Tag Archives: thrilling

The Revenant

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Review:

The Revenant

***1/2 stars (of 4)

By Christopher Pickhardt

The magnificent trailer for The Revenant that was released last year featured breathtaking visuals of the American wilderness inter-cut with harrowing action, a bearded Leonardo DiCaprio, the gruff-looking Tom Hardy and a harsh story-line of revenge, all underscored by the growing sound of breathing. It is this most vital intake of oxygen that serves as the key theme of this captivating and immersive film.

As anyone who has seen the trailer is aware, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Hugh Glass (loosely based on a real life fur trapper) is attacked by a bear and left for dead by his fellow outdoors-man John Fitzgerald (played by the always amazing and ferocious Tom Hardy). This is the basis for the film’s survival/revenge tale, which slowly unfolds before us with some of the most beautiful footage you will ever see on film. Visually this film is an unparalleled masterpiece which should net a third Oscar in a row for Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who is on an amazing hot streak (having received Academy Awards for last year’s Birdman and 2013’s Gravity) and will most likely produce a second in a row award for director Alejandro G. Inarritu (who collaborated with Lubezki on 2014’s best picture Birdman).

The Revenant may also win a best picture Oscar this year as well, especially given that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association made that very proclamation themselves at this past Sunday’s Golden Globes telecast. It certainly appears as though the blood, sweat and tears and apparent misery the cast and crew endured while making this film are paying off. The accolades, praise and award chatter the film has been receiving are understandable. There is so much excellence on display throughout the film’s two and a half hours that it is almost daunting to absorb.

The Revenant is definitely one of those films that will stay with you and linger in your mind for days, as the best moments are replayed all over again like a cinematic highlight reel. I was absorbed by the film’s ghostly atmosphere, with the vast expanse of the snowy mountains and bleak dark clouds overhead. I was sucked in by the tempered music, which featured the sound of a bell that rang softly in the background, underscoring the harrowing extreme conditions of our hero’s journey – both emotionally and physically. And I was awe-struck by the gorgeous photography that was painstakingly captured solely by natural light. No artificial lighting rigs were used to make this film, so you can imagine how long it took to get some of these amazing action sequences in the can – especially the scenes that featured long uninterrupted takes! Truly this is a feat of filmmaking if ever there was one and I would wager that not many productions can match this piece of work. The technical achievements of this film are the elements that impressed me the most, as the story is fairly simple. However, it is the way that Inarritu tells this story that makes it fresh and engaging to an audience that has seen everything – except nobody has seen anything like The Revenant. Few films have featured photography this stunning (except for maybe in a Terrence Malick film) or showcased the majesty of nature to such an extreme degree or delivered a grizzly bear fight that looked SO REAL that it is hard to fathom how the hell it was filmed. Everyone on this film pushed themselves and their creativity to the limit and each and every performer (both behind and in front of the camera) was one their game.

There is a lot of Oscar buzz floating around Leonardo DiCaprio for his work in this film and I expect it to intensify now that he has won the Golden Globe for this part. It was a deserved win for a terrific performance, but a fairly quiet one. DiCaprio did most of his acting with his eyes, speaking very little and carrying the film with a relatable determination of a man on a mission. DiCaprio surely gave his all for this part; having worn that scraggly beard for two years, slept inside an animal carcass and even ate a raw buffalo liver on-screen. That is dedication. This is definitely one of Leonardo’s best performances, but not THE best in my opinion.

I really felt he deserved the Oscar for The Wolf of Wall Street. That was such a layered crazy performance that really showed a range and aptitude for comedy that we have never seen him exhibit before. If he does win this year I believe it will be a political win, given that there is a consensus that he has been overlooked and snubbed time and again. I do not disagree with that sentiment; the man is an incredible and reliable actor, who works his ass off on every film. I do not think anyone can ever accuse him of being lazy or phoning in a performance. I frankly do not get all the legions of Leo haters out there. You can’t rip someone apart continually because you did not like Titanic. The guy is a great actor.

Speaking of great actors, Tom Hardy, that powerhouse of a presence almost steals the movie, playing Fitzgerald, a ruthless rival fur trapper who cares only for himself, and manipulates the other members of the hunting party. One of his pawns is a younger naive man, Bridger (Will Poulter) who reluctantly goes along with Fitzgerald’s egregious act of abandoning Glass (DiCaprio) because he is not up to the task of standing up to the intimidating will of Fitzgerald, who is determined to get back to the fur trapping company’s fort to obtain his payment for this rough journey’s work. Hardy’s character is a guy who is not keen on authority and resents Glass, who has served as the company’s tracker as they travel through the wild in a six-month long quest for fur. Hardy’s Fitzgerald considers DiCaprio’s Glass a lousy guide who he alleges has led their party to considerable ruin and basically wants to cash out as soon as possible instead of traveling by foot through the mountains in an effort to avoid the Pawnee Indians who are in pursuit.

Fitzgerald also holds contempt for the company’s fair but stern leader, Captain Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson), who Fitzgerald believes is mistaken for placing the company’s bounty of fur and their survival in the hands of a tracker that he deems incompetent. It is this building tension followed by that amazing grizzly bear attack (and one other major event I will not spoil) that serve as the catalysts for the film’s second act and eventual bloody conclusion.

In closing, I will reiterate that this is a marvelously made film with a bounty of texture and beauty, where every shot is a painting and every moment nuanced to perfection. In essence The Revenant is an art house film with a studio budget – truly a rarity in today’s blockbuster-hungry film climate. As I mentioned earlier, the theme of breathing or staying alive in other words, is a major thread throughout this film. Glass instills in his half-Native American son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck) the idea that “if you can breathe, you can fight.” And as Glass struggles to survive from one potentially fatal obstacle to another on his vengeful journey, those words are echoed all around him – especially as he sees visions of his late wife and hears her voice guiding HIM through the darkness. Perhaps we can all take that message to heart during times of crisis. There is a lot of truth to that statement. If we can breathe, we most assuredly can fight. So as long as air is passing through our lungs, no obstacles are too large. All we need is the drive to push ourselves to the limit. Just like the makers of The Revenant did.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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Spoiler-Free Review:

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
**** stars (of 4)

By Christopher Pickhardt

All I can say is the following: WOW, AMAZING, INCREDIBLE and AWE-INSPIRING.

I will break the mold a tad here and present my thoughts on this film in a rather unorthodox fashion today. As a longtime fan of the Star Wars franchise I have been through a lot over the years, which I am sure the other millions of fans can identify with as we have watched our beloved film series (the originals) evolve from a staple of our childhood entertainment to a mediocre trilogy of films (the prequels) that were supposed to be so much more.

This very (dare I say) traumatic emotional roller coaster us fans have experienced with this hallowed franchise also speaks volumes to the strained relationship we have had with Star Wars’ iconic creator George Lucas. It is this relationship with Luca’s world that makes the highly-anticipated arrival of this seventh film in the series so welcomed and is the reason why I have chosen instead to compose a thank you note to The Force Awakens’ creators instead of a traditional review. Here goes…

Thank you J.J. Abrams for making a respectful, perfectly crafted film FOR THE FANS to enjoy and not just solely as a corporate money grab. I found myself just sitting there in the theater entranced at times, like I was 6 years old all over again. It is clearly evident that this long-awaited film was made for the fans BY a fan. Each note and moment was exceptionally crafted, from the first frame to the PERFECTLY chosen last.

Thank you Kathleen Kennedy first and foremost, for taking the reins of Lucasfilm, secondly, for steering the franchise in the right direction and most importantly, for entrusting this grand responsibility to the perfect filmmaker, J.J. Abrams. I know Steven Spielberg also had a hand in referring Abrams for this job and for this assist Mr. Spielberg; I tip my hat to you.

Thank you Lawrence Kasdan for coming back to the world of Star Wars to write this film with J.J. (with additional early writing by Michael Arndt). Your contributions to The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi were remarkable and with The Force Awakens, were again paramount to this newest film’s success. You are a master of character and your voice is heard through these legendary characters’ dialogue.

And I would be remiss to not say thank you to the man who started it all, Mr. George Lucas. Sure us fans have some gripes and axes to grind about your countless tinkering with the original films we hold so dear, but our opinions and outrage have come from a place of love. Love for the world YOU created and painstakingly crafted for the rest of us to enjoy. Your vision, that grand horizon of adventure and imagination was so vast and enthralling that we were captivated from the moment we laid eyes on that impending Star Destroyer chasing that tiny spaceship through the dark abyss.

I applaud your ability to wrangle up the best people to help hone your creative vision and for the technological advancements that have come from those early blossoming days of Industrial Light and Magic. Film itself owes you a debt of gratitude and I raise a glass to your efforts and to your wise decision to pass the torch (or lightsaber) to Disney and allow it to burn forever.

I am one VERY satisfied fan and I feel very confident in the direction this new trilogy is headed. I feel good about the groundwork that is being laid down for Episodes VIII and IX and have the utmost trust in what Disney has in store for us, now that they are in control of the greatest film franchise in movie history. It was truly worth the long wait and I am counting down the days to the next one.

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

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Review:
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
**** stars (of 4)

By Christopher Pickhardt

There is no other way to say it, Mad Max: Fury Road is ABSOLUTELY MIND-BLOWING! This film is EVERYTHING you have been wanting and SO MUCH MORE! If you are like me and have been eagerly awaiting another installment of the iconic Mad Max franchise with baited breath, you can now rest easy because George Miller’s long-in-development opus has finally arrived for us to consume with glee.

Let me first just begin by saying that all the waiting and false starts on the road to this film’s completion have been totally worth it. George Miller has outdone himself with this incredible piece of cinema. He has orchestrated one of the GREATEST ACTION FILMS I HAVE EVER SEEN in my life! This movie is an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride from the first scene to the very last. Stunts are pulled off on this film that I was jaw-dropped to witness. How people did not perish while making this movie is beyond me. The choreography and precision that must have been instituted to capture Miller’s grand vision must have been incredible. I would wager that each day’s safety meeting was comprehensive to say the least.

I imagine that during the pre-production meetings of the film, Miller was telling his creative team that no costume is too absurd, no vehicle too excessively impractical and no touch of oddity is off the table. ANYTHING goes in this wild vision of the worst future you can imagine. No director has had more fun executing his vision and who could blame him. This is the kind of movie director’s dream of making and the kind every actor wants to be a part of. George Miller has assembled all the right people and ingredients to bring his dream to life. The cast is spectacular, the cinematography breathtaking and the production design, costumes and vehicles SO OVER THE TOP that you will be salivating over your shirt through the biggest smile you have ever experienced. I found myself in awe whilst watching this movie and marveled at the amount of work that went into making such an extravaganza of excessive adrenaline. I wouldn’t even know where to begin such a process.

Miller is a genius and a true maestro of tension; having planned out every shot of this masterpiece over many years in his head and pasted together a moving freight train that keeps you glued to the screen for two hours. At one point I was ready to chew on my belt to get me through the intensity on screen.
THIS IS WHAT MOVIES ARE ALL ABOUT. Forget the “cause” films, the romantic dramas, the historical epics and the Merchant Ivory period pieces. THIS is why we happily allow theaters to extort our money from within our pockets. All those other genres are well and good, but this action-packed bonanza is why we go to the movies. Mad Max: Fury Road is ENTERTAINMENT in its purest form, and I have never been happier to shell out some greens.  I walked out of the theater feeling more energized, more entertained and more pleased than I can ever recall. And that is saying A LOT. Hours have passed since I left the screening and I can’t stop thinking about this movie.
GO SEE MAD MAX NOW!

The Grand Budapest Hotel

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Review:

The Grand Budapest Hotel

*** ½ stars (of 4)

By Christopher Pickhardt

With The Grand Budapest Hotel, as usual, Wes Anderson has made a quirky and enchanting film that immerses us in a world that is unmistakably his. With the usage of vibrant colors, clever camera movements, off-beat if not outlandish characters and elaborate set designs, Anderson leaves his unique signature all over his films that add a nuance and style which serve to further envelope the viewer in the story.

Wes Anderson is in a small club of film-makers whom have cultivated their storytelling style to such a recognizable degree that if one was to flip through the channels without knowing who a film’s director was, could almost immediately deduct the maestro just by the visuals, or the script and by the accompanying elements. Regardless of whether or not this particular film may be said director’s finest work, their fingerprints would be evident all over the place. Visionaries like Martin Scorsese, Tim Burton, David Lynch, Steven Spielberg, Terry Gilliam, David Cronenberg, Quentin Tarantino, Woody Allen, David Fincher and more recently Christopher Nolan and Alfonso Cuaron (I may have missed a few) have crafted works that are unlike their contemporaries, simply by employing techniques in such a carefully-crafted and deliberate manner that we recognize their brushstrokes with ease.

In other words, you know you’re watching a Wes Anderson movie and with The Grand Budapest Hotel, it is no different. At the core, this is a murder mystery/who done it story with layers of vast eccentricity and rich comedy – which is both subtle and slapstick, depending on the moment. The characters all have clear agendas and motivations, which when blended together create a crazy troupe of people all running either away from or after each other. Mad-cap would be one way to describe this film or “this is SO a Wes Anderson film” would be another. You know what you’re getting and it is usually highly inventive and ultra creative. Anderson just doesn’t tell the usual stories; he spins yarns that are unlike most films out there – stories that have a lot of heart and look at the world through an off-center point of view that is very playful and free of cynicism. In a way, Wes’ films have a very childlike innocence to them and I mean that as a high complement. It takes a very intelligent and clever artist to craft stories that can so vividly show us human behavior in both a cartoonish and deeply realistic fashion. Not an easy tightrope to walk, but Anderson finds a way. That is what makes him special.

The cast here is superb (as always), which is led by Ralph Fiennes as the Grand Hotel’s omnipresent concierge who takes Zero – an ambitious lobby boy (Tony Revolori) under his wing and on the adventure of his life (and for his life). The supporting cast includes Anderson regulars and newcomers such as: Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Adrian Brody, Harvey Keitel, Willem Dafoe, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, F. Murray Abraham (in his nicest work in years), Jude Law, Tom Wilkinson, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman and many more (mostly in cameos).

The eclectic casting, which has become the norm in Anderson’s films, is a wonderful and exciting element that further grasps our attention and draws us into the story. I am so happy that the trend of piling a huge assortment of name talent in a single film; which was ubiquitous in 40’s, 50’s and 60’s cinema, has made a comeback of late – probably picking up steam in the mid – late 90’s (with films such as Heat, The Thin Red Line, Short Cuts, Boogie Nights, Pulp Fiction and HBO’s And the Band Played On) and gaining real momentum with Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s films in the early 2000’s.

Today large casts are in full stream – with actors lining up to work with pedigree directors, often in small parts because they believe in the film’s story or just want to be a part of a unique collaborative experience and sometimes, just want that paycheck. Regardless, it is to the film’s benefit and us the viewers get to reap all the benefits. Even when a film isn’t that great it is still fun to see tons of actors working together – sometimes much like a crazy recipe (Expendables for example). Who would have believed back in the 80’s that we’d actually get a film with Stallone and Schwarzenegger together?! It seemed like a dream that would never come true, but now we’re heading for our 4th collaboration of these two icons with this year’s Expendables 3.

I recommend The Grand Budapest Hotel for those seeking to see a nice, entertaining clever little movie that is original and fun which is not a sequel, a prequel or a TV/video game adaptation or based on a teenage book series. This is a film for real cinema lovers but one that is not pretentious or too avant-garde to follow. It’s almost a throwback to classic Hollywood – which given a lot of today’s films, is a welcomed surprise.

 

House of Cards – Season 2

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Review:

House of Cards – Season 2

**** stars (of 4)

By Christopher Pickhardt

Having just finished House of Cards season two a couple nights ago I felt it was necessary to express how much I admire this show. From the very first episode of season one I was hooked – enthralled is more like it. And season two is even better…SO much better. I didn’t think that was possible.

I love political movies; the ins and outs of Washington, the corruption, the intrigue – it is all so captivating. Here in House of Cards, we are given an ever broader view of just how dirty that town is. I will concede that this is a fictional depiction of how American politics works and there are surely some extremes and liberties displayed, which serve the drama and tension of the story-line. However I am certain that a good amount of what we see here actually does go on.

Politics is just a dirty, power-hungry enterprise which is ripe with favors, alignments and concessions on all sides. In many ways Washington is a circus populated with puppets, puppeteers and figure-heads that fight in public and shake hands over laughs and bourbon in private. In effect, the joke is on us – the PEOPLE who buy into the farce that is American politics.

Our vessel for this look into the political matrix is the diabolical and determined Frank Underwood, played brilliantly by Kevin Spacey. This is his world and anyone who gets in his way is toast. Spacey is pitch-perfect in this role and he commands every scene with vigor and a steadfast determination which he shares with his audience when he often breaks the fourth wall to verbalize his inner monologue. He is the most charming, intelligent monster we have seen on screen in recent memory. It is rare that you find yourself both rooting for and against the show’s protagonist – who in turn also serves as the antagonist to other characters. That is a very interesting dichotomy and probably why the show is so intriguing.

Spacey’s supporting cast is also magnificent – lead by the always wonderful Robin Wright – who is doing her best work here as his equally-calculating wife Claire. Together they plow through Washington, doing anything and everything necessary to accomplish their goals and often stepping on people to get there. Casualties are all over the House of Cards canvas, with some truly shocking moments and unexpected twists and deaths. Michael Kelly is excellent also as Underwood’s right hand man Doug Stamper who exemplifies a mix of creepiness, servitude and blind allegiance; vowing to do whatever his master commands. Is season two, he is given a lot more time to flesh out this character and man, does he have problems to sort out. Raymond Tusk (played by Gerald McRaney) is given a lot more to do this season as well; his role serving as a fantastic manifestation of the supreme capitalist – a billionaire corporate tycoon maddened by power and hungry for the ear of President Walker. Michael Gill who we see a lot more of this season (as said President Walker) does a terrific job of showing us a man who is being played on all sides and at every turn by his supposed allies. At times he is almost paralyzed and it is not until he learns to show some strength, that he begins to regain his footing as the Commander in Chief.

I imagine many, if not all presidents in real life are in similar situations as Walker finds himself here – caught in the middle of dire national issues, foreign scandals and inter-office politics all the while hoping to do what he feels is right and possibly trusting the advice of people who may or may not have his best interests at heart.

This is an amazingly compelling show on all levels and I hate that I must now wait a year for season three. The perils of binge-watching are truly a double-edged sword. I can’t wait for that theme song, that incredible score, to kick in once again; which precedes a whole new chapter in Frank Underwood’s journey to the top. This is one of the few shows that I sit through the opening credits for EVERY time. I just love the score that much and adore all that GREAT time-lapse footage of the streets of Washington. It is such a cool introduction montage and I am thankful to David Fincher for creating that for us (not to mention, overseeing the show itself).

I know this program is based on a popular BBC series (and novel) of the same name, which I am very interested in becoming familiar with. I imagine the inner-working of the British Parliament must be just as intriguing, if not more, than the inner bowels of Washington, but I hesitate to venture into that material in fear of potential spoilers for the American House of Cards I have become so enchanted by. I am sure this version deviates from the British source material, but I am sure there are enough similarities that could possibly ruin certain big revelations down the road. So, I guess I will wait for the American run of House of Cards to play out then maybe I will visit the BBC version. Alas, the waiting is indeed the hardest part.

Hereafter

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Review:

HEREAFTER                                                                      

**** Stars (out of 4)

Hereafter, Clint Eastwood’s newest film explores the after life in a manner I have never seen before and he does it beautifully. The film addresses the moments immediately following death vividly, leaving us yearning for more but does not exploit it. We are given just enough to wet our pallet, with glimpses of what could happen after our time on this planet is over. God, faith and religion are all mentioned in the film but not for long and it is up to the audience to take what they have seen on the screen and decide for them self what they believe.

Eastwood does not preach but merely presents three stories of people deeply affected by the afterlife and as the film meanders through the lives of these distinct characters, we are slowly being connected to them and begin to care deeply for them, so when the film gets to its conclusion, we are cheering inside for each of them. At least I was.

As usual, Clint Eastwood has made a wonderful, poignant film with subtle nuances and gentle piano music to enhance each mood. The piano has become Eastwood’s signature which he includes with each subsequent film. He has cast his film very well, with Matt Damon as George (a reluctant psychic struggling to live a normal life), Cécile De France as Marie LeLay (a TV journalist who survives a near-death experience) and Frankie and George McLaren as Marcus and Jason (twin brothers who are deeply connected and tortured by the grips of death). The actors all do a fine job, each carrying the film on their shoulders in equal measures. It was an interesting role for Damon, who has become synonymous as an every-man; playing men that seem like someone you would meet on the street that often have an immediately-evident intelligence.

The film is thought-provoking and sensitive with some thrilling moments – like the film’s unreal opening sequence, which will leave you gripping the armrest with white knuckles. But even though the film opens in a grand way it is toned down for the rest of its running time, as this is a drama, not an action film. The story kept my attention and left me riveted, intrigued and moved as I walked out of the theater thinking to myself of the possibilities which lie at the end of my road. I just hope that day does not come for quite a long time. I’ve got stuff to do first.

 

 

 

Narrow Margin

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DVD Review:

Narrow Margin

*** stars (of 4)

By Christopher Pickhardt

1990’s Narrow Margin stars Gene Hackman and Anne Archer. It is a tense, suspense thriller on a train with twists and turns and surprisingly funny lines along the way.

Archer is a woman who witnessed a murder and Hackman is the Los Angeles Assistant D.A. who is taking her from Canada to L.A. to testify against a mob boos who ordered the hit that she unfortunately saw firsthand. Most of the film takes place on a mountainside train along the Canadian wilderness.

As usual, Gene Hackman is great as a smart tough guy who just happens to be a lawyer. He always has a commanding presence on film and his voice is one of the most recognizable in film history. It is a shame he has retired from acting, but I hope he will at least do one more film before he passes. I am not holding my breath however, as Hackman has reportedly turned down a mountain of offers over the years since retiring from acting after making the 2004 film Welcome to Mooseport (what a sad final film for a great actor’s resume’).

Peter Hyams, who is Narrow Margin’s writer, director and cinematographer, has done a great job handling the intensity and intricacy of the action sequences while balancing the expository moments with some surprising humor. At times we are doubtful of the moments where Hackman overpowers men a lot younger than him, but his physical abilities are explained eventually and we can then, dispel our disbelief. But this genre is known for contrivances and we can happily just look the other way and allow the film to simply entertain us.

This is a good, not too famous film I have always known about but have not seen until now. It is definitely a worthy viewing, especially if you are a Gene Hackman fan as I am.

Clash of the Titans

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Review:

 Clash of the Titans                                                    

 **1/2 stars (out of 4)

By Christopher Pickhardt

Being a big fan of the original 1981 film, I was pretty interested in seeing this inevitable 2010 update of Clash of the Titans. The original was a LARGE part of my childhood, having watched in countless times throughout my early years. The practical visual effects pioneered by Ray Harryhausen that were instituted to bring the story to life back then were so memorable for me and I have a great sense of nostalgia for the excellent labor of love that was Clash of the Titans. I especially adore the Medussa sequence (more on that later) and the scenes featuring the evil Calibos. I can vividly recall those iconic images. It is hard to believe it has been 29 years since the original was released. Warner Brothers should have waited one more year to commemorate the film properly. Not waiting for the 30th anniversary is a head-scratcher for me.

This remake is basically all action and visual effects and little character development. The story-line is pretty much the same as the original film with a few modifications. I wish they had taken more time to focus on the characters instead of just thrusting us right into the action sequences. The actors are all good for the most part, making the most of what little the script has given them to work with.

Sam Worthington is the current new golden boy Hollywood is pushing on us (after Terminator Salvation and Avatar). He is a decent leading man, is fairly likable and capable, but I don’t love him. I am hoping he will get a juicy dramatic role which would allow him to really shine. In the action films he has starred in so far he is solid and believable, but there isn’t too much for him to do with the characters he has been given. Avatar to me is probably his most dynamic character to date, given American audiences have not seen his work back home in Australia.

The supporting actors all do their best, with Mads Mikkelsen (from Denmark, the villain from Casino Royale) standing out most for me as Draco, a strong warrior from Argos who accompanies Perseus (Sam Worthington) on his journey to the witches, to face the snaky-Medusa and finally to fight the mighty Kraken (the film’s climactic battle subject). The Medusa sequence is the most memorable one of the original and is the best scene in this film as well – proving that Medussa’s lair is simply a classically-interesting scene featuring one of the most memorable film and mythological characters.

Two powerhouse actors – Liam Neeson (as Zeus) and Ralph Fiennes (as Hades) are the two biggest names in the film and portray two of the most well-known characters in Greek mythology. Given that pedigree, it saddens me to say that I felt these two exceptional actors were restrained and frankly, wasted in their roles here. I did not think the characters they were given had enough “meat” for them to chew on as actors. They are both actors that are capable of great performances and here it felt like they were just coasting. Not that their work in the remake were bad, but I was just left feeling underwhelmed. However, it was cool to see their Schindler’s List reunion though.

I would recommend checking out a matinee of Titans or wait for it to come out on DVD/BLURAY. It is not worth paying full price and especially do not waste your time seeing it in the sub-par 3-D format. I saw it in 2-D and it was just fine. I am not wasting my money on films NOT FILMED in 3-D (Clash and many others are often up-converted to 3-D after filming has been completed in a cost-pinching move by revenue-hungry studios). This movie was rushed into 3-D in post-production to capitalize on the post-Avatar 3-D love, which to me is unnecessary and serves as a fleecing of the moviegoer’s pocketbook. If you are up for action, pretty decent music and an entertaining onslaught of visual effects, then go see Cash of the Titans. But do not expect it to have the allure and charm of the original.