Wrath of the Titans – Movie Review
It can hardly be argued that Hollywood’s favorite recent trend is to remake almost every film in existence. Sequels to these remakes are uncommon, but such is the case for Wrath of the Titans, a sequel to the remake of Clash of the Titans (which was released in early April 2010). It’s a shame that that film was released on my dad’s birthday, because we had decided to see Clash of the Titans on that day and were treated to a disappointing, dumb, computer-generated cheesefest. When I saw the trailer for this sequel, I expected more ridiculousness, but still I had that shred of hope that the executives at Warner Bros. had learned some valuable lessons from the first film. With that said, is Wrath of the Titans an action movie worthy of the gods or yet another travesty doomed for eternity?
Once again, the story follows Perseus (Sam Worthington), a demigod who is one of the sons of Zeus (Liam Neeson). Wrath of the Titans picks up a decade following its predecessor, and Perseus is now a widower trying to raise his son Helius (John Bell) as a humble fisherman. However, Zeus is not so willing to let Perseus forget his destiny, for the Greeks are not praying to the gods, and thus the gods are losing their power. Additionally, the walls of the underworld prison known as Tartarus are breaking down due to that lack of loyalty from the Greeks, increasing the potential threat of allowing Kronos (the wrathful, demonic father of Zeus, Hades and Poseidon) to wreak havoc as in days of old. Despite the threats, Perseus refuses to get involved in favor of living a life with his son. Soon after, Zeus meets with his brothers Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Poseidon (Danny Huston), along with his son Ares (Edgar Ramirez) in the underworld to forget the past and repair Tartarus. Things take some unexpected turns, and soon Perseus must employ the help of a few adventurers and journey to prevent the ultimate destruction of their world…
I’m just going to say it: not a lot of people liked Clash of the Titans (myself included). That film was just a dumb, cheesy, CGI-bloated excuse for a film about Greek mythology that favored style over substance (although you have to admit, that film did have style for what it was). Having read user reviews on IMDb and Flixster, the general consensus is that Wrath of the Titans is a slightly better film than the original. Yes, to some extent it is, but to be honest here, that hardly means anything in this case. Just like its predecessor, Wrath of the Titans is still a by-the-numbers action film, which after a while the action set pieces get rather repetitive. This also means that the script is terrible, true character development is nowhere to be seen, and the story is extremely predictable considering that it follows a structure similar to most films about Greek mythology. Everything related to the story just feels forced and clichéd, simple as that.
I guess you could say those same things about John Carter, because that film also suffers from similar problems as a fantasy action flick, but for some strange reason that film is more engaging on a cinematic level. Wrath of the Titans’ character development is very lousy in comparison (as I already noted), for you can literally learn one thing about their personalities and then that’s how they are for basically the entire film. Thus, the characters of this film are one-sided and hardly have much depth. The way that the “romance” between Perseus and Andromeda climaxes in the end made me laugh (not in a good way). Also, do you remember how in the first film the gods kept saying “brother” to one another? Yes, that happens again. My dad and I eventually just started playing a game in which we counted how many times the cast said that word to each other (I lost count, but I’m sure that they said it over 20-30 times… HOLY CRAP!) I suppose the main reason why people have said that this film is an improvement over Clash of the Titans is that the storytelling has “matured,” and I agree with that to some point. Wrath of the Titans is certainly a much grittier adventure than the original film was, making the events in the film more intense and believable (if only to a miniscule extent). I also enjoyed that this film was slightly shorter as well (although going into it, I thought that I wouldn’t). Despite these two upsides though, Wrath of the Titans failed to improve upon its predecessor’s cheesiness, laughable storytelling, flat humor and repetitive action.
Sadly for the good cast, the acting here is just as bad (perhaps even worse). I have pity for Sam Worthington, because he definitely has potential as an actor (I don’t care what everyone has said about him, I truly believed his performance in Avatar), but he’s always cast in these stupid films! If Worthington had better material to work with, I think that people would view him as a much more credible actor, but unfortunately for him it’s obviously not possible to perform at his best in a film like this. In many scenes it looks like he’s almost ready to burst out laughing due to some ridiculous lines of dialogue, and it gets old whenever he has to scream (which happens plenty). Simply put, Sam Worthington certainly looks the part, but his Perseus is just like any other hero you’ve seen from a film based on Greek mythology (the script is to blame, though). Otherwise, a lot of talent in this film is wasted. Bill Nighy definitely deserved more screentime due to how talented he is (although his performance was slightly over-the-top), as opposed to the more frequent appearances from Rosamund Pike, Edgar Ramirez and Toby Kebbell (who some might remember from Prince of Persia). I’ve always loved Ralph Fiennes (have you ever noticed that he’s great at playing villains, especially since he was Voldemort?) and Liam Neeson, and here they’re enjoyable in the scenes they are in. Still, this film definitely won’t be a great thing to include on the cast members’ résumés.
As one might expect from the film’s trailers, Wrath of the Titans triumphs with its special effects, although CGI is overused on multiple occasions. Kronos’ presence onscreen is an awe-striking wonder when he enters the film in its final scenes, and anyone looking forward to that scene most likely won’t be disappointed. During the film, I clearly saw the influence that director Jonathan Liebesman had on the production of Wrath of the Titans, because he uses very similar filmmaking techniques to those he used in last year’s Battle: Los Angeles: explosions (and more, and more, and MORE explosions), some instances of shaky cam, and a smart blend of real backdrops with CGI. These things make Wrath of the Titans quite a visually appealing film, but even so, sometimes the visual effects can be a little too overwhelming. The direction often gets in the way of the action, making some of the action sequences incoherent messes of CGI and hyper editing (Michael Bay meets Greek mythology?), while not focusing enough on the characters. Also, even though fire is a key element of the production design, it gets really repetitive when it appears in nearly every single scene in the film (Kronos, a crapload of explosions, lava, etc). Nonetheless, Wrath of the Titans is still a visual effects spectacle, notwithstanding the overuse of special effects in some cases. Sound design is no less impressive, and the musical score from Javier Navarrete is nothing special, but it does nicely set up some of the action sequences and other similar scenes in the film.
Once again, it seems that Warner Bros. has let us down with its handling of Greek mythology. If you hated Clash of the Titans, you will most likely hate the sequel as well, for Wrath of the Titans still retains its predecessor’s reputation for poor storytelling, mediocre acting, and repetitive action sequences. Nonetheless, it will still provide a lot of entertainment for some, the film is undoubtedly wondrous to the eyes if you are a huge fan of special effects (particularly computer-generated), and this film is also somewhat reverent to many creatures from Greek mythology. When all is said and done, though, the best action films mix together both story and action seamlessly, and Wrath of the Titans is certainly not one of those films. If you are a proud fan of good film, then stay atop the Mount Olympus of the movie world and don’t step down to this level (unless you want to hear everyone say “brother” to each other five billion times).
Jason Bakker, Editor-in-Chief, Metal Arcade
I thought Wrath Of The Titans was a fun movie. It seemed to have more of an identity than Clash Of The Titans, which appeared trapped within the confines of the 1981 original’s script. Since there never was a sequel to Clash, the filmmakers had a lot more freedom to do what they thought would make for a good Greek Mythology-centered movie this time around. And they embrace that mythology wholeheartedly (if you’ve played God Of War 3 you’ll get a kick out of this movie), showcasing not only many of the lower-tier monsters, but also showing off the great Titan Kronos (who looked awesome by the way) and giving all of the gods much more screen time this time around. For instance, in Clash, Poseidon was nothing more than a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him cameo, and here his personality is much more fleshed out. We even get to meet his son, who is a central character to the film. There’s a lot of action, the computer graphics are for the most part fantastic, and the acting wasn’t terrible. Liam Neeson is once again fantastic as Zeus (perfect casting), and Ralph Fiennes not only looks like he could be his brother, but of course is well in tune with his evil side from his seven film stint as Voldemort. Sam Worthington is serviceable as Perseus, but he hardly stands out and is definitely a bit wooden. I only had two real gripes- Bill Nighy was definitely a bit over the top as basically a drunken Davy Jones in his turn as the fallen god Hephaestus (though him talking to the owl was pretty great), and it bothered me that Kronos is the only Titan shown in the film when it’s Titans, plural, in the film’s title. Regardless, it’s inarguably superior to the first film and I recommend it for those looking for an action flick to watch in the time between now and when The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and The Amazing Spider-Man hit theaters.
Jason’s Rating: 3/5