Saturday, April 14, 2012

TITANS WILL WRATH! (2 in 1 review)

  I actually really liked Louis Leterrier’s Clash of the Titans. It was a remake of the 1980 ‘epic’ of the same name. Going back to the original, I find its only eye candy. It’s a plodding, poorly acted mess. Not saying this one is any better, but the eye candy is far better and the action scenes have scope and feel really intense. I’m pretty sure this butchers all kinds of mythology, but I don’t really care. It’s just a silly action movie. As a critic, I’m pretty sure I should be calling it out at every turn and pointing out that accepting movies like these just allow studios to get away with mass producing endless crap. But I’ll let this one slide. Those scorpions were really freaking cool. And now they’ve made a sequel…

  In Clash’ Sam Worthington was a muscle-y demigod with a buzz cut. Which in and of itself made little sense. But okay. I put that aside. The role called for very little acting chops. This was… alright. The original may have had a good cast but so many of their performances were just horrible. So in conclusion, the remake trumped the original in the only area that mattered; even back then: Special effects and eye candy. It has a grand scope and top shelf CGI. It’s kind of a symbol of the issues with modern action movies.
A- Its a remake of a property that could’ve been left well enough alone.
B- Every fight scene is a slick and polished mess with camerawork rarely accommodating the decent choreography.

  There are moments in Clash that simply work really well and pay off all the spectacle and action, and these scenes are really good. Though as a whole the movie fails to elevate itself to any respectable measure. It seems not just content to be a mindless summer action movie... it revels in it.  It all the abundance of CGI, the rapid-fire action editing, the grunge-y punk music in the trailers that sneaks its way into fight scenes, and all of it.  But... I love it.  The movie has no right to be this fun and yet fall face down into every pitfall imaginable.  In fact, it doesn't just fall.... it dives.

  The supporting cast is great obviously. And even a few of the lesser known actors get entertaining roles that are fun to watch. Especially the hunters, and Mads Mikkelsen as that cool guy who's name I can't remember right now. So yeah. Suffice to say, that despite all its glaring shortcomings it manages to be a serviceable piece of fun eye candy. Its the base of my expectations for this new one. And that's really what I'm here to review, but so much of it was overlapping so without further ado...


  Now, its 2012 and they’ve released Wrath of the Titans. Thus making way for more insanely simple minded taglines: “FEEL THE WRATH” As if “TITANS WILL CLASH” wasn’t bad enough. But oh well. Who’s to judge a movie by its tagline? Suffice it to say since all the first one way was simple eye candy, I wasn’t about to expect any iota more from this new one. Which was a smart move. Wrath moves so very very fast we don’t really have time to connect with the characters (I’ll not reinforce this point to heavily since I missed the first five minutes). We’re given a painfully simple setup and CGI with scope that eclipses the last one within seconds. If all you want out of this one is monsters and CGI, you’ll be happy.

   Like a kid in a candy store. There are all kinds of new re-imagined creatures for our oft blank protagonist to fight and defeat this time around. Though you wonder, at a certain point in the movie, if that’s not bad acting at all and Perseus may simply be used to giant hellish monsters. What else could explain his extraordinarily bland performance here? Sorry folks, I like Sam. Liked him in Avatar, in Terminator Salvation and Clash of the Titans. But if you thought he was flat there… he falls exceptionally flat here.

  Except… in the humor. That’s right. This movie excels with the humor. Due in no small part to the entire cast (sans Rosamund Pike) has a “screw it, let’s just have fun” attitude. The result is a cast who looks like they’re having fun. Like a bunch of kids playing with toy swords in their buddy’s backyard. They smile, they run around, they stab things, they jump and roar at each other. Good times yeah?

  But yes, the humor. There are actual scripted funny moments, and a comic relief character who’s not facepalmingly bad and actually quite fun to watch. His personality alone steals the scene on multiple occasions. And he seems to have good chemistry working off of Sam’s frequent blankness.

  The movie has great effects, but there’s no build up to it. Fantastic sights and breathtaking locale aren’t given proper attention. We’re rushed there, shoved around, and yanked right back out. The movie sacrifices a feeling of grandiose for a relentless pace. The result is a mixed bag. I’d like to see panoramic shots of the underworld. Maybe a close-up of the soldiers’ faces and the calm before the storm as their impending doom bursts out of a mountain to smite them with waves of lava. The effects themselves are flawless, but their effect leaves much to be desired. In a world full of danger and monsters, it feels rather hollow. However, there are some scenes where Sam actually does pull through a strongly convincing emotion, and there are some scenes where everything just works. It just does. Which is amazing.

  And the movie itself, more often than not, is just flat out fun. There’s no time for character development or anything like that. Monsters. We need more monsters. These would be complaints at any other movie, but Wrath has a certain charm to it. It has the precise depth of a Saturday morning cartoon (and that’s being generous too) but it succeeds with raw spectacle. Even though it may be rushing through the motions, the fights are well set up and well choreographed, the monsters are cool to look at, the CGI is awesome, and there’s a smattering of well placed humor.

It’s a popcorn flick. The kind one could easily despise. But… as for me? It was just as easy to have a great time with it. Through all the nitpicks and complaints, Wrath of Titans is seriously just a lot of fun. Dumb fun, sure. But still. Fun.

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