It is truly a story as old as time – betrayals, grudges, back-stabbing, powerful beings exiled from their fellows, sweaty men in armored breastplates and skirts. But, enough about Ru Paul’s Drag Race, we’re here to talk about Wrath of the Titans…
You should know up front that this movie’s predecessor, Clash of the Titans, left such a nasty taste in my mouth that I was, quite literally, dreading this movie. In CotT, Sam Worthington’s acting seemed limited to three facial expressions, the plot was nonsensical and the 3D effects were pretty lame. Based on that standard of excellence, I can honestly say Wrath is better than Clash, but it still isn’t what I like to call "good."
This go-round, Perseus (Worthington), son of Zeus (Liam Neeson), has been living quietly for 10 years, trying to pass himself off as a fisherman while raising his son, Helius (John Bell). His wife is dead, being one of few actors smart enough not to sign on for the sequel. Daddy drops by for a visit and tells Perse the time of the gods is almost over, since mortals don’t pray to them anymore. Apparently, Greek gods are just like Tinkerbell - if you don’t clap your hands and believe hard enough, they turn into statues and then dust, in rapid succession.
The major problem with the time of the gods coming to an end is that all their creations will end with them, one of those being the prison Tartarus that holds Zeus’ dad, Kronos. Apparently, Kronos has no need for worshipers to give him power, and when he gets sprung, he is going to open an Acropolis-sized can of Destroy Everything. So, Zeus asks Perseus to join him and fellow Gods Poseidon (Danny Huston), Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Ares (Édgar Ramírez), in securing Kronos for all time. Perseus declines, but after a few quick betrayals and some firsthand examples of what awaits humanity if Kronos escapes, he finds himself doing what he always does -- going on a scavenger hunt with a few companions to pick up something that will save the day.
The sidekicks are adequately portrayed by Andromeda (Rosamund Pike, replacing Alexa Davalos), the girl who gets to be Perseus’ love interest simply by being the only woman on-screen with more than five lines; and Poseidon’s son, Agenor (Toby Kebbell), who resembles a Grecian Dave Grohl and provides what passes for comic relief. The acting is lifeless almost across the board, although Worthington seems to have added a fourth expression to his facial repertoire.
Paying the extra bucks to see this in 3D is a poor investment, as the effects are, once again, unimpressive. Other visuals happen at breakneck speed, so you’re not really sure most of the time what is attacking whom, or where anybody is flying or falling. Same problem with the whirling creatures that rise from the underworld and start mowing through Andromeda’s army like Roombas on steroids -- they’re seldom seen long enough for your mind to register: “Oh, it’s a guy with two torsos and six arms.” These are probably based on Hecatonchires, giants with 50 heads and 100 arms, but CGI artists get paid time and a half for anything over eight arms, so that wasn’t gonna happen.
If a film isn’t holding my interest, I find myself pulling at loose plot threads and coming up with questions. Like, if the gods are losing their power because people don’t pray to them, why doesn’t Perseus tell Andromeda’s army to pray to Zeus and recharge his god-battery? I mean, if you’re a god who needs adoration to live, maybe stop by every so often and toss a couple of thunderbolts around. Clearly, if you liked Clash of the Titans, you will probably love this, as it is an improvement, but for me it was a pretty run of the mill, joyless improvement. Near the end of the film Zeus says to one of his fellow gods: “Let’s have some fun.” If only Wrath of the Titans had heeded his command.