Mini-Reviews: The Raid: Redemption, Wrath of the Titans, John Carter

The Raid: Redemption:

When I saw Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire earlier this year, I griped that he had this amazing physical specimen for riveting fight sequences and wasted her on a series of dialogue-heavy, plot-oriented scenes that she couldn’t carry. In Gareth Evans’ The Raid: Redemption , he doesn’t make that mistake, tossing plot, dialogue, and character development completely off the radar in favor of non-stop combat. Characters are identified by appearance (one has long hair! one has a polo!), and though the beginning is needlessly dark and gun-heavy, the film is pretty captivating when it becomes a series of hand-to-hand sequences– no guns, no CGI, just bodies crushing each other. Roger Ebert took issue in his review of The Raid that the film glorifies violence without interesting characters; while he’s not wrong, it’s getting to a point where I’m so grateful for stuntwork that I’ll forgive a film’s shortcomings if it chooses to forego computerized assistance in the creation of suspense. The Raid: Redemption is a pulverizing two hours of violence, blood, and grit. (Sidenote: not sure who’s getting the redemption that the title suggests.)

Wrath of the Titans:

When the first entry in a “franchise” is as deeply flawed as the first Sam Worthington-led Clash of the Titans film, it feels horrendously monotonous to drone on about its sequel’s identical shortcomings. Yet here goes. Wrath of the Titans has better effects and significantly better 3D than its predecessor… but with one-note characters, flat performances, a bizarrely paced plot, and a director that at times doesn’t seem to know where to put the camera, it suffers a similar fate. It’s the mildest of improvements, if only for the monsters and the jettisoned stale love story that felt literally added in post last time, yet these monsters have no personality (save for a Cyclops sequence that might be the best CGI Cyclops sequence in film history) and the love story is replaced with a father-son story that is given approximately five minutes of screen time to develop. Sam Worthington, who has officially become Hollywood’s new Worse-Than-Keanu, is 1D in a 3D film, showing zero of the charisma that he hinted at during Avatar and the otherwise-dreadful Terminator: Salvation. Neeson and Fiennes are back as Zeus and Hades, but they are given lifeless dialogue. Bill Nighy hams his way through a scene or two, livening the proceedings momentarily… but there’s very little wrath to be had here. It’s mostly a yawn.

John Carter:

John Carter flopping at the box office is an utter mystery to me. This film, as imperfect as it may be, is a charming spectacle with original visuals and an earnest old-school vibe similar to Star Wars or Avatar. While there are many problems with the structure of the film and the mostly charmless performance of the two leads, the 10-year-old in me loved the movie for what it was. The film is worth admission just for the Tharks alone, who are one of the better realized alien races in movie history. More importantly, this film is a textbook example why you CANNOT, under any circumstances, rely solely on a movie’s marketing campaign to determine whether you see it or not. I mocked John Carter for months due to its historically bad trailers and commercials, but I held out faith because I believe talented directors make quality films. Andrew Stanton, who has directed some of the best films of the last twenty-five years, qualifies. When a few of the critics who I trust started giving positive feedback, I got excited, and although the objective voice in me sees the film’s flaws, they would not have sunk this film. A poor ad campaign sunk this film, which is a shame, as I would have loved to see Stanton direct further adventures in Barsoom.

~ by russellhainline on April 11, 2012.

2 Responses to “Mini-Reviews: The Raid: Redemption, Wrath of the Titans, John Carter”

  1. Thank you for a valiant attempt at reviewing Wrath of the Titans. It’s so hard to review trash like that isn’t it? Not even worthy of being made, let alone reviewed! Your review of John Carter though sounds like what I imagine my experience will be like when I finally get around to seeing it, as the word I hear is mostly “It’s not THAT bad/as bad as you’d think…”

  2. I personally had to share this post, “Mini-Reviews: The Raid: Redemption,
    Wrath of the Titans, John Carter The Password is Swordfish” together with my best pals on fb.
    I reallyjust wished to distribute your very good publishing!
    With thanks, Beth

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