With computer-generated monsters, action stars, talented Britons in ridiculous beards—Wrath of the Titans really ought to be more fun than it is. It could take ownership of its silliness, even revel in it. Alas, Wrath of the Titans does not such thing – it can’t even manage to wink.
When we last left our reluctant hero Perseus in Clash of the Titans, he had just taken on the evil Titans and saved both man and gods from annihilation. Now we find him living in a small fishing village, raising a young son and trying for a normal life. Humans have been getting along fine without divine intervention so they no longer bother worshiping to the gods. But since gods, like toddlers and actors, get their power from attention, they’re getting weaker and dying. Hades, ruler of the underworld and jailor of the Titans, is downright depressed by being ignored. He plots to release the king of the Titans, who will destroy the world but somehow make him feel better. (It’s mythology—what do you want?)
Zeus asks for Perseus’ help in stopping another apocalypse and Perseus agrees. He joins forces with the fetching Queen Andromeda and a smarmy demigod, Agenor. They fight their way past snarling beasts, cyclopses and minotaurs, to the service entrance of the hell. There it’s the final showdown with Hades, the vengeful god of war, Ares, and a very large, very angry volcano.
Being a sequel to a remake of a tribute to cheap sword-and-sandal movies, Wrath of the Titans is descended from a long line of cheesiness. The 1981 Clash of the Titans was based on the greasy, grainy Hercules movies of the 1950’s. Audiences were excited for a 2010 remake and eager to see what hundreds of millions of dollars and cutting-edge technology could do with the material.
Sadly, any whiff of cheesy fun from previous movies is missing here; instead, Wrath of the Titans reeks of obligation. Being released so soon after its predecessor, the film feels rushed. Characters’ motivations are vague, simplistic or just plain forgotten. Perseus (Sam Worthington) is committed but uninspiring with all his running around after monsters. Director Jonathan Liebesman has the money to rent serious actors for their gravitas—but they don’t have to like it, and they don’t seem to. As almighty Zeus, god of thunder, Neeson at least has a twinkle in his eye when uttering decidedly ungodly lines like “Let’s have some fun.”
The action is often quite impressive— with sequences where large (and extra-extra-large) creatures explode from the earth in smoldering sprays of smoke. But the effects often feel crowded and crammed—a computer-generated stew made from every ingredient in the pantry, some well past their expiration dates.
Audiences, we know, are ready and willing to pay for campy, over-the-top adventure. What’s disappointing is when the filmmakers take their money, but don’t share the fun.