‘Wrath of the Titans’ grim and dirty when it doesn’t need to be

Wrath of the Titans

Directed by Jonathan Liebesman

Written by Dan Mazeau and David Leslie Johnson

USA, 2012

As befits a sequel to a remake of a film that had absolutely no plot to speak of, Wrath of the Titans is all spectacle, a string of set pieces held together with the loosest connective tissue possible. That is not necessarily a bad thing, as everyone gets in the mood for mindless spectacle once in a while. The reason this film should be avoided when one is in that mood is because it firmly refuses to be anything but grim and businesslike in the delivery of its spectacle.

The movie opens with the heavens at war, as Hades (Ralph Fiennes) turns on Zeus (Liam Neeson) and plots to free the world-devouring titan Kronos from imprisonment. It’s up to Zeus’ half-human son Perseus (Sam Worthington) to save the world, which he does with all of the efficiency of a video game plot – “go save A, but first you need to get B, and for that you’ll need to find C and ask for his help…”

Wrath of the Titans puts considerable effort into looking good. The computer-generated monsters have a weight and heft that was lacking from Clash of the Titans, and the 3D conversion which was famously bungled in the previous film is much improved. The downside of making the monsters earthy-looking is that the entire movie is bathed in a color palette of brown and grey, with everyone and everything covered in a layer of dust and soot. Only the blond hair and perfect skin of Rosamund Pike (as Queen Andromeda) brighten up any scenes.

Worse, so much time is spent establishing the visual spectacle that it leaves Worthington and company painfully lacking in actual action. The design of the Labyrinth sequence is truly mind-blowing with impressive effects, but it all boils down to fifteen seconds of thudding body blows between Worthington and a creature barely recognizable as the Minotaur. The two-bodied Chimaera monsters receive better fight sequences than the star of the movie, whose most impressive maneuver is a simple chokehold.

Director Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles) at least deserves credit for understanding that the plot of Clash of the Titans is terrible, sending Perseus through all sorts of miserable trials for no reason beyond the gods’ amusement. This film adds familial drama between Zeus and Hades, which is an improvement through the sheer gravity lent by Neeson and Fiennes. When Zeus signals his intention to join a battle by saying, “let’s have some fun,” Neeson delivers the only legitimate joy in the entire picture, and one wonders why the rest of the cast and crew did not receive the same memo.

Mark Young

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