STARRING Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Rosamund Pike, Bill Nighy, Ralph Fiennes, Toby Kebbell DIRECTED BY Jonathan Liebesman SCREENPLAY Beverley Cross (1981 Screenplay), Dan Mazeau (Story), David Johnson (Story), Greg Berlanti (Story), Steven Knight (Screenplay) MPAA RATING Rated PG-13 RUNNING TIME 99 Mins. DISTRIBUTED BY Warner Brothers DVD EXTRAS Maximum Movie Mode; Focus Points; Deleted Scenes
"Wrath of the Titans" Review
The good news is that Wrath of the Titans, the follow up to Clash of the Titans, is markedly superior to that financially successful but critically panned film.
Of course, that's sort of like saying that one's second bowel movement felt better than the first. They're still bowel movements.
The film picks up a decade after Perseus (Sam Worthington) has defeated the Kraken. Perseus, the demigod and son of Zeus (Liam Neeson), has retired from his battling ways and is now a fisherman raising his son. As is always true of our demigods and superheroes, Perseus is pulled back into battle when Perseus is kidnapped by Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and he must journey through a labyrinth to Tarsarus in order to rescue him.
If you actually care about story, well, that's about it.
Wrath of the Titans doesn't exist to tell you a story, but instead to blow you away with the sheer awesomeness of its 3-D special effects. At times feeling like an overblown Transformers (itself overblown), Wrath of the Titans is almost mind-numbing in the number and intensity of its fireballs, exploding mountains, methodical battles and grand-scale imagery. There are a couple of scenes that work extraordinarily well followed by scenes of almost painful mediocrity and nonsensical dialogue.
Fortunately, Wrath of the Titans has experienced a significant upgrade in the talent department and, quite honestly, even when the dialogue is insipid the cast is often able to sell it.
At times, Wrath of the Titans reminded me of M. Night's The Last Airbender, another film that attempted to serve up exceptional 3-D imagery only to fail massively. While there's no question that Wrath of the Titans is more successful than was The Last Airbender, that may again take us back to the whole bowel movement discussion. The director here, Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles), never gets a grip on the film's murky imagery and cloudy underground setting.
2010's Clash of the Titans was a larger-than-life rehash of its 1980's predecessor, however, it was also a film that maintained a good degree of the predecessor's campy goofiness. While that approach obviously worked for many, for virtually any discerning moviegoer it was a remarkable disappointment. Wrath of the Titans is even more larger than life, but it's less campy and remarkably more human even when dealing with not quite fully humans. It does help to have a superior cast, including the returning Sam Worthington, a breezy and convincing Rosamund Pike, an inspired Bill Nighy and Liam Neeson's always dependable conviction. Ralph Fiennes, the film's resident baddie, even presents his Hades as somewhat conflicted with a sort of glimmer in his eyes.
Wrath of the Titans is a far grittier film and a more entertaining one, but as was true with the predecessor the beasts in the film remain disappointing and given the film is in 3-D it's a bummer that Liebesman doesn't do more to take advantage of the technology available.
It will be interesting to see what kind of a box-office draw that Wrath of the Titans will be, but with a more successful blending together of fun and fantasy this is one sequel that bucks the odds and improves upon the original.