Friday 30 March 2012

Review: Wrath of the Titans (3D)

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

Wrath of the Titans poster

Wrath of the Titans (3D)
99 mins / Dir. Johnathan Liebesman

I don't remember the sequel to the original Clash of the Titans. Largely because there wasn't one because it wasn't needed. It's not that I'm dead-set against them having made Wrath…, but I can barely remember what happened in the remake, it was so bland. Still, it was with an open mind (no, shut up, really) that I sat down to watch Sam Worthington ply his craft...

The Plot: The Gods are under threat. People have stopped praying, robbing them of their power, and Chronos, the father of Zeus, has formed a pact with his other son, Hades, to break free of the underworld. If Chronos escapes, and the gods aren't powerful enough to stop him, it will mean the end of the universe. Now the Gods have to pursue every avenue of possible help, including those who have rejected them…

The Good: For the most part, WotT looks pretty smart. A lot of the less fantastical effects are good to the point where you don't think of them as visual trickery, and the more over-the-top ones are… well, not convincing as such, but you imagine that's pretty much what a mile-high volcano monster/God would look like, yeah. Exposition points are interspersed evenly, and while this might normally be a drawback, there are chaotic stretches in the film where you'll be struggling to remember what the bloody hell's going on; so I found it welcoming to have frequent catchup sessions.

The casting is interesting, mostly workable, and it was nice to see Bill Nighy being paid to not just turn up and be himself for once. Part of me was wondering exactly why a weaponmaker/inventor for The Gods would have a broad Yorkshire accent, of course, but then Zeus has a thinly veiled Northern Irish one, and Perseus is magnificently Australian, as is Sam Worthington's apparent trademark. Actually, I know I usually moan about this, but I give Worthington points for his voicework, this time around. He's not even attempting to disguise it, and I'd much rather watch him not give a shit than watch him fail badly. Again.

Oh, and Rosamund Pike as Queen Andromeda, running around in a leather battle-tunic and looking all flustered? Go on, then. If you must.

The Bad: Toby Kebbel is a welcome addition as Agenor, the son of Poseidon, and actually injects some proper character into the proceedings, but there's something in either the editing or the timing of his humour that just makes it fall flat. The same goes for Bill Nighy as Hephaestus, where his slightly whacky character seems out of kilter with everything around him. It's as if there's been a gap left for the canned laughter to be dropped in later, but the editors didn't get round to it. When you add this to the aforementioned chaotic 'what's happening in this bit, again?' sequences, it feels a little like two second-drafts of different screenplays that have been edited together without either being finished. If you're going to go to all this effort to make a needless sequel to a needless remake, get the writing sorted first, and the rest will follow.

Bubo, the mechanical owl from the 1981 Clash of the Titans has a cameo. Again. He was in the last one, briefly, but this time his appearance is of Stan Lee proportions in terms of subtlety. If you're going to put him in, give him something to do...

The Ugly: As generally entertaining as I found it, there was just no immersion for me. At no point did I forget that I was sitting in a cinema watching a hastily green-lit follow-up.
And who the hell spends $150 million on making a film, then shoots it in 16:9 ratio? It feels like they're not trying, if I'm being honest.

The Third Dimension: Quite a few 'let's point things right OUT OF THE SCREEN!!!' moments, which were either a) jarringly out of context, or b) didn't quite work (when the spears are that 'close' to you in 3D, the ends appear to bend downwards - how is that a good thing?). Either way, they're probably not going to look very good when you're watching it in 2D at home (if my recent re-viewing of Drive Angry is anything to go by). The 3D is definitely there, but I suspect at the expense of a decent screenplay...

Worth £8+? Not particularly, unless you're a hardcore fan of this sort of thing. I think I enjoyed this more than its predecessor, if only because that had lowered my expectations. And that's not great, is it?


With the heartbreaking news of an Avatar sequel being given the go-ahead, I await the announcements of 'Carry On Again Titans' and 'Man on a Ledge 2: Ledge of Allegiance'...

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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