Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Movie Review: Wrath of the Titans (99 mins - PG13)

The original Clash of the Titans was released in 1981 and featured a young Harry Hamlin as the toga-ed hero, Perseus.  Lawrence Olivier chewed a ton of the scenery as Zeus and according to the story, set a record for being paid a whole lot of money for not a lot of work, until Brando stole that title with Superman.  Ursula Andress, Maggie Smith (professor McGonogall for the HP fans), and everyone's favorite Penguin/boxing trainer Burgess Meredith also appear.  The movie also featured the beloved/hated metal/robot owl Bubo and the amazing stop-motion effects of genius Ray Harryhausen.  In this movie, they included some large stop-motion scorpions, a swamp-based vulture, Calibos (in distance shots only, in close-ups he was played by actor Neil McCarthy - save that for some trivia contest someday) the incredible rattlesnake-tailed Medusa, and of course, the Kraken.  Depending on how well you paid attention in your Greek Mythology courses, the movie either stays close to the original myths, or doesn't.  Perseus is the favored son of Zeus, but he accidentally upsets Thetis, a sea goddess.  He also falls in love with Princess Andromeda, who used to be engaged to Thetis's son.  What with all this interference, Perseus sets off on some incredible adventures to save his princess love.  Sadly, I couldn't find a trailer - but I did find a clip.  

The movie did terrible at the box office, but became a huge cult hit and enjoyed it's status as such until someone decided to remake it.  The fans released a cry of outrage, but no one paid any attention, and in 2010, we were gifted with the Sam Worthington/Liam Neeson version.  

It almost entirely changed the story from the original, had some really wooden leading acting from Worthington, and proved altogether not that successful.  There were some bright spots - I loved the presentation of Olympus, and had not seen it done quite that way before, it was beautiful.  Ralph Finnes was really creepy and evil as Hades, Mads Mikkleson played one of Perseus's soldiers, and the amazing Jason Flemyng showed up as Calibos.  I, like Guy Ritche and Matthew Vaughn, believe that having Jason Flemyng in a movie makes it instantly better.  If you don't believe me, go watch Snatch again.  He wasn't even supposed to be in that movie.  He showed up to take photos, and Ritche let him jump in.  Also - he's the only really watchable part of Transporter 2 - alongside his real-life best friend, Jason Statham.  Where was I?  Right.
So, the Clash reboot was average at best - with at least a very cool looking Kraken at the end, which the marketing team had ruined by putting it in every trailer released for the movie.  Sheesh, that's marketing 101...don't reveal the creature early (see: Alien).
Apparently it did well enough to warrant a sequel - Wrath of the Titans.  
Now, my knowledge of the ancient greek myths, the gods and goddess is mostly from the greek mythology course I took, and my studious watching of Hercules: the Legendary Journeys, and Xena: Warrior Princess, which I will assume had extremely accurate portrayals of the gods and goddess...because of course Aphrodite rode her seashell like a surfboard, right?  My knowledge of the titans comes mainly from playing God of War.  After all, I successfully defeated Ares in GOW1, and then defeated Zeus himself in GOW2, and am currently leading the Titans into war in GOW3.  (Incidentally - in GOW2, there's a fight sequence with Perseus, who is voiced by Harry Hamlin)  I'm sure they are completely accurate as well, Atlas has four arms, holds up the world, and sounds like Michael Clark Duncan - and Gaia is covered in trees and sounds like Linda Hunt - right?  
None of that matters with this movie.
Perseus has seemingly spent his time since his last adventure growing out his hair and raising his son as a fisherman instead of adventuring son of a demi-god.  His wife from the first movie has passed, and he is refusing all contact with his father.  Well, Hades gets upset and vows to release Cronos (Kronos?), the father of Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades from his prison in Tartarus, where Zeus trapped him long ago by using a weapon that was made of the combined weapons of the three sons.  Hades tricks Zeus, Perseus has to go save him.  
Worthington is slightly less wooden in this movie than the first one...he was better in Man on a Ledge, but he's okay in this.  Everyone else is more interesting, but that's not really his fault.  Rosamund Pike (Doom, Die another Day) is Andromeda in this version - a queen leading her troops into battle (always cool).  Neeson and  Finnes are back as Zeus and Hades.  Danny Huston - fulfilling the movie's one mandatory American role - steps into Poseidon.  Edgar Ramierez (Bourne Supremecy) plays Ares with just the right touch of venom.  Toby Kebbel (who was in The Sorceror's Apprentice and Prince of Persia, but I remembered as "that dude from RocknRolla!") is an absolute joy as Agenor, Poseidon's half son.  He steals the movie, right up until Bill Nighy shows up - and completely runs away with it...he is unbelievably entertaining.  
As far as plot/story goes...does it really matter?  This movie is all about the visuals.  The story is there and easy enough to follow - but admit it, you're there for the same reason you wanted to see the first one.  Big shiny 3D CGI effects.  And boy does this deliver on that front.  All the scary demony things are well done, especially the cyclopses (cyclopsi?) and the double torsoed warriors from the trailer.  This is directed by Jonathan Liebesman who also did Battle L.A. (see it), and the most recent Texas Chainsaw entry (don't).  A few of the battle scenes are shot a little too up close and personal (back up the camera - let us see the effects!), but aside from that, I thought the movie was well done.
It's super-fun, big time CGI pretty, and great popcorn style.  If you don't expect too much, you won't be dissappointed!
8 out of 10.  
Gained multi points for Kebbel and Nighy - lost points for Worthington (sorry buddy, that new hairstyle did not make you more relate-able).  Gained points for the crazy two headed dog thing with snake tail that breathes fire...I totally just defeated one of those in GOW3, so I knew how it needed to be taken out.
Bonus video:  the late great Kevin Tod Smith as Ares in an episode of Hercules where there was a parallel universe, so he was the god of love instead of war...oh, it makes no sense...just enjoy him in those pants...
Second bonus video:  trailer for the movie Doom - which I love, has some awesome practical effects, a great first person shooter sequence, and stars Wrath of the Titan's Rosamund Pike as the sister to Karl Urban's Reaper - who used to play Cupid on Xena/Hercules...see how this is all circular?

Bonus video:  GOW3 trailer - because, as I said, it's where all my titans knowledge comes from! 

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