Clash of the Titans was not an awful movie – or rather, wouldn’t have been if the 3D hadn’t been so bad – but it was no great fantasy-action flick, either. Wrath of the Titans may actually have less plot – less actual story – but it is superior in every way. In fact, it is a decent enough time-waster for a spring afternoon – it moves quickly, has glorious special effects, the CG effects have genuine heft and the 3D is quite wonderful.
Simply put, the story for Wrath of the Titans is this: Hades [Ray Fiennes] and Ares [Edgar Ramirez] betray Zeus [Liam Neeson] and kill Poseidon [Danny Huston], forcing the demigods Perseus [Sam Worthington], son of Zeus, and Agenor [Toby Kebbel], son of Poseidon, to find a way to defeat their plan to give Kronos, father of the gods, Zeus’ power.
The two demigods must band together with Queen Andromeda [the extraordinarily beautiful Rosamund Pike], find The Fallen One – Hephaestaus [Bill Nighy] – combine Zeus’ lightning bolt, Poseidon’s trident and Hades’ pitchfork into the only weapon that can stop the 1500-foot tall titan [whose rock and lava composition kept reminding me of a super-ultra-jumbo-sized version of the Jack Kirby Lava Men from Thor’s early adventures in Journey Into Mystery].
Outside of a few moments at the beginning of the film, when Perseus chooses not to accompany Zeus and Ares on a trip to the Underworld to visit Hades [a good thing, it turns out], there are precious few character beats beyond the obvious. Most of the film’s ninety-seven minutes are spent dodging flying objects [rocks, snares and so forth], battling chimeras, cyclopses [cyclopsi?] and other mythological creatures and then confronting a very pissed off Ares – before the heroes finally have to find their way into the Underworld through a very odd, three-dimensionally moving labyrinth – a kind of Greek-Deco-Escher construct that houses the film’s best practical effect – a completely physical, GC-unenhanced minotaur.
There’s an encounter with Hephaestus that provides most of the film’s humor – he carries on a running conversation with our heroes and a mysterious other that gets one of the biggest laughs in the film. The rest of the humor comes from Agenor, the big disappointment in Poseidon’s family – he’s a thief/conman and captive of Andromeda when we meet him. [and why is it always that the thief gets the best lines?]
Another plus is that Wrath somehow manages to be truer to Greek mythology than Clash… marginally, but noticeably.
After you deduct six minutes of credits, Wrath is full tilt mayhem for about eighty-five of the remaining ninety-one minutes, so it does seem to just zip past. Director Jonathan Liebesman certainly has his phaser set on puree for most of the movie. The big question is how it could have taken three people [Greg Berlanti plus screenwriters David Johnson and Dan Mazeau] to come up with the miniscule story.
Still, if you’re looking for action, fighting, spectacular effects [practical and/or CG] and all of them practically falling in your lap, then Wrath of the Titans is just the popcorn movie for you.
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Photos courtesy of Warner Bros.