Wrath of the Titans Directed by: Jonathan Liebesman Cast: Sam Worthington, Toby Kebbell, Rosamund Pike, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes Running Time: 1 hr 40 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: March 30, 2012
PLOT: Perseus (Worthington) goes into the underworld to save his father Zeus (Neeson) and prevent Hades (Fiennes) from unleashing Titans upon the Earth.
WHO'S IT FOR?: If you witnessed the first movie, Clash of the Titans, and actually remember some of it, there's a chance you'll have some fun with Wrath of the Titans. Otherwise, those who are looking for a really worthwhile experience to spend fifteen dollars should probably just go see The Hunger Games again.
EXPECTATIONS: This wasn't a sequel I "asked" for, but the images I had seen on buses and posters (of all places) had piqued my blockbuster appetite curiosities. Just how bad could a follow-up to an incredibly mediocre successful movie be? Even if the script scampers, will the special effects/and or the 3D make this a slightly more watchable experience?
Sam Worthington as Perseus: Worthington is officially (if he wasn't already) an interchangeable action star who only needs to look believable when covered in blood and dirt. Working with that criteria, Worthington gets the job done. As for being an exciting surrogate into the mythological experience? Not so much. Aside from a boyishly shaggy haircut, he's notably unspectacular in this movie, especially with his whispering while insisting on keeping his Australian accent. Score: 5
Toby Kebbell: as Agenor: This is where the "comedic relief" comes from with Wrath of the Titans, but Kebbell is so cheaply winky with this performance you won't be laughing. It's like he was trying to do Russell Brand, but only nailed the annoying aspects of the famous comedian. Score: 4
Rest of Cast: Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes attempt to add some Shakespearean nature to Wrath of the Titans with a godly sibling rivalry, which might make for the most interesting non-SFX component of the entire story. Rosamund Pike is dropped into the movie as a Greek queen reminiscent of Aphrodite, though doesn't seem to serve much a purpose but possibly wrangle in some more demographics. Score: 5
TALKING: In a film so heavily steered by its imagery (in both terms of story and general quality), the dialogue is mostly superfluous. Conversations of the dramatic type happen between characters in brief succinct sentences, in order for the story can move on to its next massive set piece. Even the monsters in this movie are keyed into the glaring unimportance of dialogue - the Cyclopses and Cronus all speak gobbledygook to themselves while terrorizing human beings. Score: 5
SIGHTS: Working with super-sized locations and monsters, the special effects rise to the challenge. An ever-shifting labyrinth comes to life with massive scope and detail - the same can be said for the various monsters (some which are nameless) that dip in and out of the Titans story. Though the action itself is unspectacular, we can at least be thankful that director Liebesman chooses longer takes over cut-up moments, allowing the visuals to have some fluidity. It's certainly a nice change from last week's slice n' dice editing in The Hunger Games. Score: 8
SOUNDS: The score tries to sneak in some synthesized instruments (especially percussion) to music that aims for general "sword and sandal" epicness. The music doesn't much to the intensity of the images, especially when compared to the sound design, which brings huge battles and swirling mega-labyrinths to audible life. Score: 5
BEST SCENE: Worthington's take-down of the flying pyro-demon thing was fairly impressive. Unfortunately, this happens in the beginning of the movie. The rest of the script's mind for clever action disappears from there.
ENDING: Unless there is some way to turn some gods back into humans from kitty litter, it doesn't seem like at least one character will be making it into the second sequel, Rash of the Titans.
QUESTIONS: What kind of conversations did Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes have with each other while sitting off-set in their uber-beards and long hair? What memories of better movies did they collectively recall and weep for?
REWATCHABILITY: The story is so simple that a second viewing wouldn't hold up at all. Even looking at the pretty colors would prove completely boring before a second viewing even reached the thirty minute mark. Wrath of the Titans is basically like Avatar in that regard.
As a battle between god-like writers and mortal animators, Wrath of the Titans becomes a hugely simple spectacle, barely boosted by its star power (Fiennes and Neeson are denigrated to near Worthington-like insignificance), and hardly driven by spectacular action. Though the locations (Tarsus, the labyrinth) might make for eye-opening sights, even the simple objective of providing action is underwhelmed by sequences without a clever punch. One altercation (between Perseus and his brother Ares), even rips from the typical "Wrestlemania" arc, with taunting and body slamming on display.
When curmudgeons whine about blockbusters being all about special effects and explosions over story, they are 100 percent talking about Wrath of the Titans. This movie is a prime example of the imbalance between storytelling and moviemaking. One can only imagine the large dartboard that was used by the screenwriters when picking plot devices, or the martinis they sipped in Cabo while brainstorming a title to this sequel. Compare that to the sweaty dungeon, running with the blood of an army of famished animators, where the idea of "Perseus flies on Pegasus to Cronus, a fire and brimstone mega-monster that stands a half-mile tall and is constantly exploding with smoke and lava and stuff" becomes a heavily labored reality.
A possible omen of what is to come in our next Slurpee/Icee summer movie season, Wrath of the Titans is like a snow cone - it's light, it's got bright colors, but hardly offers anything your taste buds will remember.
FINAL SCORE: 5/10