Wrath of the Titans. In 2010, the classic film Clash of the Titans was remade with Sam Worthington, fresh off the success of Avatar. The movie was entertaining but lacked depth and was a real disappointment to anyone that was a fan of the original.
Well, here we are just a few years later and we’re treated to a sequel. It sounded like a strange idea to me, since the original was generally perceived as a flop (at least critically, maybe not financially). So when I saw the first trailer for Wrath of the Titans, I was surprised. As the trailer progressed though, I became more and more enthralled. They weren’t bound by a set storyline and so they could be a little more creative. The film looked (to many fans) like a movie based on God of War (a staple among Playstation video game fans). Unfortunately, it lacks a lot of the character from God of War and doesn’t really show anything we didn’t already see in the trailers.
The basics. We follow Sam Worthington as Perseus, a half-god son of Zues (Liam Neeson). He’s trying to live a normal life but of course something crazy happens that draws him back into the action. Notorious bad-guy gods Hades and Ares team up to unleash Kronos, the father of the gods. He has been imprisoned in the depths of the earth and he’s pissed. So now Perseus must race against the clock and stop Kronos from destroying the world. He’s joined by another half-god Agenor (played by Toby Kebbell, from War Horse, Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and RocknRolla). Kebbell adds some much-needed comedic relief and is one of the few people that have some chemistry with Worthington.
So what works?
It’s a cool story and one that utilizes enough of ancient Greek mythology to seem familiar but they can also play with the details since it’s an original tale. They pack in all sorts of monsters, which is what this franchise is known for. For the most part, these monsters were all fairly unique and the CG work was pretty stellar. I commend them for bringing to life the Chimera, something I’ve never seen in a film. For the uninitiated (and those with lives), a Chimera has three heads (a lion, goat, and a snake) and wings. I would’ve thought a live-action film would be too scared to attempt this. Mostly, it worked. The chimera was the first monster we’re introduced to and it’s a pretty epic battle. The only complaint is that its tail (which is the snake’s head) was downplayed and the CG work was lacking. Other big bad monsters included an amazing fight with some Cyclops, a minotaur in its labyrinth, and the final battle with Kronos and his lava lackeys. It was fast-paced and the action scenes were all fairly unique and enjoyable. That is why I saw the movie.
Again, Toby Kebbell as half-god Agenor was charismatic and engaging and was one of the few characters with any sort of development. Most characters started and ended in generally the same state. Ralph Fiennes as Hades and Liam Neeson as Zues got some more screentime this time around and they both did well with what was written.
What doesn’t work?
While a few characters stood out, most characters were relatively flat. This is still a drastic improvement over its predecessor, which was packed to the rim with uninteresting characters. It’s a relatively small cast this time around but that makes it even more saddening that these roles weren’t substantial. Worthington and his leading lady Andromeda (Rosamund Pike, Surrogates, Doom, and Die Another Day) both were flat and had zero chemistry. Ares, the god of War, was just angsty and seemed like a one-trick pony. At a mere 99 minutes, they could’ve added in some serious character development and still had time to spare.
When you see the trailers for this movie, you think it’s going to be a sprawling epic. Well, it might seem like that when you’re in the midst of the action, but when the world opens up, the movie fails to show you any sense of scope. Perseus spends the whole movie trying to get into the realm of Hades and when they finally arrive, there is no one there. Shouldn’t Hell be full of restless souls or people imprisoned or something? It just felt like a cave. And in the final climax, the battle zooms out and shows the mortal army and it’s really underwhelming. They could’ve gone through the effort of popping in a few extra hundred CGI soldiers or something.
And here’s another complaint that makes the world hard to buy into. It looks like every outdoor scene (save a forest battle with the Cyclops) is shot in a quarry. Is that what Greece looks like? The entire film is dark and monotone and could’ve used a flash of color.
Oh, and this is kind of misleading. Kronos is really the only titan in the movie. I was expecting some Prometheus action or something but it’s really just him. A little disappointing.
Here’s the thing. It’s not a great film. It’s shallow and somewhat unengaging. But I couldn’t stop from grinning during some of these battles. There’s an inner child in me that remembers all the Greek mythology I used to be obsessed with and watching a Chimera tear through a village just made me smile because it’s something I’ve never seen. And even though I didn’t care about Worthington’s character, watching him face down a gargantuan titan made of lava is pretty incredible. So, for that, I give the film a 3/5. Decent. You probably won’t watch it a 2nd time but the first time will be a fun ride… you’ll soon forget.