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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.
Directly and unapologetically inspired by Disneyland’s futuristic theme park ride of the same name, one might well argue that Tomorrowland is marketing ploy, designed as a sly attempt to drive more traffic the ‘Most Magical Place on Earth’. But Brad Bird’s science-fiction adventure managed to soften this writer’s admittedly cynical heart.
Tomorrowland is centred on Casey Newton (Robertson); an intelligent and driven young woman – and daughter of a NASA engineer, Eddie Newton (McGraw) – who sees the world through rose-tinted glasses. Unexpectedly gifted a mysterious looking pin, Casey soon gets access and a sneak peek into a parallel dimension called Tomorrowland – a land where only the best artists, dreamers and visionaries reside. There, she meets an Audio-Android named Anthea (Cassidy) who eventually sends her on a path to Frank Walker (Clooney); a pessimistic and sceptical man who was once a brilliant and an equally optimistic young inventor.
See, Frank used to be a resident of Tomorrowland but, after learning of the community’s secrets, was kicked out by the dimension’s leader, Nix (Laurie). He has no desire of ever returning - let alone break down the door that has long been shut away from the pessimism of the real world - but he soon buckles under Casey’s relentless optimism as they embark on an adventure.
Bird creates a visually grand and immersing futuristic world; one filled with plenty of imagination, action and colour which will leave audiences with plenty of memorable moments. However, the heavy use of CGI gives the film a bit of an unintentional coldness and the script suffers similarly. The plot and the characters have plenty of heart, but much of the film is spent explaining the finer details of its fantasy world, rather than just letting them play out organically.
As expected, the cast is solid; Clooney is his usual charming self and the chemistry between him and Robertson – previously seen in Nicholas Spark’s The Longest Ride – navigates the story affectively, while Laurie channels his inner-House – successfully of course.
Driven by a series of bold ideas and fuelled by powerful sentiments of positivity and hope, not everything is ideal in Brad Bird’s earnestly optimistic world of Tomorrowland; it’s an intriguing and ambitious science-fiction entry that, despite its flaws, still manages to serve up a pleasing family-friendly movie-going experience.
Spooks: The Greater Good, the big-screen treatment of the long-running BBC television series, comes almost four years after the show’s exit from the small-screen. Known for its devastating twists, fans of the original show will be pleased with Bharat Nalluri’s commendable effort, although those who aren't familiar with it, might feel a little lost in the process and even a little underwhelmed with the end-result.
The adaptation sees Peter Firth reprise his role as the unflinching and emotionless MI5 chief, Sir. Harry Pearce, and the film opens with a long opening credits sequence showing Pearce taking the heat for the escape of a Middle Eastern Terrorist, Adem Qasim (Gabel) during a botched prison transfer from MI5 to the CIA. Taking full responsibility for the escape, he is soon forced to resign from service and, as a result, fakes his own suicide and goes rogue, which triggers an investigation. The man given the find out what happened to Harry is – dramatic pause – his former protégé, Will Holloway, ably played by Game of Thrones hunk, Kit Harrington.
Written by Jonathan Brackley and Sam Vincent, there’s a distinct sense of grittiness and realism that is often missing from similar productions across the pond in Hollywood. The tone is applied well to what is a heavy mix of traditional and modern elements of espionage films and the twists and turns are aplenty – perhaps a little too many to keep a steady track of. But the urgency behind each and every one of them can be felt throughout. Sadly, however, the film’s faults are of its own doing; produced on a relatively modest budget, it tries a little too hard to impress and it’s only when it tries to move things into the kind of grandeur and ambitious action set-pieces associated with its Hollywood peers that it falls a little short.
Firth, who has been playing the same role for the past ten years, is unsurprisingly convincing as the ex-MI5 Head of Intelligence Chief, though Harington doesn’t shake off his pretty-boy persona enough to be as affective. Visually, the film is a winner and the silvery-blue aesthetic it’s coated in perfectly communicates the murky winters of London and the aforementioned gritty tone. There’s a lot to commend in Spooks: The Greater Good, but at the end of the day it offers nothing new to the genre and it’s big-screen adaptation just needed to be more daring and step out of the confines of television.