Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Action,Adventure Movie Review of ‘Wrath of the Titans’ (2012)

Movie Review of ‘Wrath of the Titans’ (2012)

Did you see 2010’s Clash of the Titans remake? Judging from the film’s box office gross of almost $500 million and the strong home video sales, there’s a good chance you did. Now here’s another question: did you like it? I’m guessing not… Clash of the Titans was a one-off anomaly which did strong business despite being badly-received, and then, a few months later, nobody cared about it any longer. Added to this, the film is notorious for being the poster child of terrible 3-D since it underwent a hasty conversion in post-production. Two years later, the quickie sequel Wrath of the Titans is now upon us, with the folks at Warner Bros. hoping to turn the profitable but unloved first instalment into a money-making franchise. While this is a better film than its rocky predecessor and while it improves the experience in a number of ways, the filmmakers nonetheless failed to take heed of all previous mistakes. Consequently, there’s still no reason to care about this series.

Approximately a decade after he defeated the Kraken, demigod Perseus (Worthington) has settled into the peaceful life of a fisherman, raising young son Helius (Bell) following the premature death of his wife. The Age of Gods is coming to an end, though; people have stopped praying, and thus the immortality of the Gods is in danger. Perseus’ father Zeus (Neeson) seeks to make peace with his brother Hades (Fiennes), but he’s promptly captured by Hades and Ares (Ramírez), who have joined forces to release the leader of the titans, Kronos, and become immortal. Zeus’ powers are being sapped in order to free Kronos, and Perseus is compelled back into action when news of this reaches his ears. With demigod Agenor (Kebble) and Queen Andromeda (Pike) by his side, Perseus assembles an army and sets out to both free Zeus and forge a super-weapon able to destroy Kronos.

Keen film-goers will recognise that this is pretty much the same plot as 2011’s Immortals. Such familiarity is the least of Wrath of the Titans‘ problems, though. Dan Mazeau and David Johnson’s script is a dangerously dry concoction, ignoring the importance of strong characters in favour of a stripped-down experience devoid of humanity. Critics often overuse the analogy “This movie feels like a video game“, but Wrath of the Titans literally does progress like a typical video game – once the set-up is in place, the film follows a very simple, game-like formula: the characters travel to a new location, look around for a little while, and then have a boss battle. Rinse and repeat. In between, we get a further glimpse of what’s at stake. This culminates with an ultimate boss battle. The characters remain blank slates throughout all of this, and we are never permitted a chance to get to know them or even understand their motivations. Due to how interchangeable all of the characters are, the ensemble cast is the equivalent of a pack of rice cakes. The dialogue is frequently tin-eared, as well. It’s not that the dialogue sticks out as terrible; it’s that it’s too bland to stick out at all.

Clash of the Titans particularly faltered in its climax, as the Kraken was defeated too quickly and easily. Wrath of the Titans likewise fails on this front. While Kronos’ eventual emergence from the bowels of the Earth makes for an awesome reveal, the intimidating monster doesn’t do a great deal at all. Instead, he’s defeated after barely a few minutes of screen combat. As a result, the ending feels too easy and there’s no real tension. As a matter of fact, there’s no suspense or tension to any of the proceedings. At the very least, though, the action sequences are often enjoyable and the film maintains a fun matinee vibe throughout. To the credit of director Jonathan Liebesman, the action elements are far more assured here than in Clash of the Titans. Devoid of irritating shaky-cam, the action beats are a highlight, especially with the impressive digital effects. Like its predecessor, Wrath of the Titans was also converted to 3-D in post-production. Surprisingly, the conversion is astonishingly good, generating a strong sense of three-dimensionality. In fact, if you were none the wiser, you could easily believe that it was filmed with 3-D cameras.

In Clash of the Titans, Sam Worthington had trouble settling on an accent for his role of Perseus, as he haphazardly alternated between faux American to mildly British to Australian. Here, the star completely embraced his native Australian accent and made no effort to change his voice. Such a thick Aussie accent sounds out of place in a movie concerned with Greek mythology, but at least he’s consistent this time. Unfortunately, though, his performance here as a whole is underwhelming. Worthington displayed immense charisma in 2009’s Avatar, but here he seems to be on autopilot. The same can be said for most everyone else in the cast, though Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes do admittedly ooze gravitas as Zeus and Hades (respectively). The only standout is Bill Nighy, but he’s criminally underused. Nighy is a hammy delight as Hephaestus, sparking the picture to life with an injection of sorely-needed personality. Alas, he departs the picture after merely a few short scenes, completing wasting a golden opportunity.

It’s a seriously flawed movie, but at least Wrath of the Titans is not excruciating. It’s forgettable and superficial of course, but it won’t make you lose the will to live. In essence, this is just one of those movies that’s better seen than heard. In visual terms it’s a home run, with luscious CGI and grand set design marvellously selling the illusion of this vast fantasyland. Whenever the characters stop to talk, though, your brain will likely lose interest and switch off, as the picture foregrounds weak actors while utterly wasting the good performers. Just imagine what a picture with eye candy of this magnitude would be like if viewers could become emotionally invested in the characters and their circumstances. Food for thought.

5.5/10

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