Thursday, April 5, 2012

Wrath of the Titans

One thing is particularly striking in the junky sequel to 2010's rebooting of the Clash of the Titans franchise-- the use of dust splattered around (in inglorious 3-D) is fairly incredible.  Entire frames are covered with it scene after scene; makes sense considering its director Jonathon Liebesman, only last year made another strikingly dirty genre picture in Battle: Los Angeles.  What's left behind all that dust is a humorless, swords and sandals spectacle, that's while mercifully short and harmless, also quite a snooze.  Again, Sam Worthington plays Persues, son of Zeus (again played by Liam Neeson, seemingly tired and beleaguered moreso than usual for an only-for-the-paycheck assignment), the half God, half mortal hero of the piece has to save the world from some ugly something or other.  What's striking is the sheer almost painstaking response from the cast; more like "Ugh...we have to do this again" approach, rather than a more spirited, let's go for broke cheesiness material like this requires.  For a change, Ralph Fiennes joins the cast as Hades, rule of the underworld gone soft by arbitrary change of consciousness; Fiennes, the great actor and Valdemort himself looks even more tired than Neeson, however still more alert and playful than Worthington and his two cinematic expressions-- boredom and emptiness.  Also joining the fray is Edgar Ramirez, so vibrant a few years back in Carlos as Zeus' other and more sinister offspring Ares whose a bit more playful but clearly unexcited.

There's two touches in Wrath of the Titans that make it a better choice than it has any reasonable shot of achieving, and it's the detriment of the filmmakers that both are stymied.  Firstly, the arrival of Bill Nighy as the wonky, out of his mind accomplice to something is a warm welcome.  Nighy brings such a nutty, much needed comic cartoonishness to the piece, it's a jolt and a reminder of the inane fun a film like this really should be; that the script kills him off two scenes after his arrival is sad...sorry for the spoilers, but if you're venturing into Wrath of the Titans for its story arcs, you're already setting yourself for failure.  The second touch of near fun is a set piece spurred on Nighy's Hephaestus-- one where our bland heroes must race through a dangerous and intricate labyrinth to reach the underworld.  It's kind of a fun and sly device, one that the film needed more of-- fun, sly and slightly sinister.  That too gets all too conveniently compromised and again we're back to ugly, blurry boring experience (and dust) that is the Wrath of the Titans.  I have felt the wrath and it really sucks.  D

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