Film review: 'Wrath of the Titans' storyline is one Greek tragedy

April 02, 2012|By BOB GARVER | Special to The Herald-Mail
  • In this film image released by Warner Bros., Liam Neeson portrays Zeus in a scene from "Wrath of the Titans."
(AP Photo/Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures)

"Wrath of the Titans" is an excellent reason why audiences shouldn't throw money at bad movies. I'm not even talking about this film, which is doing deservedly poorly against the second week of "The Hunger Games."

I'm talking about "Clash of the Titans," which spent two weeks at No. 1 back in 2010, ultimately making more than $160 million domestically. In its first weekend alone it made upwards of $60 million, owing in no small part to that weekend being Easter and the film getting to take advantage of holiday crowds. The film was lousy and forgettable, but it made money. It thereby justified this sequel, which is lousy and forgettable and won't make money.

The film adds more branches to the twisted family tree of the first film. We already know the demigod Perseus (Sam Worthington), now committed to living the life of a mortal. His father, Zeus (Liam Neeson), is the most powerful of the gods, his uncle, Hades (Ralph Fiennes), is an evil god. This film introduces Perseus' mortal son, Helius (John Bell), his war-god brother Ares (Edgar Ramirez) who you can tell is a bad guy the second you lay eyes on him, and his grandfather Kronos (CGI smoke), a really evil god who was imprisoned when the good gods took over. Hades and Ares scheme to release Kronos and let him do all sorts of no good to the world.

Tasked with saving the world if only for his son, Perseus goes on a quest to rescue Zeus, who has been imprisoned by Ares and Hades.

A dying Poseidon (Danny Huston) directs him to his demigod son Agenor (Toby Kebbell), who serves as the annoying sidekick for the rest of the movie. He meets up with Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike, replacing Gemma Arterton from the original) and together they go to see Hephaestus (Bill Nighy), a retired weapons maker who can get them into the labyrinth where Zeus is being held.

The labyrinth is a wasted opportunity. I like the idea to characters having to navigate through a maze and solving puzzles and overcoming obstacles. We get a few sliding walls that the characters manage to squeeze by with ease. Perseus also does battle with a Minotaur, a sequence that it so quick and inconsequential that the creature is never even identified as a Minotaur. But come on, what other creature is going to be hanging out in a labyrinth?

The rest of the movie is spent trying to stop Ares and Kronos. I'm trying to think of anything else of interest that happens. Hades' loyalties waver, Ares makes the stupid villain mistake of getting into a fair fight with Perseus, and Perseus and Andromeda fall in love, though you probably don't need me to tell you that.

One thing I did like is the soldiers that Kronos sends out. They're basically conjoined twins with six limbs. I wouldn't want to end up on the wrong side of one of those. I'll take my chances with Grandpa the Smoke Monster.

It's sad that the anonymous henchmen are the only positive thing I can say about "Wrath of the Titans." Then again a lot about the movie is sad; the story, the special effects (you can tell exactly which patches of screen are about to be filled with CGI), its inevitable box office performance, and the fact that it exists. Though I wasn't happy with "The Hunger Games" last week, I am grateful that it is stomping the "Titans" franchise into what I hope is submission. If we can somehow get it to squash the entire "Transformers" universe we'll be in good shape.

One and a Half Stars out of Five

"Wrath of the Titans" is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of fantasy violence and action. Its running time is 99 minutes.

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