Much like its Greek mythological source material Wrath of the Titans is light on dramatic characterization sticking to blunt moral lessons and fantastical battles to tell its epic tale. That's perfectly acceptable for its 100 minute run time in which director Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles) unleashes an eclectic hoard of monsters upon his gruff demigod hero Perseus. The creature design is jagged gnarly and exaggerated not unlike a twelve-year-old's sugar high-induced crayon creations — which is perfect as Wrath is tailor made to entertain and enamor that slice of the population.
Clash of the Titans star Sam Worthington once again slips on the sandals to take on a not-quite-based-on-a-myth adventure a mission that pits Perseus against the greatest force in the universe: Kronos formally-incarcerated father of the Gods. A few years after his last adventure Perseus is grieving for his deceased wife and caring for their lone son but a visit from Zeus (Liam Neeson) alerts the warrior to a task even more urgent than his current seabass fishing gig. Irked that the whole Kraken thing didn't work out Hades (Ralph Fiennes) with the help of Zeus' disaffected son Ares (Edgar Ramirez) is preparing to unleash Kronos — and only Perseus has the required machismo to stop him. But Perseus enjoys the simple life and brushes off Zeus forcing the head deity to take matters into his own hands…just as Hades and Ares planned. The diabolical duo capture Zeus and having no one else to turn to Perseus proceeds into battle.
The actual reasoning for all the goings on in Wrath of the Titans tend to drift into the mystical realm of convolution but the ensemble and Liebesman's visual visceral directing techniques keep the messy script speeding along. As soon as one starts wondering why Perseus would ever need to hook up with battle-ready Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) or Poseiden's navigator son Agenor (Toby Kebbell) Liebesman and writers Dan Mazeu and David Johnson throw in another bombastic set piece another three-headed four-armed 10 000-fanged monstrosity on screen. Perseus' journey pits him against a fire-breathing Chimera a set of Cyclopses a shifting labyrinth (complete with Minotaur) and all the dangers that come with Hell itself. The sequences have all the suspense of an action figure sandbox brawl but on a towering IMAX screen they're geeky fun. If only the filler material was a bit more logical and interesting the final product would be the slightest bit memorable.
Liebesman reaps the best performances he possibly can from Wrath's silly formula Worthington again proves himself a charismatic underrated leading man. As the main trio of Gods Neeson Fiennes and Ramirez completely acknowledge how goofy shooting lightning bolts out of their hands must look on screen but they own it with campy fun tones. But the film's overwhelming CG spectacle suffocates the glimmer of great acting opting for slice-and-dice battle scenes over ridiculous (and fun) epic speak nonsense. If a movie has Liam Neeson as the top God it shouldn't chain him up in molten lava shackles for a majority of the time.
Wrath of the Titans is a non-offensive superhero movie treatment of classic heroes that feels more like an exercise in 3D monster modeling than filmmaking. Its 3D makeover never helps the creatures or Perseus pop turning Wrath into an even muddier affair than the single-planed alternative (although unlike Clash of the Titans you won't have 3D shaky-cam blur burned directly into your retinas). The movie reaches for that child sense of wonderment but instead cranks out a picture that may not even hold a child's attention.
Rest assured, X-philes. Conspiracy theories, paranormal activities, unexplained phenomena -- the stuff that keeps Mulder, Sculley, and "X-Files" fanatics going -- are about to find another outlet on network TV.
While the fate of the popular Fox sci-fier is still up in the air, the network is officially rolling out plans to keep the spirit of paranoia alive in another form. So who's in charge of picking up the truth-seeking torch? Three subterranean computer geeks irregularly showcased on the sci-fi series, known as the Lone Gunmen (a k a actors Bruce Harwood , Tom Braidwood and Dean Haglund).
Top honchos at Fox confirmed on Thursday that a pilot for an "X-Files" spin-off, featuring the conspiracy-obsessed trio, has been given the go-ahead. The show's being considered for the 2000-2001 prime-time season.
Created by "X-Files" architect Chris Carter and series behind-the-sceners Frank Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan and John Shiban, the offshoot is said to be a light drama with an aura of quirkiness. And even though the tenuous romance angle à la Mulder and Sculley won't be reproduced, the show will reportedly introduce similar sexual tension in the form of a competing female conspiracy theorist whom the Lone Gunmen lust after -- and resent.
In the midst of all the hubbub surrounding the spin-off, someone from the Fox and Carter camp apparently forgot to notify the Gunmen themselves. Dean Haglund, the guy with the long-hair heavy-metal do who plays Langley, took his head-scratching confusion to The Lone Gunmen fansite (http://www.deanx.com/buzz.htm) when he heard words of a "X-Files" spin-off in which he, and his other two cohorts, are tapped to be the leads. He wrote:
"I'm sure that many of you now have read about the Television Critics Association's (Hence known as the TCA) afternoon session with the heads of Fox television where they announced that Chris Carter was planning a spin-off of the lone Gunmen.
"... Anyway, we are at this thing and we have to work later that night so we have to leave early but, basically, everyone crowds around the three of us and asked us about the spin off. Now there has been a half joking rumor about this for the longest time so it was with reflex action that we all spoke to the press telling them that there was nothing to it. Then they said that the President of Fox just said so."
No word yet if Haglund and his crew are working on some sort of elaborate conspiracy theory regarding what the Lone Gunmen might call the spin-off cover-up.
Let's hear it for the old guy who in this movie comes off sexier than his buff young accomplice (Dermot Mulroney). OK the old guy happens to be the gracefully aging icon Paul Newman -- as a feisty heistmeister who dodges a long prison sentence and then teams up with his equally conniving rest-home nurse (Linda Fiorentino) on a bank job gone wrong. "Where the Money Is" is breezy suspenseful and as much a love story as anything else -- if you call mentoring a new life in crime a kind of love. The mission-improbable caper is no more or less entertaining than a "Rockford Files" rerun but the film's swerving joyride takes its real thrills from the great escape that Fiorentino's Bonnie Parker makes from a dead-end life in the married lane.
Newman still hasn't lost it and as Henry Manning he doesn't miss any nuances in the edgy balance between streetwise wariness and amiable rapport with his sultry new colleague. The steam-powered Fiorentino has forged her career by making danger look casual and this is her most alluring work since "The Last Seduction" added another zero to her salary. Her chemistry with Newman a flirty twist on the idea of honor among thieves is really what makes this movie worth seeing. Mulroney is serviceable as the dim but lovable hubby a supporting role that's more foil than fully etched character.
We can all thank director Marek Kanievska for deciding not to have the May-December duo end up in the sack and leaving them simply professional cohorts. The director's admirable sense of comic timing works all the better by not letting the laughs get in the way of his leads' exploration of their characters -- although there's no denying the limits of this frothy genre. Perhaps Kanievska's greatest feat here is allowing Newman to retain his dignity in close-up.