Wrath of the Titans
Starring: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Bill Nighy, John Bell, Danny Huston, Toby Kebbell, Rosamund Pike, Edgar Ramirez
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of fantasy violence and action.
Runtime: 1 hour, 39 minutes
Bottom line: More of the same
I’m one of the few people who were curious to see where Warner Brothers might take the “Clash of the Titans” franchise.
The 2010 remake didn’t exactly give us reason to anticipate a sequel (my bottomline for that movie was “mythologically mediocre”), but I still have great affection for Ray Harryhausen’s 1981 stop motion movie of that title, and Greek Mythology offers endless story possibilities.
So I was somewhat hopeful that “Wrath of the Titans,” the sequel that opened last week, would improve on “Clash.”
Sadly, the sequel hits exactly the same heights as its predecessor.
The 2010 “Clash of the Titans” suffered from sloppy special effects and 3-D imaging because WB rushed it to capitalize on the novelty of digital 3-D. The effects in “Wrath” are an improvement, but the 3-D is just as unnecessary as it was two years ago.
However, the Achilles heels for “Clash” were its tedious script and undeveloped characters, and sadly, “Wrath” doesn’t improve on those flaws at all.
Perseus (Sam Worthington), son of Zeus (Liam Neeson) and a mortal woman, is now a single dad — we aren’t told how Io, his wife, died — raising a teenaged son, Helius (John Bell).
Perseus continues to refuse his god half and live as a mortal man. Like many demigods, Perseus has a love/hate relationship with his father.
The movie opens with Zeus and Poseidon (Danny Huston) being tricked by Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Ares (Edgar Ramirez) into entering the underworld, where Poseidon is mortally wounded and Zeus is taken captive.
Zeus is chained up in Tartarus, the dungeon of the underworld, where he waits for Kronos to awaken and kill him, before Kronos sets about destroying all mankind.
Perseus, of course, has to embark on a perilous journey in order to reach Tartarus and save Zeus and all humanity. He is joined on the quest by the demigod son of Poseidon, Agenor (Toby Kebbell), and Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike).
“Wrath of the Titans” is very much about fathers and sons, and brotherly loyalty. Kronos, a massive Titan made of magma and rock, is father to Zeus, Hades and Poseidon. Agenor carries around some heavy daddy issues.
And Helius will eventually become a key piece in Perseus’ struggle.
Hades, meanwhile, deceives Zeus as the film opens, then quickly begins to regret the decision to betray his brother.
The story is set in a transitional era in Greek mythology. Kronos is one of the last remaining Titans, and the Olympian gods, led by Zeus, Hades and Poseidon, are greatly weakened by man’s waning devotion to them.
In “Wrath of the Titans,” the gods can die. Poseidon escapes from Tartarus only to give a death bed pep talk to Perseus. He hands over his trident to Perseus then crumbles to dust.
It’s strange and rather deflating to see Greek gods portrayed as mortal. Yes, it fits into that epoch of mythology, but in terms of sheer enjoyment and grandeur, it’s a bit of a letdown.
As is the whole film. It’s merely OK in every way. Just like the first film in the series, a dozen hugely talented actors are mostly wasted. Worthington is a capable actor, but he doesn’t possess the charisma to elevate a film all by himself.
Neeson, Fiennes, Bill Nighy, and the rest perform admirably. Pike is a solid replacement for Alexa Davalos, who played Andromeda in the previous film. Although she doesn’t offer the same irresistible presence as Gemma Arterton, who boosted , “Clash” with her role as Io.
It seems like I write this over and over, but the problems all begin with the script. One wonders why it’s so difficult to find capable screenwriters, especially when there are volumes of Greek myths they could have plundered.
A third film is already planned for the franchise, which now faces an uphill battle. Perhaps Sisyphus has been reincarnated as a Warner Brothers executive.
Jeff Marker teaches film and literature at Gainesville State College. His reviews appear weekly in Get Out and on gainesvilletimes.com/getout.