This movie has been out for a long time now (a really long time when you consider when it was made) and hauled in a bunch of awards yet I just saw it. Why? Don’t know, sat there with some other Blu-rays from Netflix for a while. Rather than write an entire treatise I will do a micro-review, a quick snapshot of what I liked and didn’t like.
- Fantastic cinematography: Really wish the Academy voters would have rewarded some great old school cinematography over the 3D gimmickry.
- Great core characters: The three core characters of the film are well fleshed out, they are what drives the film. Wow, a film with characters, how un-Hollywood!
- Kathryn Bigelow: Best Director was well deserved, I was floored. I thought this was hype (i.e. how could the director of Point Break get best director?) but it surely was not. Excellent work.
- Core theme: The core theme about combat and what it does to soldiers was, I think, well done. In that regard this film is probably one of the best films about war ever made. I don’t like all of how it got there (see below) but it was well done.
- Jeremy Renner: Absolutely fantastic job. He had his John Wayne game face but could flip it around and show the vulnerability (i.e. Beckham parts and shower scene). It’s too bad he ran into someone who was owed an Oscar.
- Complete fancy: This film is a joke when it comes to representing the job of an EOD. They don’t act like this, if they do they are dead EODs.
- Unit of supermen: Hey let’s make ourselves snipers and we won’t call for any support we’ll just hang out here with these mercs all day! Let’s split up in a hostile area at night! Let’s never use a radio or call for support! It helps isolate the core characters but there is no doubt this film fails miserably when it comes to realism.
- Military stereotypes: We have another “all officers are idiots” film. I love David Morse, he’s one of my favorite actors but to see him do this cheesy stereotypical good ole boy full bird colonel imitation was terrible and pointless. Depicting our troops acting this way I think bordered on disrespectful and stretched artistic license. Then we have the lieutenant colonel psychologist which was equally nauseating (like the team would just leave him to hang out in the street).
- US stereotypes: Just what we needed, another movie portraying Americans as a bunch of “yee ha let’s go kill ‘em all” types.
I’ve never had such a film that struck me with this kind of mixed verdict. I am going Machiavelli on this one in that I like the point the film made and I liked this as a film so overall I score it as a great film. However, I certainly didn’t like how it got there. It leaves me asking the question if Bigelow could have gotten to that message without taking the shortcuts or not? Did she have to create these utterly unrealistic situations to isolate the core characters? I’ve come to the conclusion that, to an extent, she did.
There’s a great risk you take when you make a war film about a war that is still going on. Many will demand accuracy and this film was very inaccurate in a lot of areas. Also, as I said, it bordered on being disrespectful and cartoonish with how it portrayed its characters. Do I think there are some characters like this in the military? Probably, but not many and not the ones we should be focused on. At the same time I loved one of those characters even though he was completely unrealistic.
So there you have it, if you are looking for an accurate war movie, this is not your film. However, if you are looking for a great movie about war, that sums up The Hurt Locker I believe.
If you are looking for a faithful remake of the great Ray Harryhausen cult classic keep on looking, because this isn’t it. No, this Titans is a stripped down (although there we more stripping in the original) no nonsense action flick and that’s pretty much it. The screenwriters on this film got way overpaid because there is very little dialogue in this film at all other than to fill in and drive Perseus and his band of gods haters on to the next part of their task.
The beginning starts out true to the original, Perseus and his mother are cast off in a coffin by his father Acrisius (who later comes back as Callibos is a bizarre time saving twist), you don’t know why at the time but they just are. The coffin is pulled from the water by, to my shock, Pete Postlethwaite (In The Name of the Father) making his appearance as the first character you will have no clue what his name is (there will be many more). You will only know him as Perseus’ dad and, amazingly, we all have British accents in Ancient Greece. The first departure of the film takes place as Perseus’ mom dies (didn’t happen that way in myth or the original) and Pete and his family raise Perseus until, you know, he gets that higher calling.
From there on the stories really have little in common other than the general framework — the gods are pissed and they’re going to let the kracken out to go aggro on Argos (Joppa in the original) unless someone does something about it. They get the magnificent Polly Walker (Rome and now Caprica) and they kill her after about three lines. Perseus leaves with his band of droogs after a little encouragement from another demi-god named Io (hey, we know someone else’s name and it’s a hot Bond girl, Gemma Arterton). Perseus is out to avenge his human father, no saving the damsel this time, he doesn’t have a thing for Andromeda like Harry Hamlin did.
Then non-stop action takes place as they quickly dispatch one trial after the next and whittle the band of droogs down. You learn none of their names really even though they are about the only human element to the film. I’m completely serious you only hear their names a couple times and usually when they’re dying, “Eusebios!” Perseus utters as the stone head crumbles to the floor and you say to yourself “oh wow, that was that dude’s name.”
All in all a few things save this film from being completely mindless. Mads Mikkelsen, the Dane better known for previously playing Le Chiffre in the last two Bond films is great as the captain of the guard who heads up the droogs who head out with Perseus (he also gives Perseus a 2 minute sword lesson and immediately after Perseus nearly kills him, being a demi-god rules). I wouldn’t be surprised if he had the most lines in the film, he’s earnest and personable and quickly allows you to build some admiration for him with very little dialogue. His partner in crime, who I’ll be darned if you ever hear that character’s name in the film is played by Liam Cunningham, he gets all the jokes as a character called Solon apparently. The play between Mikkelsen and Cunningham is great and really livens things up and hits you on a human level. Aside from that you’ll find yourself grasping at a lot of names — those two funny dudes who come along (we don’t know who they are or where they came from but, by all means, come along with us and survive even), another sort of weird creature made out of scorpion hides and blue fire and one hot yet deadly looking Medusa and you have this film summed up.
Sure, there’s Liam Neeson as Zeus and Ralph Fiennes as Hades but there’s little for them to do except play it easy as two brothers in need of a serious intervention and some time to hug it out but that’s about it. Sam Worthington is buff and does a bit of fighting, he’s the reluctant hero we really don’t get invested in at all. You think he doesn’t care about anything until he starts to put the moves on Io on what turns into Charon’s fantasy pleasure death cruise ship of the River Styx apparently! Oh sure, the moment gets broken up but the gratuitous romance was thrown in. A completely forgettable performance from Worthington as far as I’m concerned.
The effects are pretty dang good, the girls are gorgeous and it moves along quickly and before you know it it’s over. If this film were a magazine it would be Maxim, what can I say. There is a nice tip of the hat to Harryhausen with Bobo the owl but he only makes a cameo. We also have two interesting “oh that’s where they are now” moments with Alexandar Siddig of Deep Space Nine fame as Hermes and Jane March (The Lover and Color of Night) as Hestia where she not only manages to not have sex with anybody, she keeps her clothes on as well! Well done, Jane!
Overall a relaxing piece of afternoon fun, I’d catch it at the matinée showing, definitely not worth paying full price for or just catch it on video. I wasn’t expecting a faithful remake, I was expecting it to stand on its own and it really doesn’t do that. But for the fame of the original I don’t see the appeal. Percy Jackson & the Olympians had a far better plot, action that was at least as good and actual characters. Your two coins for the boatman are far better spent there.