Sunday, 23 December 2012

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Wrath Of The Titans

Directed by: Jonathan Liebesman

Produced by: Basil Iwanyk
Polly Cohen Johnson

Screenplay by: Dan Mazeau
David Leslie Johnson

Story by: Greg Berlanti
David Leslie Johnson
Dan Mazeau

Based on: Characters by Beverley Cross

Starring: Sam Worthington
Rosamund Pike
Bill Nighy
Edgar Ramirez
Toby Kebbell
Danny Huston
Ralph Fiennes
Liam Neeson

Music by: Javier Navarrete

Cinematography by: Ben Davis

Editing by: Martin Walsh

Studio(s): Legendary Pictures
Thunder Road Films
Cott Productions
Furia de Titanes II A.I.E.

Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures

Release date: March 30, 2012 (Worldwide)

Running time: 99 minutes

Country(s): United States

Language: English

Production budget: $150 million

Box office revenue: $301, 970, 083

Preamble once again here! I've actually taken a couple of days off from watching movies full-stop, much less reviewing them. I watched The Stendhal Syndrome again, and although that is noted as the point at which Dario Argento's films turned for the worst, I find it to be a terrific psychological examination of trauma, capped with a magnificent lead performance by Asia Argento. Furthermore, I put this week's relaxation down to both my vociferous reading of Clive Barker's Books Of Blood Vol. 1-3 and re-watching Toy Story 3 (which I think is the benchmark of contemporary cinema since the start of the 21st century) again, being as emotional and entertaining an experience of a film as it is. So, for more preamble and a rare review, keep your eyes posted.

Diversionary tactics as a lazy way to get started aside, this is indeed (assuming you haven't read the title. If you haven't, you're an idiot!) a review for Wrath Of The Titans. The second in this franchise to 2010's Clash, itself a remake of the 1981 film, picks up ten years after the previous film, with Sam Worthington's Perseus living as a fisherman with his ten-year-old son, minus his now-deceased wife, presumably because they couldn't get Gemma Arterton back on the project. There's tension amongst the Gods, with Zeus (Liam Neeson) and Poseidon (Danny Huston) attempting to come to an agreement with Hades (Ralph Fiennes). However, Hades and Poseidon's son Ares (Edgar Ramirez) have made a pact to capture Zeus, so as to drain his power and revive Kronos, and of course, the reluctant Perseus is brought back into the mix of things, hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to war we go, you get the picture! I won't lie, even though I seemed to prefer the mediocre 2010 first film more than most, I was really dreading watching this one.

So, Wrath Of The Titans, eh? To start with the good, I've always had a thing for mythology, so anything with tales of cyclops' and battling gods just ticks a box to start with. Also, it's a technically astute movie that's very well shot by Ben Davis, and from a special effects standpoint it also looks distinctive. Like the previous film, the effects do look realistic, in that despite your awareness of the illusion, you still buy them. From another standpoint, also like Mad Mikkelsen in the original, while there is some decent but hammy acting, Wrath features a really good performance from Toby Kebbell. It seems every time Kebbell pops up onscreen, it takes a while for me to register that's him, and I put that down to his versatility. An always charismatic onscreen presence, Kebbell does the comic fodder role in this rather well, and gives some life and energy to the proceedings. I think there's a star just waiting to break out in Toby Kebbell. Finally, it's ninety-nine minutes long, and while it was a double-edged sword for Clash, in the case of Wrath it was rather welcome. I like some epic blockbusters, but it baffles me why studios see the need to make everyone big $200 million a two-and-a-half-hour deal (in 3D!). Here, we're over and done with before the hundred-minute mark, and as such, regardless of whether you enjoy it, the fact is that you will be able to find time to watch it. 

That's the good done with, and I type that with a degree of trepidation, because I have a bit of a begrudging respect for the pulpy attitude of these Clash movies. However, there's a good lot of tripe where Wrath Of The Titans is regarded, and these faults must be acknowledged. I'll start, as ever, at the root of all this, because this is one terrible script. If ever there was an 'artistic' definition of a whole lot of nothing, this would be it, given that a lot is apparently happening, but I frankly for the life of me could not tell you the plot details if I wasn't using Wikipedia for the synopsis. I'm not going to bang on too much, because it's boring me thinking about it, but this script is just such a shoddy and lazy piece of workman's handwriting that it makes me think that this was an experiment in automatic writing that just happened to make it to the screen. The idea that people are paid a lot of money to write these things, words... bah! This lazy workman mentality passes over to much of everything else involved in the movie. Sam Worthington, who's increasingly passing for Michael Rooker with every new movie, is completely lacking in any animation and looks bored to tears. Rosamund Pike, replacing Alexa Davalos as Andromeda, who I can give or take, is rubbish in this film, but I would put it down to poor characterisation in the script more than her acting, although that is a part of it, while Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes thesp it up with some heavyweight acting jousts, pick up their pay-checks and leave. Javier Navarrete bangs out a murder-by-numbers score that, while not actively making me want to blow up someone's head a la Darryl Revok of Scanners, but does conjure up the ghost of that long dead horse corpse that continues to get flogged, said it before, saying it again, the Emotional Heartstrings Orchestra. Blah blah! Finally, Jonathan Liebesman, a director who's unwittingly beginning to rustle my feathers (I try not to take it personally, but he makes these movies; I on the other hand have to watch them!), effectively fills out the hack-for-hire role. I'm trying not pick on him, but this guy is being pimped out by his usual owner Michael Bay, who in between pre-production for 'Ninja Turtles,' a project I detest already, has been pawned temporarily to Warner Bros. Clash was a flawed movie, but at least Louis Leterrier gave the first film personality, whereas here Liebesman just does not care, does only what is necessary of him on account of the studio, and contributes to the all-engulfing vacuum of nothingness that represents just how many ahems! I give about Wrath Of The Titans.

Don't get me wrong, there are certain individually good things about Wrath Of The Titans, in particular a strong supporting role from Toby Kebbell, who once again proves his weight in gold, and there is something vaguely enjoyable in a big blockbuster that doesn't take itself too seriously, but it doesn't change the fact that this is a bad movie. Suffering from a workman's script that could have been produced on an industrial assembly line, it's a mostly uninteresting movie, the indifference of those involved on the film being reciprocated in my general feeling about the film. Dead Heads was a bad movie, marginally worse than Wrath, but at least they were trying! Incidentally, Dead Heads cost under $1million, so you'd get approximately two-hundred Dead Heads for one Wrath Of The Titans. Out of that two-hundred, they might mostly be stinkers, but there's bound to be a few diamonds in the rough, and it would give young filmmakers to get their foot in the door.  It's one thing making a bad movie, but to not even make an effort is another, and when you have $150 million, it's inexcusable to waste that much money which could be put towards so many better things, and if you want my suggestion about something that sums up this film better than any review, my own included, go and check out Ian Dury & The Blockheads' What A Waste. Says it all really!

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 3.4/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Tired (not stopping me watching Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer before I go to bed. Hello to Michael Rooker!)

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