Sam Worthington returns as the Aussie-accented Perseus- son of Zeus, in Wrath of the Titans, the follow-up to 2010’s much maligned Clash of the Titans. Now with Jonathan Liebesman at the helm, the Titans series finally includes an actual Titan as Kronos threatens to end the world if Perseus cannot stop him. With the aid of Toby Kebbell, Rosamund Pike, Bill Nighy, dodgy dialogue and another awful 3D conversion, Perseus just might stand a chance.
For the benefit of those lucky enough to have either missed Clash of the Titans or successfully wiped it from their memories, a quick rundown of where the gods and Perseus stand opens the film. As mankind has turned its back on the gods, their power has been depleted and Kronos’ escape from Tartarus becomes increasingly inevitable. A brotherly dispute between Zeus and Hades (Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes reclaiming their respective roles) makes matters even worse. Perseus’ indifference takes a backseat when a fire-breathing chimera attacks his fishing village. This is the first instance of BIGFASTBLURRYACTIONTHATISANASSAULTON
MONSTERUNTILAFTERTHEFACT. To see Wrath of the Titans, especially on 3D IMAX, is a lot like trying to read the previous sentence: incoherent, hard on the eyes and clearly could have been executed far more successfully. It’s one of the biggest problems that plague a film that should have been an enjoyable, silly mythological romp but instead falls short of this modest goal.
John Madden, the man behind Oscar-winning rom-com Shakespeare in Love, teams up with author Deborah Moggach to bring her novel about English pensioners’ Indian adventures to the big screen in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The players involved are a veritable who’s who of British acting talent of a certain age with Dame Judi Dench and Bill Nighy anchoring this elderly fish-out-of-water tale. With a pinch of Dev Patel for spice (and some youthful appeal) the stage is set for an unusual take on a tired genre.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel kicks off with a series of character introductions; recently widowed Evelyn (Dench) struggling to adjust to life on her own; high court judge Graham (Tom Wilkinson) entering retirement; Douglas (Nighy) and Jean (Penelope Wilton) faced with less-than appealing home choices and don’t forget Maggie Smith as the adorably racist Muriel, displaying the bitter-heart she’s almost certain to have a change of by the film’s end. Ronald Pickup’s horny Norman and Celia Imrie’s man-hunter Madge get similar treatment, before the whole lot are, for one reason or another, whisked away to Jaipur, India, courtesy of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the elderly and beautiful. The hotel, a fixer-upper, is managed by Sonny (Patel), an enthusiastic young man looking to make good, who also happens to have a forbidden relationship with the woman he loves (Tena Desae). Culture-shock sets in for some, some old dogs learn new tricks and love, of course, conquers all. Sadly, for all the film’s good intentions, none of the various plotlines achieve more than mild amusement.
Aardman Animations return to the silver screen with Arthur Christmas, their first feature release in five years. The cheerful CGI holiday tale sees Santa Claus’ son, Arthur, scrambling to deliver a new bicycle to an overlooked young girl before the sun rises on Christmas morning in England. Employing a talented and diverse cast of voices from James McAvoy to Joan Cusack, Arthur Christmas is full of kooky misadventures, while boasting many clever jokes and gags that will manage to put smiles on the viewer’s face, regardless of age.
A young girl’s letter questioning exactly how Santa manages to deliver so many presents all over the world on Christmas Eve opens the film and Arthur (McAvoy) is introduced as Santa’s letter answering son. After panning across portraits displaying the lineage of Santa Claus the 20th, the action gets under way as the delivery operation takes off. Elf battalions, headed by Santa’s older son and heir-apparent, Steve (a marvelous Hugh Laurie) rain down from the massive S1 (a modern-day take on Santa’s sleigh) to stuff stockings and place gifts beneath trees. The impossible mission is ingeniously executed and a true pleasure to watch. Relegated to figure-head status, Santa (Jim Broadbent) puts in appearances while the elves keep the night on track. When a brief panic means one gift goes undelivered, Christmas camouflaged Steve is unmoved and convinces all but Arthur, that one missed child doesn’t matter. Craving one final shot at his glory days, Grand Santa (Bill Nighy, stealing the show) teams up with Arthur to attempt the impossible; making the last-minute delivery undetected.
Christmas landed early in London today, as the world premiere for Aardman Animation’s Arthur Christmas was held at the Empire Cinema in Leicester Square. Decorated pine trees lined the red carpet as snow fell overhead. On hand for the celebration, which helped to raise money for the Starlight Children’s Foundation, were Aardman legends Peter Lord and Nick Park. Joining cast members Bill Nighy, Ashley Jensen and Ramona Marquez, were director Sarah Smith, writer Peter Baynham and an array of British talent including the ever jolly Nick Frost.