Reviews for the Easily Distracted:
Wrath of the Titans
Title: Wrath of the Titans
What Unanswered Questions From Clash of the Titans Were Addressed This Time Around? Whether Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes will turn down any script. That would be "no."
Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: One and a half Cyclopes out of five.
Brief Plot Synopsis: Half-immortal comes out of retirement to save the world one. Last. Time.
Tagline: "Feel The Wrath."
Better Tagline: "See The Unwanted Sequel To That Unnecessary Remake Of That Unremarkable Movie."
Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: It's been ten long years since Perseus (Sam Worthington) slew the Kraken and saved the known world from destruction. Now a simple fisherman, he and his ten-year-old son Helius live an idyllic life, until dad Zeus (Neeson) shows up to tell him the gods' powers are diminishing due to lack of worshippers (funny how sending monsters to eat your devotees tends to put them off their faith) and the underworld prison of Tartarus -- home to Kronos, Zeus's father and leader of the Titans, among others -- is in danger of failing. While humanity prepares to be "scattered across the universe" should Kronos escape, Perseus must join with Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) and cousin (and son of Poseidon) Agenor (Toby Kebbell) to infiltrate Tartarus and defeat Hades (Fiennes) and Ares (Edgar Ramirez), who have joined forces to free Kronos.
"Critical" Analysis: I sincerely hope you don't remember any of that Edith Hamilton stuff you read when you were a kid, otherwise Wrath of the Titans is going to make your brains leak out of your head holes. I mean, Clash played pretty fast and loose with the old myths, but Wrath is basically the Scarlett to Clash's Gone with the Wind. Was Io brought back to life just to conceive and give birth to Helius? What the hell is the minotaur doing in Tartarus (not that they refer to him by name)? Didn't we used to take Ralph Fiennes seriously as an actor?
It's hard to get too up in arms about a movie that's such a blatant attempt at cashing in on its predecessor's box office take. What's startling to me is the report that Wrath's budget was in the $150 million range. Sometimes you can say, "Well, it's all up there on the screen." Only in this case, that's not the case. Some of the CGi creations are...interesting, but how much money does it really cost to chain a few dozen Koreans to their terminals and make them crank out giant lava monsters? I should ask somebody over at The Simpsons about that.
Wrath's other failings might be forgivable if, like Clash, it took itself a little less seriously. But there's none of the camp that made the first movie...well, not good by any stretch, but at least tolerable. Clearly the actors viewed the proceedings as much of a slog as the audience will.
Or if there was more action. Director Jonathan Liebesman isn't dazzling the audience with brilliance, but he isn't baffling us with wall-to-wall battle-related bullshit either. And what fights there are, until the climax, are against pretty pedestrian foes. A chimera? Two cyclops (cyclopses)? A minotaur (I assume, it was a bull-headed guy in a labyrinth)? Yawn. Even worse, where's the danger? I guess Perseus can die, but you don't really get that feeling when he's repeatedly getting his skull slammed through solid rock and shaking it off. I suppose it's something to be proud of when your movie runs barely 99 minutes yet feels much, much longer.
Part of it is having to endure Worthington for that stretch of time. "Perseus" must be Greek for "paint drying," because that's what it's like watching him. Worthington slogs through each mini-labor with an expression that's part confusion, part thick-headed resolve. Want to see something funny? Do a comparison/contrast of acting "styles" in his scenes with Neeson (no Olivier himself). There's a reason Worthington and Fiennes (for all his past J-Lo-related indiscretions, the guy's still a hell of an actor) don't share a lot of screen time.
And maybe it was just the IMAX screening I caught, but the 3D was plagued by constant image ghosting and the usual issues with excessive darkness. Maybe the sensory assault was supposed to erase our short-term memory.
See It/Rent It/Slip It: At the risk of causing Rosamund Pike to continue ignoring my friend requests, skip it.
Wrath of the Titans is in theaters today. It's also the 30th anniversary of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Go check that out instead.
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