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Hey Zeus, Meet Jesus: Wrath of the Titans & Judeo-Christian Archetypes…

Somewhere, an expert on Ancient Greek mythology is crying. Probably a lot of experts on Ancient Greek culture. As enjoyable as Wrath of the Titans might be in offering charming (if a little shallow) spectacle, it doesn’t necessarily offer the most faithful depiction of Ancient Greek deities. It isn’t the only film to get things drastically wrong – Disney’s Hercules comes to mind. Presenting these mythical characters and creatures for modern audiences and sensibilities, the archetypes are skewed and twisted to conform to religious associations which most audience members might find familiar. In particular, these sorts of films often adopt a decidedly Judeo-Christian view of Ancient Greek gods. However, watching Wrath of the Titans, I couldn’t help but feel that the film was not only acutely aware of that narrative shortcut, but perhaps even cleverly exploiting it – developing the character arc of these ancient gods and transitioning them into the archetypes that we know and recognise.

Oh my gods...

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Non-Review Review: Wrath of the Titans

Wrath of the Titans is effective spectacle, and certainly nothing less. It offers a large-scale canvas for director Jonathan Liebesman to offer us large-scale set pieces involving lots of mythical monsters, tonnes of fire and some decent action sequences. I’m one of the few people who enjoyed Clash of the Titans for what it was, and Wrath of the Titans isn’t an especially different beast. It offers the same level and quality of sound and fury helping distract from some storytelling problems. There are, of course, differences between the two films, both nothing especially drastic. While I wasn’t always engaged with the film, I did enjoy for what it was.

Giving the old man some stick...

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Non-Review Review: Clash of the Titans

It has been a couple of years since the last proper swords-and-sandals epic. It’s hard to look past the glossy stylised design of 300 and the discussions of racial politics which surrounded it. Troy and Alexander were hardly solid examples of the genre which had been at the height of its popularity more than half a century ago. Aside from Gladiator, it’s hard to point to another big screen classical action movie that manages to do what it says on the tin. Although it’s a long way from perfect, Clash of the Titans at least delivers the intriguing visuals and impressive action that one expects from the genre. I was pleasantly surprised. 

A friendship in ruins...

 

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The Day That 2D Died…

I’m not going to bore you with another 3D post. In short, my opinion is thus: I’m not outright against it, but recognise it is a cynical money-making plow that has yet to really add anything to any movie (with the possible exception of Avatar). I just noticed something today which indicates we may have hit the tipping point. And it isn’t the news of an Oscar-baiting drama like Precious being rendered in 3D like I thought it might be. It’s the fact that Clash of the Titans is being advertised as “also in 2D”. It’s in small print in all the ads, but it seems to suggest that the standard movie-viewing experience has now become the smaller, optional one. Something for the cinema-completest rather than the default way of viewing the film. I remember not even last year when rendering a movie in 3D was a selling point of itself, a quirk. Now it appears that we should be treating it as standard for these films, with the 2D screenings being essentially sideshows and extras.

Some would rather stare at Medusa's face than watch the satndard 2D version...

I’m fairly sure that Avatar may have used the same “also available in 2D” line, but there’s a huge difference between Avatar and Clash of the Titans. It might not seem much (in fact, it likely seems very little), but this I think this may be the moment that the impact of 3D has truly sunk in for me, with 2D screenings now being a curiousity and an afterthought, with 3D the norm rather than a bonus.

Three Dimensions of Drama?

Hmm… Last year I wasn’t so sure about 3D being the future of movie-making that everyone was lauding it it to be. And, being honest, part of me is still on the fence. The two biggests revolutions in the distribution of popular cinema have been the advent of sound and the introduction of consistent and effective colour. Home media is probably third, but that’s probably not what the major studios want to hear as they attempt to milk every possible cent out of the big screen in this era of pirated movies and downloads and such. Avatar pretty much knocked the digital 3D thing out of the park and demonstrated that the concept had a life beyond kids flicks like Coraline and Monsters vs. Aliens (the only time I mention those two together, I promise) and horror flicks like My Bloody Valentine and The Final Destination. James Cameron has taken what Alfred Hitchock memorably derided as a seven-day fad and made it matinee fare. And, of course, Hollywood has noticed. Clash of the Titans, one of the early summer blockbusters this year, is being reworked into 3D before release – probably as a direct result of Avatar’s success. Still, if 3D is to be as huge a game changer as colour or sound was, it needs to become the norm for films produced – it needs to become dominant. So when we are we going to see 3D prestige pieces?

The way things are meant to 3D?

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Growing Old in Hollywood…

Is it possible for an actor to age gracefully? The Guardian has been very fruitful in providing food for thought this week and the article that grabbed my attention today is a discussion of Heath Ledger’s potential had his life not been cut so tragically short. I don’t intend to dwell on what could have, should have or would have been, but the article does raise some interesting assertions about the ageing of great actors:

If you want to propose Pacino, De Niro and Nicholson as the outstanding figures of the 70s and 80s, who can be resigned about what has happened to them? They have become pastiches of what they once were.

So, is that what really awaits our truly great actors at the end of their careers?

Grumpy - but cool - old men...

Grumpy - but cool - old men...

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