If we’re being brutally honest, the world wasn’t exactly clamouring for a sequel to the 2010 Clash Of The Titans any more than they were clamouring for a remake of the 1981 version. Visually lush and loaded with a plethora of snarling beasties from Greek mythology, Louis Leterrier’s remake ultimately turned out to be as hollow as a trojan horse and twice as wooden while also unwisely being perfectly ok with the unsavory sexual politics of the ancient Gods – it seems Zeus is intensely fond of both identity theft and rape, something the summer blockbuster chose not to condemn. As not to get too heavy, one thing new director Jonathan Liebesman (Michael Bay’s Ninja Turtle reboot and Michael Bay’s prequel to the Texas Chainsaw remake… says it all, doesn’t it?) does right is to drop that part of the character while still retaining the impressive scale that the mythology demands (after all, Titans aren’t exactly cheap) but while Wrath feels a tad more grounded than it’s predecessor’s more visually broader tastes, it still falls down as regularly as a dizzy toddler on small, insignificant details like plot, characterization, pacing and the ability to be even remotely interesting beyond a spate of noisy and dusty set pieces.
It’s been ten years since Zeus’ son Perseus managed to defeat the massive, bottomless seafood platter known as the Kraken and he’s since settled down to be a simple fisherman and raise the son he had with Gemma Arterton’s Io (who is now deader than denim which presumably made her contract negotiations go far smoother). However, dark forces are amassing in the underworld and imortal bad egg Hades has joined forces with Zeus’ OTHER son Aries to forge a plot where the king of the God’s life force will be used to free Kronos, leader of the Titans and father of the Gods who imprisoned him. Considering how much back alimony Zeus must owe due to the large amount of illegitimate children he’s been seeding, having his life force stolen must feel like a blessed release but due to the downturn in people worshiping them, the God’s are now decidedly in the winter of their existence. This has caused a selection of two headed, fire-breathing, snake tailed creatures known as Chimera to be released and one immediately set about ripping Perseus’ village a new a-hole until he manages to stop the carnage by smiting the shit out of it. Realising that this is probably occuring all over Greece, he saddles up on his flying horse Pegasus and goes to aid Queen Andromeda who over the past decade has not only become a seasoned general but has morphed into a completely different actress (admit it, did YOU know that Rosamund Pike was supposed to be Alexa Davalos from the first movie?). Heading out to save the world (or something) they are guided by Agenor, the deadbeat son of Posidon, who has become a flakey thief because I’m betting Greek Gods don’t have a basement that their loser sons can live and free load in. They seek Hephaestus (also by the look of him he should be named Hepatitis), the blacksmith of the Gods who knows where the secret entrance to Kronos’ prison is but must avoid the bludgeoning attacks of Aries who will do anything to stop them. So can the group stop Aries in time and rescue Zeus before Kronos makes the world a gigantic volcanic crap heap or will the fiery Titan awake and make Greece sizzle?
You know the kind of blockbuster that you can read a book or be on your phone literally all the way through and still not actually miss anything? Well if that kind of film had a face, it would probably look a lot like Wrath Of The Titans – or it might if was even remotely memorable, but this is one of those movies that’s so unremarkable you dread to spare a thought for the filmmakers who chose to spend years of their life dedicated to making it. Huge amounts of effort have obviously been ploughed into Wrath Of The Titans when it comes to designing it’s lush fantasy world and the writhing monsters that populate it and yet barely a fraction of thought has been pumped into making sure any damn thing in this movie actually holds together.
If you thought Sam Worthington had little to work with in the first film, where his entire character arc shifted from “angry” to “slightly less angry”, you’ll be stunned so find that he doesn’t even have THAT here as the only prep that’s required for him in this film is seemingly do some push ups and grow out his hair a bit as he continues to pass the running time by screaming a lot while flinging himself headlong at large, CGI foes.
Yes, I grant you that Worthington isn’t exactly the most versatile of leading men but a least his role is more or less consistent which is more than I can say about anyone else as the film apparently has no idea what to do with ANY of it’s other leads. The lion’s share of Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes scenes take place in a fucking cave – just let that sink in for a second. Two Oscar winning actors are playing the two most powerful Gods in the Greek pantheon in a film with a sizable budget and they spend the majority of their screen time in a dingy, subterranean grotto gruffly saying the word “Brother” to each other a lot. On the other hand, Bill Nighy’s distractingly northern Hephaestus seems to be wildly over acting like he’s in a Monty Python film and Toby Kebbell and Rosamund Pike continue to have their sizable charisma wasted.
Still, at least the monsters are cool right?
Well… no. While most of the spikey creatures are of a decent quality (apart from a trio of jarringly awful CGI Cyclops that may or may not be a nod to Ray Harryhausen’s work from The 7th Voyage Of Sinbad), they are rather poorly utilized – take the Minotaur for example; retconed from a bull headed maze enthusiast to a drooly, cleft-palleted creature, he has nothing much to do with the story except provide an extra heavy for Perseus to quickly vanquish. The awkward treatment of the mythical monsters even spreads to it’s big bag Kronos, a massive end of game boss that (like the Kraken before him) that is so huge he’s virtually impossible to fight and he spends most of his time unleashing splashing lava at people by waving his arms around. All Perseus can do is just fly directly at him on Pegasus and avoid the Titan’s molten skank like something you’d play on the PS4 – you actually almost expect to see the button prompts popping up on screen directing you to steer left or right.
Whereas the 80’s original is an ok film that contains the magic of Ray Harryhausen’s stop motion genius and the reboot has more than it’s fair share of problems, at least they both knuckled down and gave us a variety of slayable beasts for their respective leads to square up to. If all you want to see is Greek mythology REALLY taken apart at the seams, you’d be better served ejecting Wrath and playing God Of War instead as it serves as a far better example of “Dismember The Titans”.