Friday, March 30, 2012

Wrath of the Titans ★ ★ ★

Feel the Wrath, Stay for the Creatures

Release Dates
29th March 2012 USA & UK 30th March 2012
Other Countries Release Dates


One of the first movies I ever saw at the cinema was the 1963 ‘Jason and the Argonauts’.  The fight scene with the skeletons is still vividly etched in my mind as one of the highlights of my early movie going days.  Apparently, this one three minute scene took four months to produce in those days before computers.
Thanks to ‘Jason’, I have a soft spot for these Gods versus Mortals films.  They are not popular with the critics, with good cause.  As I watched ‘Wrath of the Titans’, I attempted to remember the plot of its predecessor, the 2010 ‘Clash of the Titans’.  But it had become hopelessly muddled in my mind with ‘Prince of Persia’, the recent ‘The Immortals’, and possibly even a few ‘Mummy’ films. 
These films all have one thing in common, they are a boy's own adventure if a boy were allowed to let his imagination run wild.  An in-depth plot is the last thing we are meant to expect.  They are squarely aimed at those who enjoy big men leaping around with swords and tridents, fighting ancient creatures breathing fire and lava, and battling Gods who are pretty handy with lightening. ‘Wrath of the Titans’ is another episode in this fantasy genre.
A decade after his heroic defeat of the monstrous Kraken, Perseus (Sam Worthington), the demigod son of Zeus (Liam Neeson) is attempting to live quietly as a village fisherman as the sole parent to his 10-year-old son, Helius.
 The Gods, however, are not living peacefully, and are losing their immortality thanks to the mortal’s lack of devotion.  Kronos, the father of the long-ruling brothers Zeus, Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Poseidon (Danny Huston) is rotting in the dungeon of Tartarus in the cavernous Underworld.
Hades, fearing the loss of his immortality, hatches a plan with Ares (Édgar Ramírez) Zeus’s son—who has a real inferiority complex when it comes to his half-brother Perseus.  Together, they capture Zeus, imprisoning him in Tartarus, in order for Kronos to siphon off his power in order to take over the world again and punish the mortals.
Perseus, determined to rescue Zeus, begins an odyssey, accompanied by warrior Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike), Poseidon’s demigod son Agenor (Toby Kebbell), and fallen god Hephaestus (Bill Nighy) searching for way into Tartarus to free Zeus.  Along the way, he must fight some powerful mythological creatures and navigate his way through a dangerous revolving labyrinth.
“There’s truly a smorgasbord of action to be had in this movie,” says visual effects supervisor and second unit director Nick Davis, who also worked on the first film.
As the title indicates, 'Wrath of the Titans' called forth some mammoth and mythical adversaries to pit against Perseus: the multi-headed Chimera, three one-eyed Cyclops, an army of double-bodied Makhai, and one powerful, menacing Minotaur. His most formidable opponent is, of course, Kronos, the gargantuan, father of Zeus, Hades and Poseidon, who is on the verge of breaking free and bringing hell down on the earth.
The first foe Perseus meets is the Chimera, a fire-breathing beast with the heads of a lion and goat, dragon-like wings and a vicious snake’s head at the end of its tail.
The creature was primarily produced via CG, but the damage it created was a combination of visual and special effects. Neil Corbould, special effects supervisor on both this and the prior film, explains, “In order to keep the audience guessing ‘Was that real? Was that CG?’ I find it’s better to marry the computer elements with practical ones, for a more seamless end result. It allows the atmosphere you generate—in this case, bits of ash or other light materials—to interact with the actors as well. So the destruction brought about by the Chimera was achieved on set, and enhanced later by the visual effects team.”
The strength of this film is in its visual effects and full on action, so don’t expect more than average dialogue scenes.  Even if the actors keeping their own accents are a little puzzling, the action is convincing.  If I think back to my first brush with the Gods in “Jason”, it wasn’t the story that I remember; it was the relenting and merciless skeletons advancing on Jason.  Don’t see this for the plot or the acting; see it for the wonderful monsters and creatures. Just like ‘Jason’s’ skeletons, they’re memorable.