Review: Wrath of the Titans

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Wrath of the Titans

Two years after the 3D reboot Clash of the Titans, another filmmaking team has taken liberty with the 1981 screenplay centered on the legend of Perseus in Wrath of the Titans. With The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning under his belt as well as the forthcoming reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, director Jonathan Liebesman has no fear of sequels or re-inventions. Clash of the Titans lead actors Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and Danny Huston reprise their respective roles from the 2010 movie as Perseus, Zeus, Hades and Poseidon.

Wrath of the Titans finds son of Zeus and demi-god Perseus living the life of a simple fisherman with his son Helius (John Bell), widowed after the death of his wife Io. Perseus' father pays a visit to ask for his help -- as faith in the gods diminish, most of the gods are gone, leaving Hades and Ares to seek their revenge on Zeus and free the giant Kronos. Hades resents Zeus for having banished him to Tartarus, and God of War Ares (Edgar Ramirez) is vengeful against his father and half-brother Perseus.

Not wanting to leave his son, Perseus refuses Zeus' pleas and shortly thereafter, Zeus is captured and imprisoned in the heart of Tartarus. By draining Zeus of his divine powers, Hades and Ares attempt to free the giant Kronos, leader of the imprisoned Titans and father of Zeus, Hades and Poseidon, and leader of the likewise imprisoned monsters known as the Titans. Poseidon is destroyed by Ares as well, but not before he tells Perseus how to rescue his father and defeat Kronos -- by enlisting the aid of his son Agenor (Toby Kebbell) and locating the Fallen One, Hapheastus (Bill Nighy). As architect of the underworld labyrinthic prison Tartarus and creator of the gods' weapons including Zeus' thunderbolt, Hades' pitchfork and Poseidon's trident, Hephaestus is vital to Perseus' quest to save his father and mankind from the Titans' wrath.

The theme of Wrath of the Titans focuses primarily on father-son relationships (Zeus and Perseus, Perseus and Helios) and sibling rivalries (Zeus and Hades, Perseus and half-brother Ares) as well as the black sheep Agenor. The contrast between Zeus' desire for his son to embrace his heritage and Perseus' denial of his own son's thirst for adventure is well portrayed, as are the scenes between Zeus and Hades as weary feuding brothers.

Surprisingly for an epic quest and action film, this film's narrative and characters are quite well developed -- much more than its predecessor. Even the supporting role of Queen Andromeda is a three-dimensional character in the figurative sense, and well portrayed by the lovely and talented Rosamund Pike (Die Another Day, Pride and Prejudice).

Although overall the cast of Wrath of the Titans were well-suited, once again Sam Worthington came across as wooden and bland. I found myself making the same reference to describe Clash of the Titans as a whole in my review -- "Meh." Neeson, Fiennes and Nighy were on the mark but the story suffers as a whole with Worthington as the focal point. The subtle humor was nicely understated, although at times was lost on the audience due to witty dialogue being overrun by the dramatic score.

A major improvement in this movie over its 2010 predecessor was the 3D filming technique, although the 3D was more an enhancement than a major perk. With 3D being completed in post-production for Clash of the Titans, a critical flaw was that the scenes were too dark at times. The blend of physical and digital effects in Wrath of the Titans does work well with a final scene between Queen Andromeda's army and Kronos, but most notably in the complex and fascinating Escher-like labryinth of Tartarus.

In this setting Perseus and Andromeda are subjected to psychological traps as well, which I would attribute to screenwriter David Johnson (Orphan) who was responsible for the most psychological thrilling episodes of The Walking Dead Season 2, "Chupacabra." Where Wrath of the Titans suffers slightly is in the fight choreography, especially with the practical effects, most evidenced by a closely shot fight scene between the Minotaur and Perseus. 

"Action porn" fans may not be stimulated by Wrath of the Titans as this film balances narrative with action, but overall the CGI effects and action sequences should satiate viewers with a less demanding appetite. I would recommend giving this movie a fighting chance for a viewing on the big screen.