A giant Cyclops chases Sam Worthington as Perseus in Wrath of the Titans.
This sequel to 2010's Clash of the Titans (which was itself a remake of the 1981 movie) is a slight improvement in terms of entertainment value, but it's still as unoriginal and lackluster as both the title and the tagline attest. Whereas the 2010 Clash of the Titans was a decidedly somber affair, the filmmakers were smart enough to add a sense of humor to the sequel.
Humans have stopped praying to the gods, thus weakening their power. Hades and Ares have joined forces in a sinister plot to kidnap Zeus and use his power to free Cronus (and the rest of the Titans) to conquer the world. Meanwhile the demigod Perseus is living a quiet life, raising his son as a single parent, in a small fishing village. A visit from a dying Poseidon sets Perseus on a mission to rescue his father (Zeus) from the underworld and thereby saving humanity. He is accompanied on his quest by Poseidon's half-human son Agenor as well as Greece's Queen Andromeda.
I despise watching movies in 3D and saw this one the old fashioned way, sans those annoying glasses. I have to say that even in two dimensions the CGI effects are nicely done. They are impressive without completely dominating the story. The scene on an island featuring giant Cyclops's is particularly good (see photo). The finale where the fiery Cronus is unleashed is likewise visually stunning, with Perseus flying on his Pegasus in and around flying streams of molten lava.
Most of the humor is provided by two characters, Agenor and Hephaestus. Agenor is your typical comic relief sidekick. On the surface he's a bit on the mercenary side but underneath possesses a heart of gold. Hephaestus gets less screen-time but is more overtly funny, especially as played by a hammy Bill Nighy, who seems to think he's in a comedy spoof of the genre. And like in the 2010 movie, Bobo the odd little robotic owl makes a cameo appearance.
Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes reprise their roles as brother gods Zeus and Hades. Neeson is once again underused and I've never seen Zeus written in such an easily conquerable manner before. Fiennes has the trickier role as Hades. He comes across rather wishy washy as a halfhearted bad guy. God of war Ares is depicted as the true villain of the movie.
Sam Worthington is as blandly generic as ever as Perseus. He looks the part and is a decent enough actor but for the life of me I can never remember his name after seeing one of his movies. For some reason he never makes a lasting impression on my consciousness. But to be honest neither did this movie. I will have forgotten all about Wrath of the Titans in a few days time.
Sam Worthington and Rosamund Pike in Wrath of the Titans.
Thanks, in part, to the power of zero expectations, I managed to enjoy this movie more than you did Patrick, and more than I did 2010's Clash of the Titans. It also helped that I wasn't comparing it to 1981's campy original of which I have sentimental memories. It's not a great movie, but I wasn't as bored as I was by the preceding film.
I agree with Patrick that the action and special effects are very well done. Along with the cyclops and final battle that he mentioned, I also thought the maze, complete with Minotaur as expected, was an interesting addition. I don't particularly mind 3-D when there's a reason for it, like Avatar, but Hollywood has used it simply as a means of charging more per ticket by doing half-assed 3-D conversions and killed their own golden goose. I certainly didn't feel as though I lost out on anything by not seeing this movie in 3-D.
Not to sound like a broken record, but I must agree with Patrick once again about the comic relief. One of my complaints about the first installment in this series was that it took itself far too seriously. Perhaps this was to distance itself from the campy 1981 version, but in any case, it definitely contributed to my being bored and the added humor was a welcome relief this time around.
One of my biggest complaints about this one and its predecessor is that for movies about the Greek Gods, the filmmakers are awfully stingy about including them. They also seem to be in a hurry to kill them off, which seems a crazy thing to do as they could be the thing to really bring this franchise to life. Instead we are limited to a neutered Zeus, a wishy-washy Hades and a ticked-off, but frankly uninteresting Ares. Yes, technically Nighy is playing the god Hephaestus, but his powers are gone and he barely manages one godlike act.
The cast does a good job with what they're given. Gemma Atterton, who played the female lead in the previous film, is killed off during the opening narration and Rosamund Pike (who would have made a great Aphrodite) steps in to fill in what there is of the romance. Toby Kebbell is a welcome addition as Agenor. I did think it was funny how the characters had so many different accents. Worthington does nothing to hide his Australian accent, Neeson has his distinctive Irish voice, while most of the rest of the cast have varying English accents.
There are some plot holes. The biggest is simply that the gods had the power to kill Cronus all along, but instead chose to simply imprison him, despite knowing that if he someday escaped he would apparently be able to kill them all. Another problem with the story is that Zeus explains that he and the other gods are fading because no one will pray to them. So why don't they just appear before the people and perform some wondrous feat that will inspire them to pray? The Greek Gods never worried about blind faith or free will. They never stopped interfering and appearing before humanity, so why stop now? They certainly have no problem appearing before Andromeda's army during the climatic battle.
Sure, this could have been better. A lot better, as a matter of fact. And maybe saying that it was better than its predecessor, isn't really saying all that much. However, while there are quite a few problems, the eye candy and action was enough to keep me at least mildly entertained.
Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neesom looking bored in Wrath of the Titans
I was offended by The Wrath of the Titans. This was not due to any controversial film content or situation depicted, that may have actually been entertaining. I was offended because it was made as if only children could enjoy it. The extremely simple plot is spoon fed to the audience. Perseus must collect some spears, walk in a tunnel to find his daddy and battle some monsters. Your average comic book has more plot than this.
The ancient stories of Greece were full of campy adventure, death and sex. Perseus travels about on Pegasus and by boat. He encounters giants and demons. This all looks good but are just excuses to implement some CGI.
There are plenty of nameless soldiers who are killed in battle, but again they mostly happened during computer animation. There is minimal blood and even less gore. As for sex, this Perseus is the most neutered of all Greek heroes ever depicted. He gets all of one kiss from Andromeda. Come on folks, ancient Greece was hardly known as a puritan state.
Scott's complaint about the depiction of the Gods is legitimate. Nothing about them rings true in this film. What the hell was that last scene where they decide to show off their power, that we were just told they no longer had? The only God who comes near to the ones of yore is Ares. He spends the entire film seeking revenge out of jealousy. That was a common motivation is the ancient stories.
I agree with Patrick that Sam Worthington is forgettable as Perseus. He is best when playing a normal guy. He was able to humanize a cyborg in Terminator: Salvation and drew some sympathy from the audience in The Dept. Perseus however, is out of his range. The role should have been played by some steroid hound from the WWE. The part does not require much acting. Perseus is able to tangle with Gods and survive. He should look the part. Worthington is all of 5' 10" and does not appear to have spent a great amount of time in a gym. He must have reached that Russell Crowe level of success where he no longer has to make an effort to stay in shape.
Scott pointed out how the characters had so many different accents. This again supports my point that the film makers did not give a shit about the details. The fact that the plot and casting were so lackluster again makes me think that the film makers were giving the audience a symbolic middle finger. It was as if they were saying that we are all so stupid that they need not worry about the details. The only thing that got any effort put into it was the CGI, which in and of itself does not make a movie.
For the record, the computer graphics are in fact good. My brothers pointed out some of their favorite bits while I will add the ever changing maze. Lets not fool ourselves though. All of the CGI is just distractions. They are nice to look at but really do not advance the plot. If half the effort put into the animation was put into the writing, this would have been a far greater film, and less offensive to anyone with half a brain.
Photos © Copyright Warner Bros. Pictures (2012)