Movie Reviews

March 28, 2012

Wrath of the Titans

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Cast:
Sam Worthington as Perseus
Liam Neeson as Zeus
Ralph Fiennes as Hades
dgar Ramrez as Ares
Toby Kebbell as Agenor
Rosamund Pike as Andromeda
Bill Nighy as Hephaestus
Danny Huston as Poseidon
John Bell as Heleus
Lily James as Korrina
Alejandro Naranjo as Mantius

Directed by Jonathan Liebesman

Summary:
If you’re looking for a movie featuring men fighting monsters, then “Wrath of the Titans” delivers. If you’re looking for more, you might be disappointed.

Story:
Ten years after the events of “Clash of the Titans,” Perseus is living the life of a simple fisherman. His wife, Io, is now dead and he’s raising his son by himself, but he’s otherwise happy.

But everything changes when Zeus comes to visit him. It turns out that the Titans have begun escaping from their prison under the Earth in Tartarus. Now all of mankind, along with the gods themselves, is in danger. Zeus asks Perseus to embrace his role as a demi-god and help him, but he refuses.

Zeus departs and attempts to discover why the Titans have been escaping on his own, but Zeus is soon betrayed by Hades and Ares and taken captive. It turns out they are the ones that have been unleashing the Titans on the Earth. They begin using Zeus’ powers to revive Kronos, their long imprisoned Titan father. As Zeus slowly dies and Kronos prepares to escape from Tartarus, Perseus relents and attempts to aid his father. Thus begins his quest save Zeus and all of mankind.

“Wrath of the Titans” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of fantasy violence and action.

What Worked:
Like with its predecessor, the real reason to check out “Wrath of the Titans” is to see big battle scenes between humans and monsters from Greek mythology. On that front, this movie delivers. We’re treated to a battle between Perseus and a two-headed beast (I’m assuming it was an Orthrus). It’s a tense, impressive battle that has the stakes raised because Perseus’ son Heleus is in mortal danger throughout it. Another spectacular battle takes place between our heroes and two Cyclops. Both of these battles feel like something Ray Harryhausen would have done if he could have made a sequel to “Clash of the Titans” in the ’80s. For the big finale, we’re treated to a battle between the enormous Kronos and Perseus and Pegasus. This feels a bit like the battle between Perseus and the Kraken in the first film, but it’s somewhat forgivable since it looks so cool. Kronos flings lava around and it is quite impressive as Perseus and Pegasus fly through it in 3D. For all the beating the first film took for its 2D to 3D conversion, I think they got it right this time.

Besides the cast returning from the first film, we have the addition of Bill Nighy as Hephaestus. He adds some much needed comic relief to the story even if he doesn’t quite fit the description of the god of craftsmen, technology, and volcanoes. dgar Ramrez looks cool as Ares, but we arent given much characterization on him or understanding why he’d betray Zeus. Danny Huston is also cool as Poseidon, but he barely has any screentime. I would have liked to have seen more of him. Toby Kebbell is somewhat memorable as Agenor, a demi-god just discovering his true potential. His story is actually one of the more interesting ones, but he’s not really given enough screentime to do much significant.

What Didn’t Work:
I went into “Wrath of the Titans” somewhat hopeful because the creators essentially had a blank slate to work with. I got hung up in the last film comparing it to the 1980′s film, and that wouldn’t be a factor here. On top of that, there’s not much to the myth of Perseus beyond defeating the Kraken and marrying Andromeda, so there was some opportunity to cut loose and do something new. Unfortunately, the writers didn’t make the most of the opportunity. The story this time around lacks the big, memorable moments of its predecessor like the battle with Medusa or the defeat of the Kraken. It also lacks the big “Hero’s Journey” feel that you expect from any mythological story. Instead the story grabs an odd assortment of things from the Greek Mythology buffet (including a terrible looking Minotaur) and blends them together into what we have here. The story also lacks a lot of logic. Where are the other gods? Why aren’t they helping Zeus? What is Perseus expected to do in a fight that even Zeus apparently can’t win? The answer to everything is simply the fact that they needed Perseus to go on a quest, so it didn’t really matter if anything else made sense. At least when Perseus faced overwhelming odds in the first film, he had a clear series of goals he needed to achieve and accomplishing them gave him the edge he needed to pull off the seemingly impossible. That’s missing here as Perseus pretty much blindly fumbles along through this quest.

The real disappointment, however, is the story between Zeus and Hades. There are a lot of deep, screwed up family relationships in the original mythology, yet this story captures little of that. And if anyone could have done that well, it’s Fiennes and Neeson. Instead, we’re given a relationship that’s rather weak and gets less believable as the story progresses, especially in the big finale. I don’t want to discuss spoilers here, but suffice it to say that I didn’t buy the final resolution between Hades and Zeus.

As much as I like Sam Worthington, even I have to admit that he’s rather flat as Perseus. He has less of a chip on his shoulder this time than he did in the previous movie, but at the same time he doesn’t show much life either. He’s mainly in ‘tough guy’ mode. That’s fine if he has supporting characters to play off of him, but Toby Kebbell alone as Agenor isn’t quite enough.

The Bottom Line:
Overall, “Wrath of the Titans” is about on par with its predecessor. I rated it a tad lower because of the script issues, but I think most people that liked the first one will like this. I took my two young sons to this movie in IMAX 3D and they loved it. So while it does have problems, I feel like it’s worth checking out in 3D on the big screen if for no other reason than to check out the big fight scenes.

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