So once again we have survived.

Wrath of the Titans

tn_wrathofthetitans10 years after the titans clashed, Zeus (Liam Neeson, NEXT OF KIN) and Hades (Ralph Fiennes, STRANGE DAYS) are about to feel their wrath. See, they’ve had their asshole dad Kronos imprisoned in the underworld forever, but with humans not praying to them they’re losing the power to contain him, and Ares (Edgar Ramirez) and some of their other kids are conspiring to set the old man free. And when he gets out he’s gonna get his revenge.

I should mention that Kronos is not a man, he’s a giant lava monster that makes the Kraken from part 1 look like a shrimp. So by “get his revenge” I basically just mean that he’s gonna walk around and stuff is gonna get destroyed. In fact Zeus and Hades don’t seem as bad now that I realize the type of family they grew up in. I’m sure even during peace time Kronos is constantly “getting revenge,” unless there is some sort of all-lava-monster community he can go to. If he’s expected to integrate with the mortals or even the Olympians there’s always gonna be a size and heat difference that’s gonna be problematic.

I guess when you’re making a sequel to a movie most people didn’t like it’s probly smart to switch things up a bit. Too bad I was the guy that did like the first one. Most of what I liked about CLASH OF THE TITANS ’10 does not apply to part 2.

For starters: the tone. Gone is the upbeat sense of macho fun. Now, like every other god damn movie, it’s all dour and pouty. The end of the world is coming, let’s all grimace and wait for it to happen. Perseus (Sam Worthington), who was so fearless and ready for action before, is now world-weary and out-of-practice. He has a dead wife and a son and he promised the dead wife not to let the son pick up a sword. So it’s another one of those movies where the characters are trying to prevent the thing that the audience wants to see from the beginning. (And if you want peace for the characters then it’s kind of weird because SPOILER the dad violating his dead wife’s wishes and plunging their son into a life of combat is treated as a happy ending. And he doesn’t even get a Bubo.)

They did let him just use his Australian accent, which I’m in favor of. But the character’s not as fun to watch in this one. I miss the Perseus who said “let’s ask him!” when somebody questioned who the monster was who just attacked him, who believes in saying “thank you” to demonic sorcerers, and recruiting them for his team. In this one he can’t even ride Pegasus right, he’s all wobbly and people laugh at him.

mp_wrathofthetitansThe weird complexities of the world that were so interesting to me in part 1? Nah, don’t worry about those. Zeus is just a good guy now, so forget about how he raped Perseus’s mom and all that.  Just pretend he’s Gandalf. He doesn’t shapeshift either, because he loses his powers and gets chained up for most of the movie. I guess his beard turns white, that’s about it.

Seems like it would be a good source of drama that Perseus has to save his father who he’s still not cool with. It could’ve been “I don’t want anything to do with that bastard, but I’ll do it to save the world, and reluctantly start to come to terms with the fact that that asshole is my father” but instead they go for “I have to save my father!”

The different factions of humans who disagreed about how to deal with the gods, that’s not really happening anymore, humans just fight against whatever monsters fall from the sky. It’s a simpler time now I guess. But less interesting.

The new simplicity is good news for the ladies, though. I think they’ve made progress in this society. Nobody gets raped, and Andromeda, who spent part 1 tied up on a cliff for a sacrifice, is now an ass-kicking warrior queen and equal partner to Perseus.

We don’t see the Djinn. There are some cyclopses, which is cool, but because they’re giant they can’t really be integrated into society, and leave the story faster than the Yetis in THE MUMMY 3. So it’s mostly regular humanoids you’re looking at. I think there are 3 other monster scenes: a ferocious bat-like update of (I think) the 2-headed dog from the original ’81 version, some giant spinning Siamese twin guys, and Kronos, whose skin looks like embers and he’s so giant he lives in slow motion.

These are outstanding monsters, and at least Kronos is big enough that they mostly have to show him from far away. He gets to smash a little bit longer than the Kraken did, or at least he spends longer walking toward the place where he’s gonna smash. So it didn’t really matter that the movie was lackin kraken.

But for a sequel to a remake of a monster showcase they sure don’t seem interested in showcasing their monsters. Perseus has a bloody knock down drag out fight with the bat monster and it’s the highlight of the movie, but it’s frustratingly post-action. For fuck’s sake, I can’t believe we’re at a point in cinema history where I have to complain about this even in a CLASH OF THE TITANS movie. While CLASH had some very careful and effective uses of handheld camera this one tries to go full on SAVING-PRIVATE-RYAN-Omaha-Beach-sequence at times, minus the careful attention to communicating geography. I guess it’s supposed to put you right into the action, subconsciously remind you of one of those old postconverted 3D Imax newsreels from Ancient Greece. You see it just how the combat stonecarvers would’ve seen it.

With the monsters so obscured there’s no way to really know if they have that Ray Harryhausen type of personality to them. I know there’s this whole school of “it’s better left up to your imagination,” but isn’t that approach against the spirit of the original CLASH? I guarantee you that if Harryhausen had done the Medusa scene in this style – the camera whips around but has a hard time keeping up with her, she hides behind a pole, the camera keeps getting bumped, when it shows her it’s real closeup so you don’t see that much of her – there would be no WRATH OF THE TITANS because there would be no CLASH OF THE TITANS remake because what the fuck is a CLASH OF THE TITANS, I never heard of it, did that even get released? Oh yeah, I just looked it up, it was an obscure Harry Hamlin movie with a brief glimpse of some animated snakes and a dog.

You know, come to think of it, even if they had a handheld camera in ancient Greece and used it to make documentary footage of Perseus battling the bat dog guy, you bet your ass they’d use a magic spell to hold the camera steady and frame the shots well. So there is no part of this visual language that makes sense. This piracy thing really has hit the industry hard. I’m gonna start a charity that buys tripods for impoverished Hollywood studios.

In between the glimpses of monsters we’ve got some good actors trying to talk like gods and demigods. No judgment on this one, but some of the casting has changed: Andromeda is now Rosamund Pike instead of Alexa Davalos and Ares is Edgar Ramirez instead of Tamer Hassan. Pike has a good tough-lady presence. Ramirez is good casting, but he doesn’t get anything memorable to do, or find memorable ways to do it. Danny Huston does return as Poseidon, who doesn’t get his entire part cut out this time. Bubo has another cameo where he doesn’t move.

The major new characters are Bill Nighy as Hephaestus (played as funny crazy old guy who helps them, like John Hurt in CRYSTAL SKULL) and Toby Kebbell as Agenor, who is kind of the comic relief character. I was happy to discover that yes, that is the retarded brother from DEAD MAN’S SHOES. I didn’t know he’d turned into a big time actor since then. I didn’t think he was very funny in this, though.
The director is Jonathan Liebesman (BATTLE L.A.) replacing part 1’s Louis Letterier. Sometimes when I keep saying negative things about somebody’s movies I feel bad about it and I’ll throw in a “I’m sure he’s a nice guy.” In the case of Liebesman I really am sure he’s a nice guy. Hopefully this isn’t telling tales out of school, but when he read my negative review of his TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE remake prequel he sent me a really humble and complimentary email about it. He mentioned working on another movie and said “Don’t worry, it’s not FRIDAY THE 13TH” because at the time I was annoyed that Michael Bay’s company was gonna remake that. Later I heard from another source that Liebesman had turned down bigger and bigger offers to do FRIDAY THE 13TH because he was more excited to do this low budget indie movie called THE KILLING ROOM. Platinum Dunes just kept throwing more money at him and couldn’t compute why he wouldn’t take it.

So I really respect him for that, but I guess I just don’t get into this gloomy vibe of his. His movie that I most enjoyed was BATTLE L.A., because of its sincere rah-rah spirit, and the ending where SPOILER the soldiers insist on going right back into the fray instead of accepting their well-earned rest time. But that had a worse (if more thematically appropriate) problem than WRATH with using “realistic” camerawork as an excuse to deprive the audience of action and monsters.

Most other reviewers seem to like WRATH a little better than the first one. I wish I did too. I will say that it has a nice look to it, pretty different from the first one. And I hope you know I’ve always been pro lava monster.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Saturday, March 31st, 2012 at 2:36 pm and is filed under Fantasy/Swords, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

66 Responses to “Wrath of the Titans”

  1. We should really get that tripod charity thing going, it’s a great cause

  2. Someone should start a kickstarter.

  3. boy, they’re really ripping off God of War for this one it seems

  4. also Vern, is it me or is this the quickest you’ve reviewed a theatrical movie?

  5. Well, who isn’t pro-lava monster? Even the people getting attacked are probably all, “Hey, cool! A lava monster! Oh, yeah. Run for your lives!”

  6. Yeah I had the vibe this one wasn’t going to have the charm of the original as soon as Worthington started bad-mouthing the first one in interviews, talking about how this one was going to be better, they were going to start listening to more fan suggestions from the internet(!), etc.. I don’t mind pandering to the fans too often, but it really did rub me the wrong way as someone who loved the first one.

    2nd bad sign was Leibsman. The Battle:LA trailer was fantastic, but i can’t believe how uninvolving and unexciting the movie itself was. It was the loudest, busiest boring movie I’ve ever seen, and it actually made me wish Michael Bay directed it. Plus the ending was better when I saw it in SWAT (didn’t Michelle Rodriguez notice she was doing the exact same thing at the end of both movies?) and The Hurt Locker (with SWAT’s villain!)

  7. Hmmmmm. I suppose I’ll rewatch my copy of the first one and then go see this. I did like Clash ’10 quite a bit though so I hope I manage to stay more entertained then Vern, although I admit I’m over the whole ‘dark, gritty’ take on shit. It was ok when Batman Begins did it, but it seems like every fucking property now has to be given a makeover to make it more depressing and broody and ’emotionally motivated’. It hardly ever works and it just bums me out. I don’t go to a movie like Wrath of the Titans to be brought down. Give me FUN! Bright, colorful, infectious, fun.

  8. that lava monster Kronos thing was totally bad ass. Like a Danzig album cover come to life. He was all like “i’m throwing lava in slo-mo!” and shit. tight.

  9. screw you lava lovers

    FREE BUBO!

  10. I’m pretty sure Vern’s had reviews up by Friday night before.

    So sick of the downbeat mopey action movies. I blame the BOURNE movies. Yeah it was interesting to see a spy who wasnt having fun like James Bond but don’t mistake humorless for drama. Hello, John McClane, Indiana Jones, even the darker original Lethal Weapon.

    I can vouch for GUY PEARCE IN SPACE. It’s really fun and silly, but then it was made by Frenchies. I always applaud the most ridiculous ones like Shoot EM Up and Hong Kong movies.

    I knew Liebesman’s plan was for post action. Sorry to hear it ended up as crappy as the usual Hollywood post action, which is such a bullshit copout. Even HUNGRY GAMES claims it makes it gritty and verite so they’re not exploiting kids’ deaths. No, watch a war documentary, watch RESTREPO. real filmmakers can even hold handheld shots steady. Only posers shake it on purpose.

  11. There were actually a couple moments in Wrath where a single shot would track the action for a fairly lengthy amount of time, one when Worthington runs up to the bat monster and the other when one of those Siamese spin brothers kicks the shit out of a bunch of humans. I liked those shots but not much else.

  12. I also liked how SPOILER FOR THOSE WHO CARE Perseus flies Pegasus right into Kronos’ gullet and blows him up from inside. So like the scorpions in CLASH, and the snow ape in JOHN CARTER, you actually still get your “hero bursts out of the giant beast” bit in there, writ large and fiery.

  13. Hey, wait a minute! Where was our April Fools’ Day Vern page? I want Vern’s celeb gossip! I need to know his opinion on Snookie, especially what a Snookie is exactly.

  14. I’m sure Jonathan Liebesman is a nice guy, but so far I have no clue why he’s become one the go-to directors for big action movies. Battle L.A. was a disappointment for me when I first saw it. I watched it again recently on cable and I can say that I can appreciate it’s B-movie charm a little more now then I could in the theater. That doesn’t mean I think it’s a good movie, just an interesting mess with a terrible performance from a very bland Aaron Eckhart. The shaky cam in that movie is so out of control it mad me mad at times when I couldn’t tell what the hell was happening. For some reason I could deal with it a little more on the small screen then I could on the big screen. Big or small screen, the discovery that that the aliens should be shot in the chest is still one of the dumbest revelations this side of the virus in Independence Day or the water in Signs(Still the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen in a movie I was loving up until that point. My mind will not allow me to forget that the earth is mainly made out of water and these had to be the dumbest aliens ever. Not to mention that the aliens walked through a cornfield in the early morning hours and never got touched by the morning dew. Sorry for that rant) . It seemed like everyone became a crack shot after this “revelation”. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning stunk, The Killing Room stunk, Darkness Falls….well the less said the better. If I went to a job interview and my resume was full of failure I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t get the job. Hollyweird seems to have a different set of rules then the rest of society. This guy and Len Wiseman make me scared for the future of action movies.

  15. “Hollyweird seems to have a different set of rules then the rest of society.”

    yeah and that rule is whether your movies made money, not whether they were any good

    Darkness Falls was a truly awful movie, one of the many examples of that terrible trend in the first half the 2000’s of boring as hell, unscary “ghost movies” that used to be so popular (one great example of which is The Boogeyman, which was even worse)

  16. speaking of which, does anyone remember that trend? (not that it ever fully went away, what with the Paranormal Activity movies)

    I’m talking about movies like the aforementioned Darkness Falls and The Boogeyman, but also movies like Darkness, Ghost Ship, Gothika, Cold Creek Manor and The Messengers

    man, was the 2000’s a shitty decade for horror movies or what? I mean really

  17. I 100% remember that trend and being suckered into it. I highly anticipated Boogeyman because it had Sam Rami’s stamp on it and the trailer was really good. That movie was one of the most boring experiences I’ve ever had at the movies. It was full of jump scares and nothing else. In fact, every one of the movies you mention was exactly the same. Full of cheap jump scares where a cat comes out of nowhere and you’re supposed to think it’s the killer. What really stinks is those movies seemed to have killed supernatural horror movies. In fact the state of horror movies is terrible right now. I grew up loving them, but it seems like horror movies are now only made when a new start-up company needs some quick cash. I know some people don’t like Insidious, but thought that movie got it right. In fact it was the first supernatural horror movie I’ve seen in a long time that understood that atmosphere doesn’t mean jump scare.

  18. You gotta give DARKNESS FALLS credit for the first 10 minutes or so. After that it just goes downhill.

  19. Chitown – exactly, that’s what I hated about them too was that they were nothing but a series of jump scares, no atmosphere, no scary imagery (other than maybe super cliched stuff) just constant shit popping out and going boo, over and over again

    I mean that trend was even worse than all the horror remakes in my opinion because at least a few of those were good (The Ring, Dawn of The Dead, The Hill Have Eyes), I can’t think of a single example of that particular genre that was worth a shit

    not that horror has really gotten any better, but at least that particular subset of movies seemed to die off with The Messengers (which was also Godawful), now it’s all found footage crap

    so basically horror movies in the 2000’s mainly consisted of 3 things: remakes, shitty ghost movies and Saw flicks

    why has the horror genre gotten so bad? do you think it’s the case that literally pretty much everything has already been done?

  20. for what it’s worth, the Saw films are actually miles and miles better and more ambitious than the Freddy, Jason, Michael, Pinhead, Pumpkinhead, leatherface and chucky franchises. Probably not as far reaching as Leprechaun, however.

    Seriously, there is actually a fairly complex narrative that runs through those films and part 6 especially actually functions to reveal a new angle on everything that came before, while still making (almost) perfect sense.

    Phantasm and Saw are pretty much the only horror franchises I can think of with any real narrative ambition.

  21. ok, I’ve never actually seen any of the Saws (did you see Saw?), maybe I’m being too hard on those, at least they did bring new something to the table

  22. What’s so great about Paul’s treatment is that there are clues it’s fake, but they should absolutely be what EXPENDABLES 2 really is. Helen Mirren from RED, Casey Rybeck cameo and EXPENDABLES in space.

    Griff, the SAW movies really are wonderful. They have really substantial things to say and have fun doing it with gory traps. But even the dumbest sequels still add to the story. They never copped out and just did a gorefest, which they could have. And man, those twist endings always got me. You’d think by part six i’d be onto them but no.

  23. Everything Fred says about the SAW movies is true, except the part about them being wonderful. They’re not just plotless gorefests, to their detriment. These movies are the absolute champ at what Joe Bob Briggs calls “Too much plot getting in the way of the story.” They are so loaded with labyrinthine mythology that you can potentially watch them all in a row (as I did with the last three in the series) and forget who most of the characters are from movie to movie. There’s no reason to give a shit about any of them since they have all the same personality (panic constantly on the edge of hysteria) so despite what I concede are the honest efforts of the creators, the only way you’ll be able to tell the movies apart is by the varying levels of grossness of the traps. (In this regard, SAW III: SEASON OF THE WITCH is far and away the champ.) The tone of these movies is so overwrought that you can’t possibly take all of the twisting and turning seriously. It’s just mindless, mechanical switchbacks, the plot constantly doubling over on itself, swallowing its own tail until nothing matters. Nothing is really happening, because the next sequel will just revise everything you thought you knew anyway, so why bother to get attached or even follow along too closely? I respect that they made an honest effort to tell a continuing story and not just a serialized procession of murder setpieces, but despite all the narrative flop sweat, their only pleasure comes from the occasional inventiveness of the gore effects. The series is unique, I’ll give it that. Doesn’t make it good, though.

  24. I remember when the first Saw first came out on dvd I was in Blockbuster video and some guy asked one of the clerks (who was really a cool dude btw) what the movie was about and he casually said “oh, ya know, cutting off body parts”

  25. Here’s a quality guide for the Saw films:

    Saw II
    Saw / Saw VI
    Saw V
    Saw IV
    Saw III
    Choosing to not watch a movie
    Falling asleep drunk and alone on your couch

    Saw 3D.

    Saw 3D actually IS what everyone kept complaining the Saw films were. It’s a dumb, plotless mess with a really obvious and contrived twist. Saw VI is a pretty good sendoff for the series, however. There was gonna be a Saw VII and a Saw VIII, but then the producers decided to do them as one film, like a month before production, when all the sets were already built and the actors already cast. And they switched out directors 6 weeks out in an effort to prevent Paranormal Activity 2 from coming out, (Saw VI’s director was on PA2, but Twisted had an option on his next feature, so they fired the director of Saw V after he handled all of the preproduction work).

    Saw 3D was a totally mercenarial film, a cash-in and a cop out. They did 6 pretty good movies in a row, but the dismount most reminds me of the gymnast’s death in Final Destination 5 (which is a way better movie than it has *any* right to be).

  26. SAW was boring as shit. I could never make it through the movie all the way just watch bits and pieces cause it made me tune out so damn quickly and the twist in the end just made me laugh at it’s preposterousness. Coming from somebody who usually loves outrageous shit that says a lot.

    SAW II is honest to goodness one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen in my life. The manic hispanic overactor in that movie deserved 4 razzies for that performance; he was horrid. I saw it on bootleg and still wanted a goddamn refund.

    Didn’t bother with the others because that one was just so goddamn retarded I couldn’t imagine torturing myself with anymore entries. Say what you want about the NIGHTMARE series but it still has the original, DREAM WARRIORS and NEW NIGHTMARE in there to give you some genuine entertainment and creative horror.

  27. Yes, but SAW III has a man drowning in pureed putrified pig carcasses. That’s some next-level grossness.

    I guess what Fred is saying is why I liked the last SAW a lot more than any of them since II or III. It dispensed with a lot of the self-serious myth-making of the other sequels and delivered the splatterfest everybody always thought they were paying for. It’s the only one in the series I might reluctantly describe as “fun.”

    Bear in mind that I don’t hate SAW. I did manage to watch the entire series without much trouble. It’s something every horror fan should do, if only to have an actual opinion on what was in many ways the defining horror franchise of the previous decade and not have to fall back on tired anti-torture porn arguments.

  28. Tawdry, not Fred. Sorry.

  29. Related note: The Collector almost used this pull quote from me for advertisements: “The best American snuff film since Passion of the Christ.”

  30. Jareth Cutestory

    April 2nd, 2012 at 8:39 am

    It’s actually the retardation that Broddie mentioned that kept me watching the SAW movies. I watched them strictly as comedic melodrama. They certainly weren’t scary, and the morality of the films is utterly assholish. But with the right audience (ie. drunken nitwits) they could almost resemble fun. My only real disappointment is that the puppet didn’t turn out to be evil like Chucky and run amok in the last film.

    In fairness, a case could be made that Tobin Bell brought a modicum of charm to the films, like a low rent Hannibal Lector, largely due to his facial expressions and intonation; most of the words they gave him to speak were beyond silly.

    Anyway, I was going to make a joke about the WRATH OF THE TITANS lava monster utilizing Lava Life, and “lackin’ kracken” was going to be some sort of sexual euphamism. You get the gist.

  31. Is it safe to assume Seattle didnt get The Raid? Im curious how Vern feels about the handheld in The Raid. It is probably the best example of how to do it correctly.

  32. GrimGrinningChris

    April 2nd, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Outside of Saw 3D, which was a “fun” spectacle- despite being pretty awful on story and character, I think the first one is the weakest of the series.

    1. Guiltiest of the sub NIN/Marilyn Manson music video/ avidfartcrunchyguitarsblaringthroughspedupcamerarotations cheesiness.
    2. Terrible terrible performance from Cary Elwes. Just awful. Leigh Wannell gave a more natural performance than a seasoned, Shakespearean actor. Also Elwes is generally pretty decent at American accents, but his accent is all over the place in this one to the point of serious distraction.
    3. Not enough Shawnee Smith
    4. The whole twist, while clever, doesn’t really hold up. In the WRITING of it, it does (with a healthy, but not out of control bit of suspension of disbelief) but in its execution it doesn’t. The whole thing hinges on Zep being forced into the “game” by Jigsaw. He obviously respects and admires Johnny Jigsaw, but there is nothing that would lead us to believe that he’d actually be complicit in the actual violence and torture… So we get to the twist, find out that Zep is NOT Jigsaw and had his actions forced upon him. Fine. Then going back over the movie we see Zep enacting portions of the game/plan… but as he is played by Michael Emerson, he is enjoying everything far too much for someone that is not acting of his own free will.
    I get that we spend most of the movie supposing to think that he, himself is Jigsaw, and his illustrated pleasure in carrying out the plans is part of what makes us believe that… it just doesn’t make a lick of sense once we find out he was not, in fact, Jigsaw.
    5. The stupid fucking Wal-Mart halloween costume robe/cloak. This is a problem with the whole series, but it is used most in the first one. That robe really bothers me. John J. Igsaw is shown to be basically a genius. I don’t buy for a minute that he would be running around wearing that stupid thing. The pig mask, yes. The cloak… nope.
    6. Still not enough Shawnee Smith.

    Well wow, that was a rambling bunch of hooey that probably doesn’t make any fucking sense.

  33. GrimGrinningChris

    April 2nd, 2012 at 11:10 am

    This has gone way way off topic, but I just found out that Shawnee Smith (who I have had a crush on since I was forced to watch a really goofy TV movie of the week about teenage drug abuse called NOT MY KID numerous times in the mid 80s as a youngster… she was a minor player in the movie, but even at like 8 years old I singled her out as a major cutie-patootie… and was further smitten when she popped up in SUMMER SCHOOL and WHO’S HARRY CRUMB? and a few others shortly after that) has an alt country band called Smith & Pyle (with Missy Pyle of GALAXY QUEST, CHARLIE & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY etc…). I’m gonna have to look into whether they actually tour or not and see about getting them booked here at the club just so I can meet her.

  34. GrimGrinningChris

    April 2nd, 2012 at 11:20 am

    On topic, I like lava monsters.

    I still have not seen the original remake (?). I was scared off by the piss-poor reviews on AICN, but now that I know Vern dug it, I may have to fix that this week and also give this new one a try (even though Vern was less enthused).

    Same subject, different movie… but anyone here a fan of Disney’s HERCULES? I think it’s kind of been forgotten and I guess it never really took off with audiences at the time, but it’s easily my favorite post LION KING hand drawn Disney feature. It moves with a great pace, has some good songs, the hottest of the latter-day Disney “princesses” (though, I guess not a princess, but whatever…) and the HUGE cherry on top is James Woods’ AWESOME voice performance as Hades. Love love love him in that role.

  35. I liked HERCULES at the time, but it seemed kind of smarmy and charmless when I watched it a couple of years ago. Not SPACE JAM, but a little too far in that direction. Kind of ugly for a Disney film too. I agree Woods was good, and Bobcat and DeVito too. For once, Don Bluth actually beat Disney at their own game; ANASTASIA came out the same year, and despite its bizzare choice of subject matter and genuinely offensive reactionary revisionism, I think it’s a much better movie.

    SAW IV is genuinely one of the most audacious Number 1 Box Office hits I can think of, even if it probably was by accident. The first ten minutes are just insanely, indefensibly violent, and they’re not unrepresentative of the film as a whole. The lead character is dead. The plot as a whole requires an almost encyclopedic knowledge of SAW III to follow. I seriously don’t know if I could explain to someone from, say, 1997 how that kind of film grossed some $140million theatres.

    For my money Costas Mandylor added a lot more charisma to the series than Tobin Bell. Put him in EXPENDABLES III!

  36. Yeah, the problem with Saw IV is that, while it has a killer twist, it’s also a twist that only happens to the audience. The whole movie is almost one giant Kuleshov effect, almost none of the scenes occur in the right order.

  37. I still think that HERCULES is a seriously good movie and I applaud Disney for trying to do something new with their formula at that time, by making a fast-paced comedy. Too bad it didn’t catch on with audiences.
    BTW, in the German version, the adult Hercules was voiced by Til Schweiger.

    Oh, don’t get me started with ANASTASIA. Rasputin was a cool villain (although he didn’t do much), but the movie was a mess, starting with its annoying use of bad CGI (someone opens a door, the door is CGI. Someone reads a book, the book is CGI.), to the endless string of unmemorable songs (I think there were already 4 of them in the first 20 minutes.)

  38. Hey, jim steinman wrote some of those songs!

  39. That Rasputin song sounds like him. (And coincidently it’s the only one I remember.)

  40. Tawdry I’m surprised you like SAW V as much as I do. I didn’t get the backlash on that on. I didn’t like VI as much as everyone else though. I thought it was pretty stupid and did not have a mature understanding of the health insurance industry, but good effort. Agree SAW 3D is bad, but hey six good ones in a row is pretty awesome. I actually do like the ending but the story is crap.

    Well I am glad we finally have a legitimate discussion of the SAW movies, even if it is in the WRATH OF THE TITANS thread.

    Smith and Pyle? I’m already sold. Songs By Jim Steinman? This is going to be the best band ever. Downloading now.

  41. No song about the mad monk could ever hope to top Boney M’s gypsy-disco banger “Rasputin,” which gives you a valuable history lesson that you can dance to.

    Oh, those Russians…

  42. Yeah, Don Bluth totally forgot to make Rasputin dance really wunderbar.

  43. I have always said that it’s impressive how much the makers of the Saw movies expect you to actually be paying attention and remember who the different characters are. It’s harder to follow than Red Cliff, although in my opinion not as good.

    But I take objection to Tawdry’s statement that “the Saw films are actually miles and miles better and more ambitious than the Freddy, Jason, Michael, Pinhead, Pumpkinhead, leatherface and chucky franchises.” This is hyperbole that must be demolished, humiliated and forced to apologize and pay reparations, but I will have to do it later when I have more time.

  44. Uh oh. Y’all just released the Kraken.

  45. while we’re on the subject of 2000’s horror, let’s try to name some actually good ones

    I really enjoyed the first two Hostels, I don’t know if it was just because my expectations were lowered due to the backlash, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the “torture porn” moniker did not really fit and instead they were just well done thrillers

    28 Days Later resurrected (ha) the zombie genre, although I was kinda lukewarm on the sequel

  46. Griff – You might want to check out this thread, there was a whole discussion of the best horror movies of the decade:
    http://outlawvern.com/2009/09/01/highwaymen/

  47. I think Kiyoshi Kurosawa is perhaps the best modern horror director, although he’s certainly an acquired taste. “Cure” was from 1997 but both that film and “Pulse” are really great. He is an expert at creating a really oppressive, dread-filled atmosphere. “A Tale of Two Sisters” is probably the best ghost movie I’ve seen in recent years.

    Has anyone seen “Cabin in the Woods”? I’ve heard nothing but good things about that one.

  48. I plan on seeing Cabin in the Woods when it comes out, really hoping that one is good

  49. Hills Have Eyes Remake
    Both Hostels
    Dawn of the Dead Remake
    Silent Hill
    Zombieland
    The Mist
    Saw 1-3
    (maybe some of the final destinations?)

    I enjoyed those the most that decade but if you notice most of those are from the latter half. The early 2000’s were absolute shit.

  50. So, uh, you had your fun with the Titans and all, but when are you gonna get down to what we’re all really waiting for, namely your review of The Raid?

  51. I mean, sure. A Nightmare on Elm Street has a better premise and more production value, Halloween is a breathless masterpiece, Hellraiser is a surprisingly complex discussion of sexuality and gore effects, Texas Chainsaw II is one of my top ten films, and the meta-comedy of Bride of Chucky is compulsively watchable, but look at the franchises as a whole.

    Friday the 13th: Not an actually good film in the bunch, in my estimation.
    Halloween: 1, 2 and 3 are cool, but the whole franchise is basically a series of remakes.
    Hellraiser: The original is one of my top 10, but I cannot sit through *any* of the sequels.
    Texas Chainsaw: I really only think part 2 is a good movie.
    A Nightmare on Elm Street. 1, 2 and 3 are pretty good, but 4-7 are really horrible and totally repetitive.
    Child’s Play: These movies have a horrible continuity and only the climax of part 2 and the whole of Bride of Chucky are worth a damn.

    No Saw film is anywhere near Halloween, Hellraiser or Texas Chainsaw 2, obviously/ But if you look at the gestalt of the franchise, it’s actually trying to tell a story and there is some real narrative ambition and ingenuity, which is clearly not true in the latter films of ANY other horror franchise this side of Alien and Phantasm.

  52. The Ring is my number one horror film of the 2000’s and it breaks my heart when people dont agree with me.

  53. Joe — Kiyoshi Kurosawa is indeed great, but A TALE OF TWO SISTERS was directed by the also great Kim Ji-Woon. PULSE is probably my favorite horror film of the 2000’s, but don’t count out Kim. He’s got the goods, no question. Still waiting for Kiyoshi to top PULSE, although RETRIBUTION is admittedly pretty damn great.

    Tawdry — SAW is more complex than most of those, but not necessarily more ambitious, unless you mean as a totality. PUMPKINHEAD alone is more conceptually rich than any given SAW film. HELLRAISER, too. And obviously NIGHTMARE. However you may be correct that as a complete fanchise, SAW held on the longest expecting the most of its audience. Not necessarily in terms of depth, but definitely in terms of density. By sequel 2 or 3 most of the others had given up on any kind of meaningful continuity. But remember, SAW came around as cable dramas began to become increasingly bold in that respect, perhaps embolding series films more than had been possible in the past.

    Still, no one has anything on the PHANTASMs.

  54. I’m not a huge horror fan and probably shouldn’t comment at all here, but I’ve found that all you really need is The Shining for quality scares and Evil Dead II for fun and gore.

  55. CABIN IN THE WOODS is everything you’d imagine a Joss Whedon horror movie to be, but the one to watch for is DETENTION. Only 10 cities on April 13 but brilliant. More comedy honestly but densely packed with cinematic technique.

    2000s horror:

    SAW series
    FINAL DESTINSTION series
    HOSTEL
    PARANORMAL ACTIVITY sequels keep getting better
    CLOVERFIELD counts I guess
    People love LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. I’m ok with it
    Oh, GRINDHOUSE
    Oh, seriously, MR. BROOKS. That one was smart and awesome
    And I will defend SNAKES ON A PLANE til the day I die (forgiving the massive kick boxer oversight)
    And 30 DAYS OF NIGHT! That was in there too.

    What I really hated was the J horror and screen gems remake trend, though I never saw WHEN A STRANGER CALLS or PROM NIGHT, and I was even on the set of PROM NIGHT. just couldn’t get around to it.

  56. Jareth Cutestory

    April 3rd, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Mr. Subtlety: I like Kiyoshi Kurosawa a lot too, but so far I don’t think he’s topped KAIRO/PULSE. CURE comes close, and the sort-of sequel SEANCE is pretty good. DOPPLEGANGER is the weakest film of his that I’ve seen, though it is kind of fascinating to watch if you’ve ever wondered what would happen if Kurosawa put his sensibility and themes of alienation to work on a comedy.

    Best horror of the 2000s? Is SUICIDE CIRCLE considered horror?

    CALVAIRE
    MARTYRS
    ILS (THEM)
    LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
    THE ORPHANAGE
    THE OTHERS

  57. Tawdry – Mr. Subtlety went into the complexity thing. I’m mostly going to speak because I feel many of those movies have excellent replay value to this day.

    FRIDAY THE 13th PT. 3 is an awesome slasher. The way it inverted the concept of the original 2 and raised the stakes is pretty damn cool. I wish I had been alive to have seen it in 3D. Pt. 4 and JASON VS. CARRIE actually had interesting stories and memorable moments. Taking the series beyond “this guy is killing horny teenagers” and daring to go a bit more supernatural and not just full on slasher.

    Off pure replay value not even nostalgia I’d watch those over SAW or SAW II any day. As much as I love TEXAS CHAINSAW 2 in it’s insanity the original is superior in the creep factor despite not being gorey based purely on the atmosphere created by Hooper’s guerilla style filmmaking on that one. SAW never creeped me out while TEXAS CHAINSAW still makes me uneasy at times. I’ve seen that movie too many times for it to have that kind of effect on me anymore yet it never still never fails to disturb me and not humor me like the sequel.

    How someone could not see how CHILD’S PLAY was the only good one in the whole series is beyond me (though I do like the sequels). Same thing with the NIGHTMARE 7 thing. I don’t get that since it was the most original entry in the series since….well; the original. In any case I feel all of those movies have aged very well and still contain enough substance to merit a rewatch once every year.

    The HALLOWEEN sequels did get too stupid for their own good though. The original is still the best slasher ever (sorry PSYCHO) but the whole “Thorn Curse” storyline was awfully retarded. It destroyed the appeal of Michael Myers by trying to explain it and made it worse when it became a cliche “he was abducted and brainwashed” thing. Meaning he was never pure evil and just another feeble mind doing bad things cause of bad people. I would’ve rather “possessed by the devil” or something if they were going to go the cliche route.

    H20 did the series no favor by making it a SCREAM rip off. That tone is the antithesis of what HALLOWEEN should be.

  58. Hmm, if I had to make a list, it would go something like this: Haute Tension, A tale of two Sisters, Hostel, Saw 3, The Hills have Eyes, Death Proof, Halloween (directors cut), 28 Weeks Later, Let the Right One In, Martyrs, Splice, Black Swan, The Woman, The Last Circus and Inside.

  59. Devil’s Rejects
    The Descent
    Cropsey
    Jesus Camp

  60. I saw Splice on a date with an incredibly beautiful woman…who would *not* stop talking at the screen. Weirdly, months later, we also saw Predators. Those were the only two movies we ever saw together. Our ‘relationship’ was apparently predicated upon seeing Adrien Brody scifi monster movies.

  61. I’m with Fred on FINAL DESTINATION. Well at least 1,2 and 5 since I didn’t see the others. Those were all pretty solid and genuinely suspenseful at times. It’s one of the more interesting looks into ‘death’ in a long time in media and I love how they never really do “show” us the antagonist. What you can’t see and visually comprehend but is still inevitable is pretty damn scarier than “boo I am the reaper and I’ve come to take you away!”.

    Haven’t seen BLACK SWAN in a while but that was good body horror. DEVIL’S REJECTS is a blast and still the best from Zombie. I loved how it explores the humanity of monsters so effectively instead of making them cardboard cutouts made of “evil”. While turning a seemingly normal person into a monster himself because of his obsessions (Forsythe). It shows that serial killers are capable of being frightened and also have families too. They’re not just mechanical killing machines. It makes that ending to the FREEBIRD song so effective.

    A shame he never could bring any of that conceptual style into his HALLOWEEN though. 28 DAYS LATER still works better than 28 WEEKS LATER for me but both are part of the collection and worth seeing for any horror fan. I’m keeping an eye out for that CABIN IN THE WOODS. I’ve deliberately avoided any trailers and reviews for it so I hope to find it to be a pleasant surprise once I finally get to see it in a couple of weeks.

  62. I love the Final Destination films. I see them as the modern equivalent of Tom & Jerry or Road Runner cartoons more than anything. The appeal is in seeing creative and masterfully executed (and funny) violence, rather than in storytelling or actual scares. They are all more or less the same (although I like how the characters have gotten older as the films have gone along), and that’s fine by me. I wish there was one every six months.

    Wasn’t that fussed about the third one mind. To be honest I could probably make do with only rewatching Parts 4 and 5. I know most people hated the fourth one but that was honestly one of the most enjoyable times I’ve had in a theatre. 3-D done right!

  63. There was no titans clashing in the first movie. It’s the second movie that finally shows, for the very first time, a real titan, Kronos, Zeus’ daddy.

    The Kraken was not a titan, it was a norse myths export replacing the greek Cetus. Kronos is a titan. Kronos was an earlier immortal. But he was not a giant monster made of lava. He wouldn’t be in any way different from Zeus and the rest of the olympians that suceeded him.

    Also, funny enough, the old greek myths didn’t portaited Kronos as a bad guy. Quite the contrary. During his rule, mankind lived their golden age, which ended with Zeus coup de etat when he and his brothers (Kronos’s children) threw down daddy from the throne and inprisioned him in Tartarus.

    Kronos was not a force of nature. Kronos was not the god of pyroclastic vulcanic eruptions. Kronos was a titan. He was the son of a force of nature, however. They were Gaia (the earth) and Uranus (the sky above).

    The first battle among the immortals was in fact a sort of family feud between the first generation vs the second. The children rebeled againt their old men and waged war. The children won, and the old guys got sent to tartarus (except Atlas who was forced to carry the sky on his shoulders).

    The movie has Tartarus as if build by Hyphestus, with a complicated acess through a moving labirynth. In the myths, tartarus was even more fucked up. The only way to reach it was to go down. the problem, besides the fact it was underground, was how far it took to reach there.

    The ancient greeks had two underground kingdoms. One was Hades, ruled by Hades (yes, same name). Hades was so deep that if there was a hole connecting to the sirface, one would take 40 days in free fall to reach it. Tartarus was 40 days of free fall from Hades below. Yeah, pretty deep!

    So, one could say that in the movie they portait Kronos more like not Zeus daddy but as his granddaddy. except that Uranus was the sky above, not a pile of walking lava!

    I don’t need a movie to be very faithful to the old greek myths to enjoy. But some faithfulness would be nice. This movies hav enone whatsoever.

    By the way, Ares was not the god of war. He was the god of combat. He was the god you invoked for accomplishment in combat. The god of war was actually Athena. She was the god of strategy and military sucess. Wars were won if you prayed to Athena. Ares made sure you came out of combat alive with a good bodycount. Ares was the god of badassery, if you will.

  64. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    April 9th, 2012 at 9:40 am

    No wooden Wookie in this one then? Shame. I was really happy that Vern liked them in the other one. I don’t know why, I got a lump in my throat when he wrote he was gonna (SPOILER) miss this guy in the sequel.

  65. Speaking of SAW, is anyone else willing to bet that’s probably gonna get a revival soon?

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