Culture Wrath (Wrath of the Titans, 2012)

Wrath_of_the_Titans_PosterWrath of the Titans tries to rectify the one thing missing from Clash of the Titans.  Titans.  In the original Clash, the Kraken was a Titan, but in the 2010 film, this was a bit clear.  Wrath opens with the story of how Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades defeated their father Kronos and imprisoned him in the underworld.  It also reminds us that Zeus and Poseidon had conned Hades by binding him to the Underworld.

Perseus and Io were living the quiet life in a fishermans’ village.  Io bore them a son, Helius and then died before the movie started. Gemma Arterton was unable to return to the film and so she was killed off.  This would seem at least understandable until you find that they recast Andromeda with the blonde Rosamund Pike. But anyways, Helius desires to be a warrior, a life which Perseus is aggressively trying to keep him from.

Zeus reveals that he visits Helius in the boy’s dreams, but wishes Perseus would be more open to accepting their status as demigods.  Meanwhile, Hades and Ares are conspiring against the other gods, tempted by Kronos.  They get the jump on Poseidon and Zeus, stealing Zeus’ lightning bolt.  Poseidon is mortally wounded, but escapes and passes his trident to Perseus. He tells Perseus to find his son, the demigod Agenor. He finds Andromeda, who is now a warrior Queen leading her army.  They are aware things are afoot, as monsters have started to burst forth from the ground.  They also have Agenor (who is basically the Greek god equivalent of Russell Brand) as a prisoner.

The three take some warriors with them to go on a mission to rescue Zeus and stop Hades from freeing Kronos. To do this, they travel to find Hephaestus for a way into the underworld. After a fight with Hades, Perseus, Andromeda, and Agenor escape into the ever-shifting labyrinth that will lead to the Underworld.

This film muddles it’s the previous stand against the gods, with Perseus having appeared to soften his feelings towards them. The film is full of nods to Greek myths, such as the Minotaur in the Labyrinth, chimera and so on.  It also has easter eggs like the mechanical owl Bubo in a cameo (which occurred in the 2010 film as well) who is quickly laughed off. But everything feels so randomly chosen and leaves out some great character concepts from the original myths. And if the gods were largely missing in the original film, this one makes it all the worse by having the majority of the gods killed off-screen.

In fact, the film seems dedicated to destroying any further franchise potential by basically erasing the gods from existence. I would say this film is not a worthy successor to the 2010 Clash of the Titans, but then, that film was not impressive either.

The truth is, I wanted both of these films to be great, but they are so largely cynical of their source material, they lack the joy a good fantasy film can contain.  They are all about the big effects, leaving little room for actual character.  Sure, they try for heft in the notion of Hades and Zeus mending their relationship.  And then there is Perseus finding love with Andromeda.  Yet, these plotlines feel forced and a bit hollow.

It Ain’t Easy Being Green (Green Lantern, 2011)

green-lantern-movie-posterTwo years before the Man of Steel, Warner Brothers had an opportunity to start building their cinematic universe.  In simple ways, they could have started building.  Hints of a bigger universe…start introducing characters who could cross the films.  I have talked about the missed opportunity before.

The film introduces us first to the ancient evil Parallax trapped by the powerful Green Lantern Abin Sur.  When some unfortunate astronauts stumble into his prison, he uses their fear to free himself and pursue Abin Sur.  This results in Sur crash landing on earth and his magic ring seeking a worthy person.  It chooses carefree pilot Hal Jordan.  When he is dragged into space he is trained in the ways of Space Copping by Sinestro, Tomar-Re and Kilowog.  Sinestro is dismissive of Jordan, thinking he is unworthy of being a part of the core.  Tomar-Re and Kilowog are less certain.  Hal returns to earth and tries to patch things up with Carol Ferris, a fellow pilot and daughter of the guy who owns Ferris Industries.  Both are not noticing the changes occurring their friend Hector Hammond, who was infected by Parallax.

There is a final grand battle where Hal Jordan vanquishes Parallax into the sun all by himself.  Note, Sinestro took a squadron of the finest Lanterns with him and they were all destroyed in seconds.  The film also has a voice over from Tomar-Re declaring Hal the best Green Lantern ever!  This is not a particularly good way to end the first film in a franchise.  It clearly was not meant to be the only film in the series based on the end credits scene.

Characters appear that have no place and are used very poorly, such as Amanda Waller, who resembles he namesake not one bit.  Using a universe ending villain in your first story pretty much means you have nowhere left to go.  No other villain is going to feel like such a large threat after that.

Reynolds is rather charming, but ironically, he and Blake Lively have no onscreen chemistry in the film.  The characters are bland, and how Hal uses the ring are not terrible imaginative (He makes a car! A jet plane! A Gatling Gun!).  The effect are decent, but not really memorable.  Maybe I hoped for better from the director of Casino Royal.  But this film missed the mark on many levels and failed to take the opportunity to start building the franchise they wanted.  Which I guess is all the better for Deadpool.

Green Flashes

Greenlantern+New+Film+PosterI had not paid attention to this before…but I realized this week, some of the same people that gave us the Ryan Reynold’s Green Lantern brought us Arrow, Flash, Supergirl.  This includes Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim.  And I have to say, in some ways it is very obvious.

The film draws heavily on characters from the comics, though sometimes to poor effect.  Amanda Waller, for example.  She is simply a scientist named Amanda Waller.  That is supposed to a cool Easter Egg for fans.  But aside from getting her race correct, the film gives us an uninteresting scientist…not the Wall.

Based on the Flash?  This would seem mystifying.  The Flash does Easter Eggs extremely well.  Except, there is also Arrow.  Arrow is problematic most of the time.  Relying all too much on Flashbacks and a darker tone than appropriate for the Green Arrow…it has gotten by on a likable cast.  But from the first season, it was incredibly obvious that the creators of Arrow did not want to make a Green Arrow show, but a Batman show.  They just could not get the greenlight for it.  The same thing happened on Smallville.

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And we see the same problems in 2011’s Green Lantern.  There are some great things in the film.  Marc Strong’s performance as Sinestro stands out.  However, the film was designed to kick off a franchise.  And yet, it makes Hal Jordan’s first fight against a universe sized threat.  Where do you go from that?  Instead of keeping it small, allowing Hal to save the planet, rather save the entire universe right away.

There are no other future Lanterns introduced.  I mean, seriously, you want an Easter Egg?  Introduce John Stewart in the film(He was cut from the script).

In addition, when this film came out, Marvel was only a year away from the hotly anticipated Avengers.  DC and the WB had a very prime opportunity to start building that shared universe they desperately wanted.  The script even considered showing Clark Kent in a brief cameo as a candidate for the ring and the film has a sign for Central City.  It was cut on the idea of not relying on other heroes.  So, we ended up with a closed universe.  This could have opened the door and with a better setup than we got from Man of Steel.

I was disappointed, in the end, with Green Lantern because it falls short all to easily.  Seeing what Berlanti and Guggenheim have pulled off on the Flash makes me wonder how much involvement they had in the final product.

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