Clashing with Titans can take a lot out of a demigod. After doing so in 2010’s aptly named Clash of the Titans, Perseus (Sam Worthington) has retired to live as a simple fisherman, raising his son alone after the mysterious disappearance of Gemma Arterton at the hands of the screenwriters. He also kind of hates his father Zeus (Liam Neeson), who nevertheless comes to Perseus seeking his help: in this day and age, no one prays to the gods anymore, which weakens them. If they die, the ancient god Kronos, Zeus’ own father, will be released from hell to shoot fire and punch mountains and do whatever it is that angry lava titans do.
Meanwhile, Hades (Ralph Fiennes, most recently seen as Voldemort but now with hair and a nose), who also happens to be the son of Kronos, has struck a deal with daddy to imprison Zeus, siphoning his power to release Kronos from his prison so he can enact his…wrath upon the world. Joining him is Zeus’ other son, Ares (Edgar Ramirez), who hates his father for favoring Perseus. Perseus needs to save his father, but to do so must enlist the help of another demigod, Agenor (Toby Kebbell), son of Poseidon and a major jackass. What with all of this you might be inclined to believe that Wrath of the Titans has a lot of familial drama. Realistically, the film doesn’t take long to get all of that out of the way so it can get down to blowing some shit up and doing the film’s title justice.
This picture came up under the Google search “action”. Alcohol was involved.
All things aside, there is absolutely no getting around the fact that Wrath of the Titans looks fantastic. The film is a technical marvel, from well-rendered and detailed demons and some very robust-looking explosions. The middle of the film showcases a massive labyrinth leading to Tartarus filled with shifting walls and rotating doors. The whole thing just looks really, really cool. The movie’s main monster, the massive lava god (at least in this case) Kronos featured on the poster, is one of the most impressive CG creations I can remember ever seeing on the big screen.
That brings me to the second reason for the toast. The last half hour of this film is insane. The arrival of Kronos heralds a parade of mayhem: gods tear through an entire army, Perseus and Ares throw each other through walls and pillars in their own fight (in a weird, almost guiltily awesome WWE: Greece sort of way), and Kronos himself makes an entire mountain explode with one sweep of his hand. The action in most of the movie is quite good, particularly the bits with Ares—whenever he appears, you know it’s going to go down, and hard. There is nary a dull moment to be had in Wrath.
Also, Liam Neeson.
The shift in directors initially scared me. The first film was under the fairly talented hand of Louis Leterrier, most famous for the Transporter films, which themselves are little more than Audi-sponsored demo reels of Jason Statham kicking people. Nevertheless, they were fun, as was Clash, in that special sort of shitty that you try to hide the fact you’re smiling at it. This time around, we’ve got Jonathan Liebesman, who directed the Battle: Los Angeles, which was that special sort of shitty fun that isn’t fun and just plain shitty. This was mainly for a horrible shaky-camera effect that would have made Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Parkinson’s), um…green with envy (god, I am terrible).
Wrath isn’t as bad as all that, but there are still a few poorly-shot scenes that are very difficult to figure out what is going on, particularly the Cyclops battle in a forest and a very-quickly cut fight with a minotaur in a labyrinth. Liebesman tries to have some fun with his action sequences, getting creative with quick zoom-in and shaking, but it translates poorly to the 3D, which is kind of sad because when the 3D works, there are some neat novelty “jump out” shots.
IT’S LIKE SOMETIMES YOU CAN TOUCH THE WRATH
Wrath is a touch misguided. It tries to do a lot in its under-two-hours running time, and comes up a bit short as a result. It explores some interesting things, such as how the labyrinth leading to Tartarus plays tricks on the mind, but that idea lasts literally ten seconds before getting abandoned. There’s also the occasional slavish devotion to certain mythological tropes. Indeed, the appearance of a minotaur seems to be requisite for any movie featuring gods and sandals in movies these days. There’s also family feuding, a mad scientist who created magical tools for the god, and a quest for the world’s most powerful weapon. And a war. This is a busy movie—almost too busy. The comic relief is good, but also occasionally a bit misplaced, lessening the excitement of a couple of the action scenes. It wasn’t as huge a deal as a certain other film series, but it was there.
Hint: it rhymes with “Pantsformers”
Wrath of the Titans features many improvements over the original: a better story, better direction and better action for starters, and while the missed opportunity of not making the film’s tagline Titans Will Wrath is tragic, this movie isn’t afraid to have some fun (even with the lack of something as corny as Clash’s “Release the Kraken” line, the movie still sneaks in a couple of good bits). What Wrath boils down to is a silly mythological action flick with plenty of thrills and some outstanding special effects. If what you see in the trailer seems like something you could have some stupid, alcohol-fueled fun with, you won’t be disappointed. Otherwise, you can just go watch The King’s Speech with a glass of cheap wine.
“I would prefer the literature version.”
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time you wonder how someone from ancient Greece got an Australian accent.
Take a Drink: when you feel like an ass for being prejudiced against Australian actors.
Take a Drink: for every time something from classic mythology is butchered.
Do a Shot: for every wrestling move you can name during the Perseus/Ares fight.