I was not exactly a fan of the 2010 Clash of the Titans, but I really wanted to be. Admittedly, part of my dislike was due to the hastily converted 3D, which felt like it was shaking my brain and trying to punish me for having the audacity of enjoying an additional dimension in film. I tried not to hold that against the filmmakers though. It was entirely a studio decision that was a kneejerk reaction to the gold filled bags that the makers of Avatar were busy carrying around—or more likely the bags that they hired people to carry around for them.
The film was not made for 3D. The human eye needs two seconds to process a 3D image. Clash of the Titans featured numerous quick cuts and plenty of shaky cam, which is not ideal for 3D. And by not ideal, I mean it can melt your brain. It’s a lesson that its successor learned well.
I later watched the 2D version and it was a much better experience, but it wasn’t without its flaws. Lots of them. And yet despite my hesitation, I was excited to see the new Wrath of the Titans. There is just something fertile about soil made from Greek mythology. The associated stories and images they conjure make the period ideal for a big budget, effects laden extravaganza and the makers of Wrath of the Titans took full advantage of that. In the process they may have gone a bit too far in one direction, but there is still a lot to like.
I am also glad to say that my brain remained in its proper position, and the 3D was well used. It was a bit gimmicky, but it fit with what the movie was trying to be. Wrath of the Titans isn’t a smart movie, but it is a fun one. Big, ‘splodey, action-y fun.
If You Buy Popcorn, You May Miss the Plot
The entire plot of Wrath of the Titans is set up within the first few minutes, and it never looks back or tries to add much after that. It isn’t that it is a bad story, it is just very, very simple. But with a movie like this, there really isn’t anything wrong with that, at least in theory.
The story begins several years after the events of Clash of the Titans. Perseus (Sam Worthington) has retired from the action and opted for a life as a fisherman. His wife, Io (and love interest from the previous movie played by Gemma Arterton), has passed on, but not before having a son.
Soon Zeus (Liam Neeson) appears before Perseus to tell him that the walls of Tartarus that imprison the dreaded Titan Chronos, are breaking down, which spells doom–DOOM–for the poor, soon to be squished humans.
Zeus is soon captured by Ares (Édgar Ramírez) and Hades (Ralph Fiennes), who plan to squeeze the juice out of him in order to re-vitalize Chronos, who will then murder the world.
Perseus realizes he can no longer opt out, so he sets out to rescue his dad and save the world with the help of his old friend Andromeda, who is now queen–and also now blonde (played by Rosamund Pike who replaces Alexa Davalos)–and the comic relief side kick, Agenor (Toby Kebball), along with several expendables.
All of this is established within the first 20 or 30 minutes of the film and from then on the movie is essentially one long action sequence with a few bits of drama salted in, mostly credit to Fiennes and Neeson who have as much dialog in one small cut as Worthington and Pike have in an hour of the film.
The plot does what it needs to, and offers just enough scaffolding to support the multiple ‘splosions, fights, and action scenes that dominate the film. The consequence is that it is almost totally devoid of emotion, and the movie lacks heart of any kind. But it is pretty and somewhat exciting.
Greek History: X-Treme
From the moment the action begins, the character development is pretty much thrown out of the window in favor of general archetypes you will understand thanks to years of preparation from other movies. You will see such classics as: the comedic rogue on a redemption arc, a scared handmaid with a healthy dose of self-destructive stupidity that serves to further the tension, and a love story minus the story and the love. Don’t go into this film looking for a character driven story.
Wrath of the Titans isn’t that type of movie, and to its credit, it doesn’t ever try to be. It wants to be an action film and nothing more, and it works in that. So many movies try to suddenly tack into the emotional winds for no reason other than they feel like they should, and the result is usually a partially good movie cut with a partially bad one. Wrath of the Titans doesn’t bother with that, and instead offers a visually stunning movie. It feels a bit hollow at times, and it is hard to feel much attachment to the characters, but the movie does enough to tie the various action scenes together.
The cast tries their best, bless their little hearts. Worthington attempts to do what he can with Perseus’ generally laughable and infrequent bouts of dialog, but the characters all tend to take a back seat to the effects and Worthington is affected more than any of the others. Most of his time is spent reacting to things that draw the eye far more than he does. Pike begins well enough, but after a quick introduction, she is relegated to the role of a sidekick—and not even the good sidekick. She spends the rest of the movie with a slightly befuddled look on her face, and is badly underused throughout the entire film before eventually being thrown into a situation which makes you wonder how much of the film ended up on the cutting room floor. It makes very little sense other than it is just kind of expected.
The remaining cast is better served by the plot. Fiennes and Neeson have a surprisingly deep relationship, which is credit almost entirely to the skill of the actors. Both Ramírez as Ares and Kebbell as Agenor make the most out of their characters, and are somewhat breakouts. Ramírez tries to do as much as he can with Ares, and does a good job of creating a complex character. That is more down to the charisma of the actor than the role of Ares though. The same is true of Kebbell who has a slightly better character arc, but is little more than a minor supporting character.
Pomp and Circumstance
The world of Ancient Greece in Wrath is surprisingly colorless, despite some incredible art design. The world created is imaginative and detailed, but the colors are drab and gray. This may be to give the film a more neutral background for the effects, which stand out. If so, it worked. The effects are incredible and visually this in an incredible movie.
From an entirely technical standpoint, Director Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning) turns in an exceptional film. The effects are Oscar-worthy, and they meld seamlessly into the action. There is a lot of CGI in this film, but it is actually difficult to tell where it begins and traditional effects begin. The 3D is also used exceedingly well for this type of movie. It can be a bit dizzying at times as you speed down crevices and through landscapes, and things fly out at you often, but it is in keeping with the type of spectacle movie Wrath is.
This biggest problem with Wrath of the Titans is that it lacks heart, but it does exactly what it sets out to do and not a bit more. It is like a big, happy dog. It is fun to enjoy, but you won’t get much intellectual stimulus from it.
Wrath of the Titans is pure spectacle. If you go into it expecting something epic and memorable, you will be disappointed. But if you go in looking for a big, dumb, flashy popcorn movie where things blow up real pretty, you will get what you came for.
What do you think of our Wrath of the Titans review? Let us know in the comments below.