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Review: Epic by Jamie

I often moan about 3D. I find it unnecessary and it generally takes away from the cinema experience rather than enhance it. When I saw Toy Story 3, for example, I’d forgotten that I was even watching it in 3D after around ten minutes. If that’s the case, then what’s the point? Of all the 3D movies I’ve seen, only two have ever impressed me. Piranha 3D which used the 3D as the gimmick it is, and Transformers 3 though that may have been me trying to grasp onto anything I could possibly enjoy from that shit pile.

And so it is that for the most part I see movies in 2D whenever possible. But sometimes that isn’t possible like when a preview screening of Epic sells out in 2D because the world is an annoying place. So after much bitching and moaning I buckled down, paid the extra money for the “3D experience” and the stupid 3D glasses as well. And goddamnit, it was actually worth it this time. For the first time that I can remember, the 3D actually added something. It probably has to do with the nature of the movie. In a forest, you really can make a depth of vision that’s noticeable especially when you’re experiencing it at the height of a bug. So yes, first off I’ll admit that the 3D was actually good throughout and I’d recommend seeing it this way if you do choose to see it.

Still 3D isn’t the reason people go to the cinema. They want to be entertained. They want to see something new. Epic succeeds on the first part, the second well kinda. Obviously this is a story we’ve all seen before, inhabitants of a forest trying to save said forest. An outsider being shrunk down and helping in that battle is also something we’ve seen before. Yes, Epic is very, very similar to “Ferngully: The Last Rainforest” except now we have a snail and a slug instead of a bat as the comic-relief.

So yeah, you know the story. There’s a scientist named Professor Bomba (Jason Sudeikis) who’s obsessed with discovering a race of tiny men that he believes live in the forest. His daughter MK (Amanda Seyfried) comes to stay with him after her mother dies but believes him to be insane because of said obsession. Events unfurl that lead to MK being shrunk, finding out that her dad was right and having to help the tiny race known as the Leaf Men fight their enemy, The Boggans, who spread rot.

Honestly, the film sounds like it’s literally been reassembled from the assorted carcass of other movies like some kind of Frankenfilm’s monster. Take a bit of Ferngully, a bit of ‘Honey I Shrunk The Kids’, a little ‘Lord of the Rings’, stitch it all together and you get Epic. Despite all that there is an enjoyable story here and there’s some innovative stuff that I’ve never seen on film before like the theory that Bomba comes up with that we can’t see the race of little people because they live faster than we do. Hence when MK is shrunk, all the larger animals seem to be moving in slow motion. It’s not completely insane. Pigeons, for example, see in slow motion. That’s why they leave it until the last second before moving out of the way of danger. They’re not completely stupid… Just partially stupid.

The voice talent is all pretty good. Biggest surprise was Steven Tyler as an old caterpillar (caterpillars do not work that way) called Nim Galuu. His voice fit the role well and he did a pretty decent job. The slug and the snail voiced by Aziz Ansari and Chris O’Dowd respectively were entertaining enough. Sure, they had a few jokes that fell flat but the kids in the audience seemed to enjoy them so fair enough. The stand out, however, is of course Christoph Waltz as Mandrake, the villain. What can I say? He’s Christoph fucking Waltz for fucks sake, of course he’s good. Perhaps most interesting for the character itself was that he has a son and he actually seems proud of him. This is surprising because normally when a villain has a child, they find them bumbling or incompetent and quite an embarrassment. This was a nice change. Also Mandrake wears the skin of a bat which may have been a mistake on the film makers part. You expect me to root against a character wearing a bat cape and cowl? For shame.

Another big surprise was Colin Farrell as Ronin, the leader of the Leaf Men. He brings a lot of humanity to a character that, in a lesser film, would just be a gruff hard ass who’s always getting on the case of the male lead, Nod (Josh Hutcherson). Instead he’s a layered character who cares about Nod due to his relationship with Nod’s father and it’s his unresolved emotional feelings towards the Queen of the forest (Beyonce Knowles) and his strong sense of duty that really drive him on his quest.

So yeah, overall a perfectly enjoyable film and one that is actually improved through it’s use of 3D. There’s a battle sequence early on between the Leaf Men and the Boggans that’s fast paced and extremely lively just because of the way they’ve used the depth and vibrancy that the 3D provides them and I applaud them for it. Still, it probably doesn’t quite deserve the title Epic. Maybe Good but who’s going to see a movie just called Good? No one. There are moments where the film seems to slow down just a little too much and he relationship between the two leads never really develops naturally like it should. I’d probably rank this just below your better non-Pixar CGI films. It never really reaches the heights of ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ or ‘Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs’ but it’s certainly better than stuff like the Ice Age or Madagascar sequels. Three pints out of five. Laters.

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Review: Clash Of The Titans 3D by Jamie

Well, it’s been a while since I last updated the blog, the reason being that I’ve been uber-busy with drinking, poker games and then I got ill for a week or so, so that was fun. Still, I am returned and with me comes a review of a film that I saw this past Saturday, the remake of 1981’s ‘Clash Of The Titans’ which was also named ‘Clash Of The Titans’.

Before we get into the review, I just wanted to mention the trailers that played before the film. There was on for ‘Toy Story 3’ which looks like it should be good though I can’t help but think they’re just doing the crazy Buzz thing all over again and they pretty much acknowledge it with the ‘return of the astro-nut’ line. Then there was a fucking confusing trailer for a film I’d never heard of before called ‘Legend Of The Guardians’ which only served to confuse me. It’s all about owls wearing helmets. I don’t know who could have forged these helmets as there don’t seem to be any humans or even apes around and owls certainly have a disadvantage when it comes to forging due to their complete lack of hands. I was even more confused when I found out it’s directed by Zack Snyder. Yeah, that Zack Snyder, the one who directed the ‘Dawn of the Dead’ remake, ‘300’ and ‘Watchmen’. What the shit is going on?

But the trailer I really wanted to mention was the one for ‘Piranha 3D’. Is Piranha 3D going to be a bad film? I think it’s reasonable to say that it’s going to be a fucking awful film but it’s going to be fucking awful in that way that I love. It’s got killer fish, fish that kill people and fish with murderous intentions! What’s not to love? This may even be the film that turns me around on the whole 3D experience. Hmm, I may have shown my hand a tad here.

Anyway onto the main event. Now that night we had intended to go and see ‘Kick Ass’ but due to a comical series of misunderstandings and misadventures we ended up with tickets to Clash Of The Titans instead. The weird thing was that I had actually watched the original that morning. Hadn’t seen it since I was a kid and so I had decided to buy it and watch it before seeing the remake. I just didn’t intend on watching both on the same day.

And boy, did my enjoyment of the remake suffer for it. I couldn’t help but compare the two in my mind as I watched and the remake certainly did not come out as the favoured choice. Now there could be some light spoilers here, though if you’ve seen the original I don’t you can really consider them as such.

How best to describe this film? Well, you know those Junior Novelisation books? The ones that are produced for children featuring massively simplified versions of a movies plot? Well, that’s what watching this movie felt like. Many of the elements from the original were there but they were just rushed through in an effort to get to the next special effects extravaganza.

For example in the original film, Calibos is Andromeda’s lover who is deformed by Zeus for all but on of his sacred herd of flying horses. He wants kill Perseus because he chopped off his hand and solved the riddle that would allow him to marry Andromeda. In this film Calibos used to be Acrisius, Perseus grandfather who Zeus punished with deformity for casting Perseus and his mother into the see. He wants to kill Perseus because Hades asked him too. The herd of flying horses seems to be fully alive and Pegasus himself no a browny black flying horse that the other ones seem to be afraid of. Perseues doesn’t capture and tame him in this film as he does in the original, he just sort of shows up and helps him at the end after meeting him once.

Perseus himself seems to have been struck with Anakin-syndrome, spending the entire film whining and moaning. Whereas as Anakin, however, was whining about how he wasn’t allowed to develop his powers to their fullest extent, Perseus spends the entire film whining about how he doesn’t wish to use the powers granted him by his Demi-God status because he wishes to carry out this quest as ‘A Man!’

Perseus is like Supersanta. He Is A Man!

The problem is that Sam Worthington isn’t a bad actor, especially for someone who is primarily an action star. He was certainly the best thing about ‘Terminator: Salvation’. In this though he just sort of rasps his way through his lines, sounding for all the world like some kind of Jason Statham with an Australian accent. One of the few times he does actually sound excited is when he turns to his men before entering Medusa’s lair and exclaiming “Don’t look that bitch in the eye!” and it seems so completely out of place within the context of the rest of the film that you just can’t help but laugh out loud.

Speaking of Medusa, she had a confusingly attractively human face. Confusing because any discussion about her before had been very insistent on explaining just how hideous she had become now. There’s also absolutely no sense of suspense or terror involved in the heroes battle with her. It’s all a bit of a Transformers-esque action scene which is a bit of a shame. Her backstory had also changed. In the original film she willingly fucked Poseidon in Athena’s temple, causing Athena to curse Medusa. In this film, Poseidon rapes Medusa in Athena’s temple. Athena punishes her anyway. So… what? Am I supposed to have sympathy for Medusa now? Am I supposed to hate Athena?

Not that it’d matter anyway because Athena doesn’t really appear in this film. Nope, this is strictly Zeus’ and Hades’ show. Oh sure, Poseidon makes an appearance in order to utter a line and some of the other Gods appear in their council chamber but I don’t think any of the others are even named. The reason for this is sadly clear. The filmmakers have decided that they don’t want people to think too much so they are only going to include the Gods that they know for sure the majority of people have heard of and that basically comes down to Zeus, Hades and maybe Poseidon. Hades wasn’t even in the goddamn film only further to serve my suspicion that he was included here purely for that reason.

The original film was much more about the Gods and the feuds going on between them and the unfortunate way that humans just happened to get tangled up between them. This film is more about a kind of war between man and the gods, with some infighting between Zeus and Hades, though it’s fairly unimportant as a whole. And I don’t know exactly what the fuck Ralph Fiennes is doing as Hades here. He stalks about and whispers his line, mispronouncing the word Kraken. It’s all very bizarre and not as creepy as I’m sure it was intended to be.

On to the Kraken then. Well, it’s essentially a big incomprehensible CGI mess which thrashes about for five minutes or so before Perseus turns it too stone with Medusa‘s disembodied head. Which is kind of exactly what happens in the original. It has absolutely none of the character that the Kraken had in the original film, even if he did look like a plastic, four-armed monkey fish.

Ooh, before I go I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the scene with Bubo, the robotic owl from the original film. Whilst getting ready to go on their quest, Perseus pulls the creature from a chest. It blinks, flaps it’s wings and makes that weird Clangers noise that it makes for a bit. Perseus asks another person what it is and he simply replies that he should just leave it there. The message is clear ‘This isn’t your father’s Clash Of The Titans!’ or rather ‘That’s right we’re literally pissing on the original now!’

So was there anything good about this film? Well, some of the action scenes weren’t bad though, as I say, they did occasionally slip into Transformers levels of incomprehension. And the actors in the film are pretty much all good actors, they just didn’t really do much for me in this. Polly Walker, the MILF who played Atia in HBO’s awesome series ‘Rome’ is here essentially playing the same character which was great until she was killed off ten minutes later. As for the 3D, well, you can really tell it was a film that wasn’t originally intended to have been made that way. Nothing really jumps out at you (3D humour there, ladies and gentlemen) and you can’t help but wonder why they bothered with the conversion process after the fact.

Overall I’m sure I’ve been harsher on it that this film deserves and I honestly believe that that’s only because I did watch the original that very same day. Overall, I’m gonna give it two pints out of five. And now for all you potential heroes out there thinking of crossing the river Styx and giving Charon, the Ferryman of the Dead, some coinage in order to do so, here’s some advice from Mister Chris De Burgh. Laterz.





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