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Clash of the Titans 1 & 2

Clash of the Titans (April 5/10)

A marginal improvement over its 1981 inspiration, Clash of the Titans follows rugged demigod Perseus (Sam Worthington) as he embarks on a campaign of revenge after his family is murdered by Hades (Ralph Fiennes) - with Perseus' quest inevitably bringing him face to face with all manner of mythological creatures and figures (including the feared Kraken). Filmmaker Louis Leterrier does a nice job of immediately setting Clash of the Titans apart from its sporadically entertaining yet hopelessly underwhelming predecessor, as the director has hard-wired the familiar narrative with a gritty and downright dark visual sensibility that effectively erases all traces of the first film's decidedly campy atmosphere. Like the original, however, the movie has been infused with an episodic structure that effectively wreaks havoc on its momentum - with the almost equal mix of enthralling and needless interludes ensuring that one's interest tends to ebb and flow throughout the proceedings. It's consequently not surprising to note that the film is at its best in its action-oriented moments, as such sequences possess an over-the-top quality that inevitably proves impossible to resist (ie one can't help but get a kick out of, for example, the interlude in which Perseus and his men are forced to fight several building-sized scorpions). There's little doubt that the reliance on computer-generated effects, which will surely date the movie in the years to ahead, doesn't quite become the problem one might've expected until the finale, with the disorienting and flat-out overwhelming nature of Perseus' battle against the Kraken ensuring that the film concludes on a disappointingly anti-climactic note. Still, Clash of the Titans ultimately, as far as big-budget adventure movies go, comes off as a rather watchable endeavor that's best served by a viewing on as large a screen as possible.

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Wrath of the Titans (April 19/12)

A seriously underwhelming sequel, Wrath of the Titans follows Sam Worthington's Perseus as he's forced to once again battle mythical creatures after his father (Liam Neeson's Zeus) is kidnapped by the evil Hades (Ralph Fiennes) - with the film, for the most part, detailing the episodic exploits of Perseus and his cohorts (Toby Kebbell's Agenor, Rosamund Pike's Andromeda, and Bill Nighy's Hephaestus). Wrath of the Titans, generally speaking, comes off as a carbon-copy of its admittedly superior predecessor, as director Jonathan Liebesman, working from a script by Dan Mazeau and David Leslie Johnson, has infused the proceedings with a rambling feel that emphasizes stand-alone sequences over a coherent whole - which does, as expected, ensure that the movie tends to hold one's interest intermittently (ie certain sections are far more engaging than others). And while the film has been peppered with a handful of admittedly entertaining interludes (eg Perseus and company's encounter with a pair of menacing cyclops), Wrath of the Titans moves at an unconscionably sluggish pace that's exacerbated by an almost total lack of engrossing action sequences. Liebesman, along with cinematographer Ben Davis, employs a pervasively jittery sense of style that drains such moments of their energy and wreaks havoc on the film's tenuous momentum, with the decidedly endless feel that subsequently ensues growing more and more problematic in the build up to the over-the-top (yet surprisingly interminable) climax. The last minute, Austin Powers in Goldmember-like character shift does nothing to alleviate the viewer's crushing boredom, and it's ultimately impossible to label Wrath of the Titans as anything more than a cynical cash-grab designed to capitalize on the mild success of the first film.

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© David Nusair