Thursday, March 29, 2012

Wrath of the Titans Review

Greetings and salutations, Internet!  Wrath of the Titans.  Sequel to 2010's less-then-stellar Clash of the Titans.  I'll come right out and say that I wasn't a huge fan of the original - as with most films I was tricked by the trailer and got quite excited for the film.  Then I was let down by the abysmal 3D, the mediocre visual effects, and a story that just didn't do it for me.  Luckily its sequel, Wrath of the Titans, improves upon most of these issues and delivers a taught, fast-paced popcorn action film that I enjoyed more than I anticipated.

Wrath improves upon the original is almost every way.  This time around, the 3D is actually utilized fairly well and is leaps and bounds better than Clash.  There are certain sequences that looking quite fantastic with the addition of the third dimension.  The visual effects also took a step us this time around, with fantastic work on Kronos (father of Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades - all three being reprised by Liam Neeson, Danny Huston, and Ralph Fiennes, respectively) and the labyrinth constructed to protect Tartarus (Kronos' prison).  Perhaps the weakest CG of the film involves a trio of cyclops who attack our band of heroes.  And they were still fairly believable.

Where Wrath still falters is with its character development and narrative.  Clash fumbled the ball completely when it came to these two facets of the film; Wrath merely stumbles.  We catch up with Perseus over a decade after the original, and clearly much has changed.  Without spoiling much, Perseus has a son, who is at least 12 or 13 years old, and he's known as the "Kraken-slayer;" he's become sort of a legend amongst the Greeks.  This is pretty much all the information we get about what's come to pass in the years following the actual slaying of the kraken.  As evidenced in the trailers, Hades is totally a bad guy now, out to unleash Kronos on the world. 

That's pretty much the whole plot.  Zeus goes to Perseus and basically says "hey, son, Kronos is coming back.  The world's gonna end.  Gotta go!" and thus sets Perseus in motion.  Characters are picked up along the way, and several stops are made at some pretty cool set-pieces, but I can't help but want for maybe 15-20 more minutes (Wrath clocks in at a trim 99 minutes - by comparison, The Hunger Games runs at 142 minutes) of actual character development.  Perseus and Andromeda have some history (considering she was being sacrificed to the Kraken back in the day) and it would have been nice to have some dialogue between the two, outside of the maybe two lines we actually got when they first meet.  And that's how the character development is presented throughout the course of the film.  We get some dialogue here and there (that doesn't pertain to finding and taking down Kronos), and even though I actually did care about these people, I just would've liked to see a bit more bonding between the crew that forms on the journey to Tartarus.

A quick note on the acting in the film: Wrath is populated with some fantastic actors, putting in pretty decent performances.  I cannot get enough of Liam Neeson or Ralph Fiennes and neither phone it in.  Danny Huston is fun as Poseidon, and new-additions Bill Nighy as Hephaestus and Toby Kebbell as demi-god Agenor added a bit of comic relief that I thought worked quite well.  Andromeda was re-cast with Rosamund Pike stepping into the role and I feel that she as well did a fairly commendable job.  For me, the two stand-outs are Edgar Ramirez as Ares and of course, Sam Worthington as Perseus.  I'm quite a fan of Sam's and thought he gave a fairly compelling performance.  Ramirez is pretty awesome as Ares - I just wish he had more screen time.

As previously mentioned, the plot is quite simple - and that's not necessarily negative by any means.  Wrath is a very fast-paced, tight, action blockbuster that rarely slows down to breathe.  And when it does slow down, there should've been more character development!  I feel like there is a place in cinema for films like Wrath, Safe House, and The Expendables; films that deliver on action and little else, but do it well.  And that's what Wrath comes down to being.  I'll get action AND well-developed narratives in franchises such as Bourne and Christopher Nolan's Batman films.  And that's fine with me.  Sometimes all I want to do is sit down and turn off my brain for awhile and watch some demi-gods and gods battle each other.

I'm fairly certain that there will plenty of film-goers out there that will walk away from Wrath disappointed - and I completely understand.  I went into the film with low-to-moderate expectations (again, because of two awesome trailers) and was pleasantly surprised.  There is just a ton of cool stuff in Wrath.  Despite some fairly glaring flaws, there is quite a bit of awesomeness to behold; the climactic battle against Kronos is pretty damn epic and a much better finale than the Kraken fight that capped Clash.  If you enjoyed the original, you'll probably love Wrath as well.  And if you didn't enjoy Clash, I hope that you'll give Wrath a chance, as it improves upon its predecessor is some marked ways.

Just a quick note about the director, Jonathan Liebesman, before I wrap this up:  Jonathan most recently directed Battle: LA, a film that I did not like at all.  The use of shaky-cam was awful and nausea-inducing.  I must say that he reigned his directing style in quite a bit for Wrath.  The plentiful action scenes and fairly well-staged, with camera-work that is quite comprehensible and a great improvement over Battle: LA.  Wrath is a much better overall film.

Wrath of the Titans improves upon its predecessor is many ways, yet remains stagnant in others.

The Bearded Bullet to watch Immortals and play some God of War!  

No comments:

Post a Comment