Wrath of the Titans (2012)
Directed by Jonathan Liebesman
For a sequel that no one was really asking for Wrath of the Titans actually manages to deliver some decent (albeit ultimately brainless) entertainment for those of you who are fans of these swords and sandals-type spectacle flicks.
Sure, it's not exactly a story you haven't seen before (and perhaps even done better in other films) but at a swift 99 minute running time, Wrath still manages to cook up a few surprises and evoke some awe with some pretty incredible visual effects work that is a zillion times better than anything seen in its predecessor.
At the start of Wrath of the Titans, we find demigod Perseus (Sam Worthington) ten years removed from defeating the Kraken and now living an unassuming life as a fisherman with his son in a small village. The reluctant hero finds himself once again pressed into battle as he's forced to rescue his father- the God Zeus (Liam Neeson) who's been imprisoned by his backstabbing son Ares (Edgar Ramirez) the God of War and his underhanded brother Hades (Ralph Fiennes)- God of the underworld.
Faced with the task of having to go to Hell for his mission, Perseus realizes he needs the help of a few of his friends so he teams up with Poseidon's half-human son, Agenor (Toby Kebbell) and Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) to save Zeus before an even more powerful force can be released- Kronos, the God of all Gods who threatens the existence of both man and immortals if he can break free from his prison.
As someone who only made it through about 35 minutes of the Clash remake, Wrath of the Titans feels like a vast improvement even if it's still not exactly cinematic perfection by any stretch of the imagination. The returning players (Worthington, Neeson and Fiennes) all seem to be far more comfortable in their roles this time with both Neeson and Fiennes looking like they're having the time of their lives during a huge fight scene in the third act.
Pike and Kebbell play well against Worthington's more straight-forward performance (man, would I love to see this guy just let loose once!) and Nighy (always a personal favorite of this writer) pretty much steals the movie as Hephaestus, the blacksmith and armorer to the gods who provides most of the film's lighter moments with a humorously bizarre Gollum-like performance.
But as expected, the visual and special effects work ends up being the real star of the show with both the world and the creatures of Wrath of the Titans feeling larger than life and as mentioned previously, a huge step forward from what Clash delivered. The action set pieces are effective with Liebesman doing his best to mix things up a bit; Perseus’ battle with a two-headed dragon is a grappling, brute force showdown while his experiences outwitting a gang of Cyclops' has our hero acting a little lighter on his feet.
What we are all waiting for (once it's teased at the opening) is Perseus' penultimate battle against the giant Kronos, embodied in dripping lava and billowing smoke, which ends up becoming an enthralling feat of grandeur and spectacle for the eyes; fans should be pleased.
While I can't speak from experience about whether or not the 3D is an improvement in Wrath of the Titans over the converted 3D of Clash since I've only ever experienced the first film in 2D, I can say that the 3D for Wrath was pretty immersive and played up the fantasy elements of the story incredibly well. If 3D isn't your thing then Wrath will surely still be just as enjoyable in 2D; but for a few extra bucks, there is something to be said for experiencing Kronos and all his gooey lava-esque glory in three dimensions.
Liebesman, fresh off directing the completely forgettable Battle: Los Angeles, actually does a decent job helming Wrath of the Titans with his only downfall is playing things just a little too safe at times, especially with a storyline that pretty much stays on the rails from start to finish. Despite all that, Liebesman does manage to nail down the scope and the feel of this world far better than Louis Leterrier did in the Clash remake, with both the real and created worlds feeling far more vibrant this time around.
As sort of the red-headed step child of releases this Spring, Wrath of the Titans managed to surprise me a bit by being rather mindlessly entertaining just as long as I didn't try to think too hard. But that's really what these movies are- big popcorn spectacle movies that are easily digestible and meant to entertain you in the theater. Wrath definitely delivers on that promise despite being bogged down a very paint-by-numbers story; that being said, this movie is really for the fans and if you're not exactly someone who was anticipating its release, the sequel probably won't do much to persuade you. However, if you just want to sit back and turn your brain off for 99 minutes of adventure and marvel, then Wrath of the Titans may be worth your while.
3 out of 5