Wednesday, April 28, 2010

“Clash of the Titans” Film Review

Nearly 30 years after the original 1981 version of “Clash of the Titans,” the Louis Leterrier remake has at least one major advantage: the advancement of technology.
Unfortunately, what this film boasts in breathtaking visuals it lacks in its depth of storytelling, script and character development.

Based on the exploits of the demi-God Perseus and mankind’s rebellion against the Gods, the focus lies too heavily on the extravagance and spectacle than on the rich source material of the Greek mythology.

Granted, the complexity and unorthodox storytelling of Greek mythology presents significant challenges for big screen adaptations, I can’t help but wonder if half as much effort had gone into developing that complexity as did the scorpion battle scene this movie might’ve had a chance.

The mammoth Kraken, breathtaking aerial shots and majestic recreation of Mount Olympus are a far cry from the marinara sauce oozing from Medusa’s head in the 1981 version. Giving credit where credit is due, the visuals are extremely impressive and visually appetizing. Too bad my appetite requires a little more flavor to satisfy.

Ralph Fiennes does stand out in chilling expertise as the tortured Hades, adding some much-needed depth to the story. And although Liam Neeson’s Zeus is a bit watered down, Neeson makes the best of what he’s given.

Often painful attempts at overacting from the rest of the cast may be some sort of compensation for their lack of meaningful dialogue. The actors do their best, but either miscasting or a cheap script riddled with one-liners and cheesy attempts at inspirational speeches steal whatever potential may have existed.

The story felt bigger than the filmmakers in this one. While it provided some thrills and fun, the story deserves more than that.

Dordt Senior Shows Preview

Story that I wrote for Dordt's school newspaper:

What does a woman trapped in the social conventions of the 1920s and a man searching for his slain father’s sword in Edo, Japan have in common?

Both are subjects of the two senior shows being performed this April, “Machinal,” by American playwright and journalist Sophie Treadwell and “Sukeroku: The Flower of Edo” by Japanese playwrights Tsuuchi Jihei II and Tsuuchi Hanemon.

Senior theatre majors Danielle Roos and Zachary Eggebeen serve as this years’ round of senior directors, with Roos directing “Machinal” and Eggebeen taking on “Sukeroku: The Flower of Edo.”

With auditions freshly wrapped up and casting in place, both directors are ready to begin what Eggebeen calls “the culmination of [their] time at Dordt” as theatre majors, and to put “everything [they’ve] learned to work”

Roos’s “Machinal,” an expressionist play, follows the journey of a woman in the 1920s forced into situations dictated by convention. Written by a woman and based on a true story, Roos was drawn to the play in part due to it’s honest treatment of real and universal struggles of women.

“It’s the story of a young woman going though crises in her life that she feels she has no control over,” Roos said. “That’s something that I thought was very human.”

Eggebeen’s play of choice follows a young man searching for the sword of his murdered father in Edo, Japan, while encountering romance and villainy along the way.

A love of Japanese theatre and it’s history led Eggebeen to his choice. “It has everything,” Eggebeen says, “romance, comedy, drama.”

Aside from the attraction of story, these plays also present unique directorial challenges as well as exciting opportunities for the directors.

“I love working with actors and seeing them grow into characters and get excited about the roles they’re doing,” said Roos, also noting excitedly her casting success.

She’s also taking on a more complex style with expressionism, a style she’s never attempted, allowing her to “learn different directing styles and expand [her] horizons.”

Roos’s Faculty Supervisor April Hubbard commented that expressionism “does not attempt to mimic reality, but to distort and emphasize certain aspects of reality in order to reveal an inner truth” and this play is, to her knowledge, the “first such script performed at Dordt.”

“Danielle's directing experience is already quite extensive for a student, and I anticipate this will be a stunning project of high quality,” Hubbard said.

Eggebeen is excited about facing the challenge of teaching a unique and unfamiliar form of theatre to his actors, as well as introducing it to a mostly unfamiliar audience.

“In Kabuki, the style is much less realistic than in western acting,” he said. “There really isn't the suspension of disbelief that you get in western theatre.”

Ryan Donahoe, Dordt Theatre Deparment’s technical director and Eggebeen’s student supervisor, is extremely excited about the opportunity that Dordt and the surrounding community will have to attend Zach's performances.

“Kabuki is a Japanese theatre style that has never been seen in this area and it is an amazing opportunity for people to witness this in person,” said Donahoe.

Both directors will be working with a combined number of over 25 student actors, their supervisors, and student-run set, lighting, makeup, costume and sound designs. Donahoe figures that all together there are over 50 students involved, offering a great opportunity for majors and non-majors to be involved in theatre.

“Dordt is full of wonderfully talented people in the theatre,” said Eggebeen.

Roos also expressed her excitement to “combine visions” and see a “full concept come to life” in a challenging yet exciting collaborative effort.

With a college career coming to a close and four years of theatre study under their belts, these two directors will have a chance to show the Dordt community a personal extension of themselves and what those four have brought them to.