Don’t feel the ‘Wrath’
Stop-motion monsters, robotic owls and beefy, blue-eyed heroes
It’s cheesy as feta, but 1981’s “Clash of the Titans” is B-movie fun, rightfully holding a fond place in the hearts of fans who’ve watched it since childhood and beyond.
2010’s “Clash of the Titans” remake sought to recapture that lighthearted fun, as if it’d somehow escaped. While – like most of today’s remakes, reboots, retreads and what have you – this revisiting was completely unnecessary, director Louis Leterrier (“The Incredible Hulk”) refused to let the film take itself too seriously.
The result was a modern B-movie, heavy-handed on so-so special effects, gleefully over-the-top with its action and surprisingly entertaining – just unnecessary in almost every respect.
However, considering “Clash’s” dismal reception, its sequel, “Wrath of the Titans,” seems almost like an apology gone awry. Director Jonathan Liebesman overcompensates, bringing the frenetic and humorless style that soiled his previous effort, “Battle: Los Angeles,” to the sword and sandals genre.
Like “Battle,” “Wrath” takes itself too seriously. A weak screenplay and a void of character drains whatever fun there may have been, making the end result mind-numbingly dull. And a movie about the son of a Greek god who wields a magic trident while riding a flying horse to fight a giant lava monster should not be boring.
Sam Worthington (“Man on a Ledge”) returns as Perseus, defeater of Medusa, slayer of the Kraken and, more recently, wearer of a demi-mullet (a nod to its 1980s predecessor, hopefully). Since the death of his wife, he, like the rest of his people, has turned his back on the gods, preferring life as a fisherman and determined to raise his son in peace.
But this religious apathy has its cost. Without prayer, the gods are losing power, and Perseus’ father, Zeus (Liam Neeson, “The Grey”) tells him as much. As their energy dwindles, their creations and devices weaken, including Mt. Tartarus, where the once-powerful titans – the fathers of the gods – are imprisoned.
As the binds loosen, all hell starts breaking loose in Greece, and only Perseus – being half-human – can help. He’s reluctant, of course, and doesn’t truly realize the peril until his village is attacked by a two-headed, fire-breathing beastie.
To make matters worse, Hades (Ralph Fiennes, “In Bruges”) and Ares (Edgar Ramirez, “Che: Part One”) have joined forces with Kronos, leader of the titans, imprisoning Zeus and hoping for the best. Or worst.
To rescue his father, Perseus, fellow demi-god Agenor (Toby Kebbell, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”) and battle-savvy Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike, “Die Another Day”) embark on a magical quest that brings them face-to-face with all sorts of peril.
Along their journey through Greek mythology, they encounter cyclopes (yes, there is a plural for “cyclops”), fight a minotaur, navigate a labyrinth and finally face down Kronos himself, though calling it “him” seems somewhat of a stretch, as this depiction is merely a giant, groaning lava monster.
But despite their desperate quest, there’s never a sense of danger or urgency. The story is so simplistic, with nary a twist or turn, that our heroes are basically just going through the motions.
The actors do their best with what they’ve got, which just isn’t much, making it feel almost embarrassing to see established names like Fiennes and Neeson uttering such hackneyed dialogue.
The only actor who tries to have fun with his role is the always reliable Bill Nighy (“Shaun of the Dead”) as a mad Hephaestus.
Fortunately, the special effects are a considerable improvement on “Clash” – especially with the larger-than-life Kronos – but its post-production 3-D presentation is gimmicky at best. While its predecessor was converted late during post-production, “Wrath” was shot with 3-D in mind, although the results seem hasty and tacked on, the type of presentation content with slinging the occasional object at the audience and nothing more. It’s the kind of 3-D that actually makes the movie flatter.
“Wrath” lacks the rousing, Hades-may-care joviality of the B-movies it seeks to emulate, aiming high but missing its mark. “Math of the Titans” would’ve been more exciting.
“Wrath of the Titans,” rated PG-13 for intense sequences of fantasy violence and action, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone. For show times, see page 27 or visit http://www.mountaintimes.com/movies.