely the fault of the actors – the script is wretched, the cinematography bathes the on-screen action with a murky green tinge that makes on-screen action hard to see and Martin Campbell shows so little interest in the character that he flashes back to the hero’s father’s death a matter of minutes after we initially saw it, apparently in the belief that the audience has nodded off in the intervening moments.  Of this film – which is apparently getting a sequel – I can say only ‘Ugh!’ by way of summing up.

Let’s hope that 2012 offers a few more things to look forward to – on the evidence of trailers for “Prometheus”, “The Dark Knight Rises”, dark superhero ‘found footage’ tale “Chronicle”, part one of  “The Hobbit” and even Greek Mythology sequel to “Wrath of the Titans”, things are already looking a lot better.

 

 

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