By Tim Posada, 4/05/2012
As “The Hunger Games” enjoys a second weekend on top, two fantasy films battle for second place. But competition between “Wrath of the Titans” and “Mirror Mirror” merely leaves a path to victory for other, better films.
“Wrath of the Titans”
Once more, Greek mythology graces the big screen with a lack of intrigue that tragically plagues such fantastic source material. The ill-advised sequel to 2010’s “Clash of the Titans,” redundantly titled “Wrath of the Titans,” vanquishes nothing, save its content. Homer doth stir in his grave.
God of the skies, Zeus (Liam Neeson), calls upon the legendary Perseus (Sam Worthington), defeater of the Kraken, to save the gods from extinction. Many moons have passed since the children of Olympus worshipped their makers, and as the gods turn to dust (rather literally), so too does the barrier surrounding Tartarus, the mighty prison that plays host to the Titans.
The greatest of the gods — Zeus, Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Poseidon (Danny Huston) — unite one last time to ensure their father, the Titan Kronos, will never walk Earth again. But betrayal and conspiracy foil the noblest of plans, and Perseus — now, humankind’s last hope — must battle a Chimera, a Minotaur and two Cyclopes on his journey into the underworld, to unchain (again, rather literally) his father, Zeus, and defeat yet another CGI villain. For a film with such a lofty title, “Wrath of the Titans” dwells in the mortal realm more than that of the eternal.
The cinematic stories of Zeus and his fold appear fated to remain child’s play when they should be songs of great wars, climaxing in unprecedented clashes of Titans. Alas, such is a far cry from this minimalist endeavor where less interesting humans dominate the story. If these battles are to truly make the gods proud, they must center on the gods and provide Perseus with more than a sword and pegasus. The gods can do little but weep in the presence of yet another uninspired film about their rule over the physical and supernatural planes.
As for bringing a Titan to life, Kronos’ ascent from Tartarus proves an unfortunate occurrence similar to the planet eating Galacuts’ appearance in “Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer”. A Titan must be more than magma and ash in bodily form, or else he becomes a voiceless nemesis whose awakening feels more like a dull sword than the sharpness of Zeus’ lightening bolt.
In short, the gods doth curse such mournful fair for the impropriety of sacrilegious crafters. Save the splendor of grandiose scenery, this tale is a woe of tragedy not a legend of immortals. Or in the common tongue, “It sucks.”
Last year, director Tarsem Singh brought forth his vision of the gods in “Immortals”, in another tale where the Titans escape Tartarus. Moving on from those fickle gods, Singh reinvents the story of a young princess, Snow White (Lily Collins), and the Evil Queen (Julia Roberts), who desires to be “the fairest of the them all” at any cost. “Mirror Mirror” may update the classic story, but this is a confused film that’s too silly for adults and too unadventurous for children.
Far from a remake, “Mirror Mirror” re-imagines Snow White as a princess-turned-bandit attempting to thwart the Queen and reclaim her birthright, the kingdom. She is no damsel in distress once her fellow bandits, the seven dwarves, teach her how to fight and steal. Moving even farther away from the classic cartoon, the dwarves don’t have names like Sleepy and Grumpy, but Napoleon and Grimm.
“Mirror Mirror” relies heavily on commedia dell’arte-style performances that only Nathan Lane, as Brighton, and Roberts, as the Queen, effectively execute. By film’s end, most of the characters feel more exhausting than memorable. The seven dwarves, in particular, are a lost opportunity as their playful banter digresses into utter triviality rather than the attempted humor.
Singh is known for detailed costumes, lavish sets and an affinity for a gold color scheme. If only he placed equal emphasis on directing actors and revising a shoddy script. There’s potential in the shadow of this film, not what actually makes its way to the big screen.
Fantasy stories are on the rise –– especially “Snow White”. The television series “Once Upon a Time” provides a far more compelling depiction of “Snow White,” and Kristen Stewart (good ol’ Bella from “Twilight”) is set to try out the role in “Snow White and the Huntsman” this summer. So far, we have a 50 percent score. Until then, “Mirror Mirror” has nothing new to offer other than quaint visuals that aren’t worth the price of admission.
At the Movies this Weekend:
American Reunion, R
Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope, PG-13
Damsels in Distress, PG-13
She Wants Me, NR