Sam Worthington couldn't make it this time so they replaced him with Kenny %@#$-ing Powers and his mullet of awesomeness and one of the ladies from Pride and Prejudice. But you knew that already.

What you might not be aware of is that they also removed something else from this sequel that nobody on Earth except bankers wanted. All that eye strain from the first film's horrible 3D conversion has now been eradicated and replaced with extra boredom. It throws into relief the fact that the mysteriously inept terribleness from before -- the way Ralph Fiennes's face floated out half a foot in front of his hair, Liam Neeson's glowy, fuzzy, aluminum, Grace Jones battle armor, the script seemingly written by a program that randomly ordered words into sentences, the murky swamp of darkened battle sequences -- was exactly the stuff that kept you entertained in between the moments you napped. Okay, that stuff and the stick-monsters that were also sort of like Ewoks. They were kind of cool.

This time you're provided with clear, crisp, bright-as-day everything, a freshly solemn Neeson and Fiennes deciding that it would be embarrassing to goof off so brazenly again (Neeson: "We must forget the past and fight!") and a structure more akin to a a video game. They fight. They rest. They fight. They talk. They fight. At least you can follow it.

Like when Andromeda (Rosamund Pike, the P&P alum) yells, "Perseus! Hurry!" you understand that they are in a dangerous situation against some sort of foe who wants them to die. After she yells those words, Perseus obediently hurries and does something valiant. Also, when Perseus finally rides a pegasus into the on-fire esophagus of big bad Kronos, as least you know which part of the body he's in. If this were the first film you'd just think he'd become trapped inside a flaming lower intestine. When one of the characters--okay, yes, I forget who--says, "It has begun" and they've got a serious face on, that's when you know that the Wrath is about to get going. And later, when Andromeda and the army guys shake their spears in the air and go, "AAAARRRRGGHHH!" you understand that they are ready to fight some more. These are major improvements in the franchise.

Except, in a real way, not really. Because sure, now you kind of know more about what's actually happening, at least until mid-battle when it gets confusing again and you don't. But unless you're the reincarnation of some other great director, rather than the guy who also made Battle: Los Angeles, and unless you're working from a script that wasn't hacked into with dull sporks by a committee of notes-giving studio guys, your movie is going to still wind up a sequel to Clash of the Titans, in which all hope for an outcome of UnStupidity must be abandoned. And something tells me that only the smart-alecky Hephaestus (Bill Nighy) got to speak dialogue originally written by first-timer Dan Mazeau and David Leslie Johnson (a non-first-timer, responsible for the excellently deranged Orphan). He's got the movie's lone spark of life. That usually means you can thank a real writer.

Someday, somebody's going to make a contemporary, smart, exciting popcorn movie about Greek gods and their adventures. That day is not today. And that day is, unfortunately, probably also not tomorrow. Near the end, post-fighting, the movie offers a finale that allows for another installment. It'll sink your heart. And when Neeson intones, "No more sacrifices, no more gods..." and his words hang in the air, you'll wish for one of the MST3K robots to yell, "No more sequels!" But they won't be in the theater with you. You'll have to do it yourself.


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