“Wrath of the Titans” is a sequel to the 2010 “Clash of the Titans,” which was a remake of the 1981 “Clash of the Titans,” the last of the storybook spectacles whose effects, by the stop-motion specialist Ray Harryhausen, now lie shriveling in the memory of Boomers.
The 3-D effects here are for more technologically jaded kids, yet they nod -- consciously, I hope -- in Harryhausen’s direction, which is to say they’re clumsy enough to have some charm. The divine and semi-divine characters who band to save the earth from annihilation include Sam Worthington (Perseus), Liam Neeson (Zeus) and Ralph Fiennes (Hades), all retained from the 2010 “Clash.”
The movie would be better if the actors were worse. Lines like “O Hades, what have I done to you?” aren’t so much fun when you know the actors trying not to look mortified by them can handle Shakespeare. Further down in the cast are a few Europeans who mangle their words in ways that are truer to the B-list epics of the ‘50s and ‘60s.
The director, Jonathan Liebesman (“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning”) seems suited to the material. It zips along, and some of it is even (intentionally) funny. Mainly, though, it’s a hodgepodge of references to pictures that don’t really deserve to be remembered, and certainly won’t be by the tweener boys it’s aimed at.
I thought I caught allusions to the 1959 “Journey to the Center of the Earth” and even, once the brimstone really started to fly, to the destruction of the temple in DeMille’s 1949 “Samson and Delilah.” But it could just be that all cheeseball demolition spectaculars look sort of the same.
“Wrath of the Titans,” from Warner Bros., is playing across the U.S. Rating: ** (Seligman)
Julia Roberts is easily the fairest thing of all in “Mirror Mirror,” Tarsem Singh’s prettier than charming comic spin on the Snow White tale.
Roberts plays the Queen (fabulously costumed by the late Eiko Ishioka), who rarely uses magic when a cutting remark will do. “Some would say Snow is high maintenance,” whispers the Queen conspiratorially to the handsome, Snow-smitten Prince (Armie Hammer).
Singh casts a campy spell over the tale, with the Queen wrapping her big ol’ Julia Roberts smile around death orders and servant insults. Her king long missing, Her Majesty has the run of the castle to browbeat her toady (Nathan Lane) and obsess over Snow’s alabaster skin.
With three writers (Marc Klein, Jason Keller and Melisa Wallack) “Mirror Mirror” has the tonal inconsistency of a children’s-TV anthology -- a slapstick scene for the bandit dwarves here, a screwball love match there. Kids might think it’s as funny as it wants to be.
For most of the picture, Snow (Lily Collins) has only to look pale, bond with her seven small pals and swordfight the gorgeous, often shirtless Prince.
Though the film looks a bit grainy, the vaguely Bavarian locale is impressively wrought. Filmed mostly on sound stages, the spooky birch woods and snow-covered landscape have an intentional artificiality, as if the set could be hauled to the nearest Broadway stage for a six-week transfer.
Broadway composer Alan Menken has already provided the score, even if its cartoonish personality serves mostly to lighten up the long stretches when “Mirror Mirror” drags drags.
“Mirror Mirror,” from Relativity Media, is playing across the country. Rating: **1/2 (Evans)
Hockey occasionally breaks out during the fights in “Goon,” a low-aiming “Rocky” on ice.
Based on a memoir by Canadian player Doug Smith, “Goon” stars Seann William Scott as one of the sport’s punch-throwing enforcers, or goons -- players recruited to liven up the games with bloody brawls.
Likably soft-hearted if dimwitted (rather like the movie itself), Scott’s Doug Glatt is an aimless bar bouncer “touched by the fist of God,” as one hockey bigwig notes. He can barely skate, but can coldcock an opponent like no one else.
Director Michael Dowse and screenwriters Evan Goldberg and Jay Baruchel give Glatt some family drama (the disapproving dad is played by Eugene Levy) and a troubled love story (Alison Pill as a slutty variation on Rocky’s Adrian). Better is Liev Schreiber as the aging goon threatened by the newcomer.
“Everybody loves soldiers until they come home,” Schreiber’s enforcer tells Doug, voicing the hockey puck wisdom that flows through “Goon” like blood from a broken nose.
“Goon,” from Magnet Releasing, is playing in New York and select cities. Rating: ** (Evans)
What the Stars Mean: **** Excellent *** Good ** Average * Poor (No stars) Worthless
(Craig Seligman and Greg Evans are critics for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are their own.)