Mythical Action-Adventure Sequel.
Starring: Sam Worthington, Rosamund Pike, Edgar Ramirez, Bill Nighy, Toby Kebball, Danny Huston, Sinead Cusack, Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes.
Running Time: 99 mins. approx.
Seen At: The Trafford Centre’s Odeon – in 3D.
On: Wednesday, 4th April, 2012.
Within a month of the release of John Carter, it’s most intriguing to see multiplexes adorned with another blockbusting mythical protagonist, mostly in the form of giant banners over balconies or massive pop-out extravaganzas. Aptly enough, this would dub very well as a strap-line in describing the film itself.
A sequel to 2010’s Clash Of The Titans which was very badly received, but I enjoyed it – perhaps not obtaining quite the full experience from Pay-Per-View in an Edinburgh hotel room!
Sam Worthington returns as Persius, now a father, having lost Gemma Arterton’s Io in unexplained circumstances. His father Zeus (Liam Neeson) has been captured by Hades and Ares, Persius’s brother. Our iron-clad hero also has to fight off all manner of incredibly sinister monsters, most notably one-on-one with a minotaur and a frenetic attack by a double-headed tentacled skeleton.
A vast advantage of using the tool of 3D where during the production stage, the film is specifically designed to accommodate certain sequences with its utilization in mind, is that the often used, much maligned post-conversion technique is replaced with a far more immersive experience.
Fantastically, that’s exactly the result. Beautifully photographed, richly-textured environments, are testament to absolutely exquisitely intricate production design, even more so than the first time around – and some of the most exhilarating action shot in very tactile, almost kinesthetic way. Swooping, panoramic cinematographic technique provide these amazing sets the best showcase possible, thanks to frequent three hundred and sixty-degree panning. Whether it’s a meteoric thud of a fireball, a tumbling rock, dusty crumbling of a disintegrated idol, slither of a serpent’s tongue or drops of boiling-hot lava, 3D is certainly being shown with some of its best use to date here. The visuals are extraordinary, particularly the cavernous, magmatic mountain battle two thirds of the way through. Refreshingly however, the aesthetic is actually present with the function of serving to push the narrative forward, as opposed to being showily demonstrative of extravagant flourish.
There’s a particularly disconcerting scene whereby a labyrinthine maze ensnares our heroes – stylistically this is mirrored by equally labyrinthine camera movements which are every bit as snake-like as the creature that trapped them there. I always admire a filmmaker who marries the thematic and visual together, into the same mixture.
Avatar and Terminator: Salvation’s Sam Worthington is an amazing talent, always such I reliable and relatable protagonistic screen presence I think. Charming, modest, heroic aside from obvious good-looks, his is a star that’s fast rising in Hollywood, and deservedly so.
Bond girl Rosamund Pike (Die Another Day’s Miranda Frost, as well as my personal favourite), unfortunately here isn’t given as much to do as Princess Andromeda – apart from in an appropriately stirring final act.
The film is completely stolen by Ralph Fiennes, as ever injecting his usual juxtaposition of relentless, imposing menace and measured, pronounced understatement. With Hades, as is the case with all of his many villainous creations from Voldermort to The Duchess’s Duke and Red Dragon to now Coriolanus, there an absolute embodiment into the skin of every terrifying role, some indeterminably rare quality from the pupils of his eyes to the tips of his toes. He’s the most quietly intimidating, shiver-inducing actor to play a villain ever, in my opinion.
Bill Nighy provides some wonderful comic relief despite the unusual accent, and the climactic dive into a direct eruption of a volcano is truly a feat to behold.
It was an unexpected surprise that I just happened to see John Carter and this consecutively – they’re impossibly impressive to choose between, for substance as well as style, and would make for a terrific double-bill.
Rating: * * * *