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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.
A truly original horror film isn’t easy to come by these days; even the likes of Paranormal Activity and, going further back, The Blair Witch Project don’t stand-up to second viewing after the dust has settled from the initial impact. Irish production, The Canal, isn’t the film that’s going to change that, but it does have its positives.
The story tells of a husband troubled by paranoia; film archivist, David (Evans), suspects that his wife, Alice (Hoekstra), is having an affair and his suspicions are proven right. Amidst the impending demise of his marriage, he also comes to discover that a gruesome murder was committed in his house some one hundred years ago and he becomes increasingly unstable when Alice goes missing and he becomes the number one suspect.
While it’s far from perfect, writer/director, Ivan Kavanagh, manages to create a sense of dread and anticipation throughout, all the while resisting the conventions that have come to define the modern horror genre. It wouldn’t be completely off-point to call The Canal a more traditional, old-school haunted-house horror, with the dreary Irish backdrop making for an apt setting.
The aesthetic seems to have seeped into the dialogue, however, and paints the script with dreary deadpan interactions. But what will keep you engaged most is David’s slow emotional descent; it gives the film a humanness that many modern horrors lack. But as we’ve mentioned, this is a film not cut from the same mould and European film continues to produce diverse and unique horror.
Again, this is far from perfect and there’s a Hollywood polish that moviegoers have become accustomed to that’s lacking and at times this is a film that will make you feel uncomfortable in the best of ways. It’s as much as psycho-thriller as a horror and despite an underwhelming conclusion, it’s indie horrors like this that will impact the genre in the decade to come.
A lot more complex and involved than any of its predecessors, the fifth chapter of the long-running franchise whose roots date back to the 60’s, returns to the big screen in an exciting, but not entirely flawless, spy action that offers a decent dose of both thrills and drama.
Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, the Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation finds IMF agent, Ethan Hunt (Cruise), in a conflict with CIA boss, Hunley (Baldwin), who thanks to the reckless behaviour of his agents, is eager to shut down the force for good. However, Ethan doesn’t have time to deal with the agency and its slow descent into obscurity, as he’s got bigger fish to fry with the Syndicate; a covert international crime organisation responsible for several big incidents around the globe.
Deciding to go rogue, Ethan, along with the help of fellow agents, Benji (Pegg), Luther (Rhames) and William (Renner), embarks on a globe-trotting expedition in order to track down the Syndicate’s leader, Solomon Lane (Harries), before he makes his next big move, all the while coming across mysterious and intangible British Intelligence Agent, Ilsa Faust (played by the superb Rebecca Fergusson), repeatedly.
The Mission Impossible saga is almost two decades old and while it’s hard to believe that it has managed to hang on for this long, there still seems to be enough gas in the tank for the story to continue.
Opening up with an exciting stunt that sees the seemingly ageless Tom Cruise hanging on from a real-life plane as it takes off, McQuarrie is eager to get the action rolling and he manages to keep his focus with a series of interesting and intense sequences that follow soon after.
The plot is relatively twisty, but easy to follow, while the dialogue is sharp and filled with enough wit to lighten the Hollywood action load. As far as the performances go, the 53 year-old Cruise – who was allegedly injured six times during the making of the film – is once again pretty reliable and committed as the skilful agent Hunt, although it’s Ferguson that stands out as the mysterious agent who Hunt just can’t seem to work out; she manages to infuse enough intelligence, beauty and sophistication to her role.
Clean and well-constructed, the intensity and the suspense is strong in the beginning, however, the film seems to lose momentum in its final act. Nonetheless, flaws aside, there is still plenty of action – including the sensational Vienna Opera House scene – to warrant Mission; Impossible – Rogue Nation as a solid summer blockbuster.