Here’s two things I know for certain – I have never asked to be born to an Irish family of heavy drinkers; and I never stormed the Hollywood studio gates looking for a sequel to Clash of the Titans 2010 edition.
That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy Clash of the Titans. Ok. I didn’t really. But it wasn’t Pluto Nash awful. It was just a jumbled mess of a movie that had no soul. It was literally dead inside.
Still the effects were great. And by ‘effects’ I mean the special effects not the converted 3D effects to which the movie has been lambasted for sapping our money. And I will admit that the odd time I have surfed my television channels, I have stopped a few times to watch a scene or two of the movie that I gave only 2 out of 5 stars just two years back. But eager for a sequel? Nah, I would rather just drink with my drunken relatives.
That didn’t stop the studio from thinking I might want to see a sequel in the story of Perseus, Zeus and Hades et al. And with a near $500 million take on the first attempt, they were likely assured another chest of gold coins if they tried to go bigger and better in a sequel. Hence, Wrath of the Titans, the big budget blockbuster out this Friday.
In Wrath of the Titans, the gang is back. Well, it’s been 10 years since the last adventure that saw a severed Medusa head defeat the Kraken, but Sam Worthington is back as our favorite demigod Perseus and in this particular installment, he goes to the ends of the underworld to help rescue his father Zeus (Liam Neeson seeing more screen time) from his evil brother Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Ares (Édgar Ramírez) who we learn is Zeus’ own son. Throw into the mix that Zeus’ own father, Kronos has a hand in the matter and a plot about the gods and their battles with the imprisoned Titans, and you have the story of Immortals in a nutshell. Opps, I mean Wrath of the Titans. My bad.
Let’s start by examining the good, shall we. The effects in the film are brilliant. The monsters were bigger and the action sequences more intricate in their design and execution. Sure, the Cyclops looked like it had been cut and paste from a Harry Potter film, but all other beasts (and they are aplenty) were well done and menacing when projected upon a big screen.
The second good is actor Bill Nighy who plays Hephaestus. Nighy is almost unrecognizable as the fallen god, but he provides the film’s best lines and offers some comedic relief while Perseus and the gang travel through the treacherous underworld.
Now, the bad. The script isn’t exactly rocket science. Not that an action film needs to have Inceptionisms, but the entire story in Wrath of the Titans is hollow and doesn’t really offer anything of overall substance. Sam Worthington is serviceable as our focused hero, but he lacks the overall charisma or action leading man qualities of a Schwarzenegger or a Statham. Director Jonathan Liebesman can definitely film things going ‘boom’ as evidenced with Battle: Los Angeles, but when we get to the quieter moments – the dramatic moments – he fails to inspire.
A heavy dose of action and not enough on character means that you really won’t care about the outcome. You might want good to triumph over evil, but even if Perseus died, you wouldn’t likely shed a tear. There is just no connection.
And then there’s the 3D. The first film was converted into 3D after being shot in 2D format. The sequel was always intended to be in 3D. Are the effects good? Yeah, but still unnecessary. Just when a film like Hugo reenergizes our interest in the third dimension, along comes Wrath of the Titans and I can’t help but scratch my head and wonder ‘Why?’.
Fans of the first film, will love the second. Those that were sitting on the fence about the first one will likely feel better about the second. But those that didn’t enjoy the first will wonder why they are paying to see the same thing (just louder and with new monsters) a second time.