Thursday, June 28, 2012

Clash of the Titans & Wrath of the Titans

Both Clash of the Titans and Wrath of the Titans are part of two evil master plans of movie entertainment these days: 1) Endless, endless remakes. 2) The ongoing violation of ancient mythologies. These movies are essentially the Transformers of the sword-and-sandals mythical world, in terms of ridiculously over-the-top massive battles against titanic monsters. CGI artists compete with each other to see who can regurgitate the most absurd shit you've ever seen in a movie. Hell, in Clash, we even get a montage of our heroes casually riding gigantic scorpions through vast volcanic wastelands.

Pseudo-Interesting Concept meets Action Movie Clusterf***

I got a little bit interested at the start of Clash of the Titans. Just a little. It seemed to promise an interesting plot where humans fight against Greek gods in an effort to realize their own free will. I allowed myself a small flicker of hope that this could turn into an intriguing look at how the Greek gods are essentially humans themselves, just on a grander scale. After all, the Greek gods were always motivated by petty jealousies, a thirst for glory, and all sorts of drives, just like us. I looked forward to some scene at the end where humans faced gods and realized that they weren't so different after all. Another thing I thought about is that there's a reason the Greek gods are no longer worshiped; they are too similar to us, and humanity seems to enjoy worshiping figures who are so idealized as to be beyond comprehension. There could've been some interesting play on how the Greek gods of old were slowly replaced by the hope and inner spirituality of the new...

But why hope? Hah! Fact of the matter is that these two movies like to bring up interesting possibilities and then ignore them. Not to mention stomp over accuracy to original Greek myths. I've always found it quite puzzling how not a single movie is true to the Greek mythological tales. It isn't like they are lacking in exotic adventures or empty of gripping excitement. Despite this, movie-makers seem to jump at the possibility of twisting the mythology in one weird way or another.

One WTF moment after another... (AKA – Nitpick Central)

Why is the kraken, a creature of Norse myth, in the first movie? Why are the djinn, from Arabic myth? Okay, let me stop myself. Let's just forget about silly things like this and just focus on the continuity the movie created for us...

So apparently the kraken was powerful enough to take on the Titans by itself. It's like a big doggy for the gods. Isn't it a huge degree of overkill to send it against cities of humans completely unable to defend themselves from it? And, if there was any degree of actual danger (remember: they are operating from the perspective that Perseus is not a factor), why would you risk your ONE weapon capable of keeping the Titans contained? Their idiocy is the only reason the second movie's threat of Kronos' (the head Titan) release is real. Why not just let Hades kill the relevant important people? He didn't seem to have much trouble on his own. And, lastly, why the hell does Zeus send monsters after the humans while simultaneously giving swords and goodies to Perseus so he can fight said monsters? Does he have multiple personality disorder or something?

On the bright side, the second movie, Wrath of the Titans, has less WTF moments. But there is the huge whopper of why in the hell would Hades and Ares think releasing Kronos is a good idea? This is the father of the gods, the head Titan, infamous for eating his own children. The idea that he would spare any of them is so patently absurd that Zeus spends most of his time in captivity laughing at how stupid they are, making him a great audience stand-in.

Although, that reminds me, why are the gods so damned useless? Zeus gets captured by gargoyle monkeys who appear to take him and Poseidon down with hurled globs of flaming diarrhea. For that matter, where are all the rest of the gods in Wrath of the Titans? In Clash, we see the entire pantheon lording over the world. Also, it seems like Zeus did some extremely poor planning in turning to Perseus literally the day before shit started going bad.

Aaagh! Enough nitpicking!

Awesome or Failsauce?

Meticulous analysis aside, the real question is: are these movies entertaining and gripping? I'd say yes to the entertaining part and only occasionally to the gripping part. It's hard not to get a little bit of glee out of guys with godlike powers smacking the shit out of monsters and each other. In this, the second movie takes the win because it just feels like the stakes are through the roof. We're talking an armageddon of sorts, for humans and gods alike, and so it's easier to get into what's going on, not to mention the fact that the battles are more intense.

As for gripping, there was only one part of each movie which really held my attention. In the first movie, it was the moment we first see Hades, as he slays the soldiers who destroyed the Statue of Zeus. In the second, it was Perseus' nightmare of Kronos annihilating whole armies that were completely unable to stop him. It was moments like these that had me actually appreciating the scope and difference between humans and godlike entities. It's just too bad that such moments were far and few between.


All in all, silly as they are, I suppose I can say that I did enjoy these movies. They could be so much better if only they gave them to a rational writer and a director more attuned to character moments and less CGI-entranced. But, still, it's a treat of sorts to see the various actors cheese it up and a number of minor characters are memorable enough to prevent one's eyes from glazing over. I'm not sure if that actually counts as a recommendation, per se, but it is what it is.

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