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Wrath of the Titans: Bland Action Sequel
Hades (Fiennes) and Ares (Ramirez) have conspired to kidnap Zeus (Neeson) and use his power to break Kronos, king of the titans and father of Hades, Zeus and Poseidon (Huston), out of Tartarus, where his three sons had imprisoned him after they overthrew him. Only Perseus (Worthington), Zeus’ demigod son, can avert this calamity and save the world. Accompanied by Queen Andromeda (Pike) and Poseidon’s demigod son Agenor (Kebbell), the trio try to find a way to free Zeus from the underworld so he can help them in the fight against Kronos.
The film’s plot fulfils only one purpose: to connect the various fights and battle scenes together. Seriously, don’t question anything or you’ll uncover a ton of gaping plot holes. And while these fights are initially pretty cool, after Perseus has fought a chimera, Cyclops and a Minotaur, you start to get kind of bored and then there are still battles with Hades and Ares and Kronos to sit through. And while the fights /mythical creatures look good, there’s nothing particularly exceptional about them that’ll hold your attention for the entire film.
The film looks blandly pretty in a sand-strewn kind of way. Everything looks good but nothing stands out or grabs your attention. These swords and sandals flicks are a dime a dozen and after last year’s Immortals, the bar has been raised tremendously on eye popping visuals. Unoriginality seems to be a common thread here because the 3D is absolutely wasted. It’s mainly used only to chuck a bunch of rocks at the audience. There are some scenes that are pretty eye popping though. Perseus, Andromeda and Agenor trying to navigate their way through a labyrinth to get to Kronos comes to mind. The labyrinth’s walls shift, tilt and rearrange themselves while the trio try to get through it before they’re squeezed to a bloody pulp or tossed off the edge.
The most surprising thing about the film is how it’s filled with heavyweight actors who are barely recognisable. Both Fiennes and Nighy were unrecognisable under their costumes and wigs. But the problem wasn’t just in their appearance. These two actors who are usually pretty electric just weren’t even trying. And it wasn’t just them either. Worthington continues his quest to blend into the background of every film he’s in and Neeson sleepwalks through his dignified, wise man shtick.
Wrath of the Titans can be summed up in three words: beige, bland, and forgettable.
Peter Jackson’s fourteen-year-long Middle-Earth adventure has finally come to a close with the third and final instalment Bilgo Baggins’ journey with The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies; a slightly bloated, but generally successful, finale that boasts plenty of action and technical superiority over its immediate predecessors.
Hitting the ground running and wasting no time in plunging audiences in the deep-end, The Battle of the Five Armies begins exactly where the second film left off, with Smaug (once again voiced superbly by Cumberbatch) setting Lake-town ablaze as Bilbo (Freeman), Thorin Oakenshield (Armitage) and his army of loyal dwarf-followers watch from the Lonely Mountain.
After escaping imprisonment, Bard (Evans) slays Smaug, leaving the endless treasures of the mountain unguarded for Bilbo, Thorin and co. to continue their quest. But as news spreads of Smaug's demise, the lure of the mountain's coveted riches triggers an inevitable path to war.
A With a running time of just over two hours, The Battle of the Five Armies is the shortest of all of The Hobbit entries, though it’s also the most ambitious and visually-creative of the lot. The cinematography is exquisite and the CGI techniques seem to have been pushed to their very limit.
The cast is, as always, steadfast and dependable with Armitage delivering a blockbuster performance as Thorin, though Freeman’s usual whimsical nature and superb comic timing is, surprisingly, underused. Similarly, the rest of the cast, including Lilly as the she-elf, Evans, as the newly-emerged leader of Lake-town, and McKellen take a back-seat.
With this being the finale, it plays out like a climax and is heavy on the action and not much else – as a standalone film, it may feel a little hollow for some, but for fans, it's a fittingly spectacular conclusion to the series.
The tension and atmosphere is palpable in Jim Mickle’s latest genre-bending thriller, Cold in July; a riveting and a deliciously twisted adaptation of Joe R. Lansdale’s crime-novel of the same name.
Set against a Texan backdrop, Cold in July takes place in the early 80’s and centres on a man dealing with the shock of having killed an intruder in his own home. Richard Dane (Hall) is a quiet and a good-mannered frame worker who live in a small town with his wife, Ann (Shaw), and their young son, Jordan (Hall).
His relatively mundane, but happy, life is sent into turmoil after the deadly confrontation. Despite being assured that the man he shot and killed was a wanted felon, his guilt pushes him to visit the cemetery in which his victim is buried, where he comes by the deceased’s father, Ray (Damici); a paroled convict who seems intent on avenging his son’s death.
If you’ve already had the pleasure of watching Jim Mickle’s efforts in the moody and the somewhat unconventional 2013’s thriller, We Are What We Are, then you probably already know what to expect from the director’s fourth entry.
Following three unconventional horror films, Jim Mickle manages to channel his bloodcurdling standards into something much more grounded without losing his penchant for the unsettling.
Grim, edgy and full of unpredictable twists and turns, Cold in July keeps its audience on its toes the entire way through. As the two main characters begin to interact, things become much more complicated and a potential case of mistaken identity propels the plot into more than just a revenge mission. Just as you think the leads figure out a piece to the puzzle, the story takes a new direction altogether.
Deeply-layered and underlined with a sense of unpredictability throughout, one of Cold in July’s biggest assets is the stellar performance of its cast, who, collectively, manage to keep the story authentic amidst the twists and turns. Leading the way is Hall, who is convincing as an everyman caught up in a violent world; Shepard is his usual fantastic self while Johnson – who comes in a little later into the story – is infectious as a detective with quintessential Texan predilections.
While this film is unlikely to make a huge mainstream impact, it serves as another example of Jim Mickle’s terribly underrated directorial prowess. Its slow, broody build-up doesn’t sit comfortably in the scope of modern thrillers, but given time, it unfolds into a unique piece of filmmaking that will linger with you for days, maybe even weeks, after the credits roll.