Saying that Wrath of a Titans bests its 2010 predecessor Clash of the Titans is like saying…
Oh, the heck with it. Wrath of the Titans shows marked improvement in terms of acting and the use of 3-D, but it’s too lazy to even warrant an analogy of any kind. The movie doesn’t seem to care that it’s even a movie. It’s just a bunch of crap happening for little to no reason, and it’s brought to you by director Jonathan Liebsman (Battle: Los Angeles, Darkness Falls), who after killing this potentially fun sword and sandals franchise off is about to put his hack hands all over that Michael Bay produced Ninja Turtles reboot everyone’s been bitching about. I’ll just let that sink in while you proceed on with the rest of the review.
Called upon by his father Zeus (Liam Neeson), the heroic demigod Perseus (Sam Worthington) gets called away from raising his son in peace when Ares (Edgar Ramirez) teams with Hades (Ralph Fiennes) to resurrect their father Kronos – the original God that Zeus took over from – in order to destroy the world, or something like that. It’s honestly never made clear, but everything you need to know is delivered by Neeson in one thirty second long speech approximately three minutes into the film. The three person writing staff’s devotion to really not giving a shit is quite admirable, in hindsight.
At least, Neeson and Fiennes are back because Sam Worthington still isn’t anywhere near the leading man every suit in Hollywood seemingly wants to make him. But while it’s fun to watch Neeson and Fiennes face off against one another in their few scenes together, it’s painfully clear that Neeson wasn’t even there for half the shoot since he’s chained up with his back to the camera most of the time. They’re usually good in bad movies only because they are fun to watch doing pretty much anything, but Liebsman gives them absolutely no material to work with. Ditto the poor Rosamund Pike as a warrior general, Toby Kebbell as the son of Poseidon, and Bill Nighy who shows up only to be a plot convenience and an unfunny comedic relief as a fallen God and weapons maker.
There are fleeting moments where Liebsman understands how cheesy and one note his film is, but aside from the craziest instance of a snake biting the audience in 3D since Comin’ At Ya, every single thing he attempts after the film’s set-up stinks. He seems in such a hurry to get to the finale that none of the other action sequences comes across as anything more than incomprehensibly edited filler with zero stakes and absolutely no logical or logistical sense.
This is the kind of movie where characters are just forgotten about for stretches because the writers have no idea what to do with them; the kind of film where people somehow miraculously teleport from point A to point B because, again, the writers and the director have no logical way to account for them being anywhere else; the kind of film where when the group of heroes is separated they shout each other’s name incessantly like it will make a lick of difference. Every cliché from lazy action epics that could possibly get crammed into a film show up here, and things only get more incompetent as the film reaches its deathly long and uninteresting conclusion that makes a 100 minute film feel like an eternity.
The visual effects are more accomplished and the 3-D is markedly improved despite an obviously lower budget than the first film. In the hands of a better director, this might have elevated Wrath of the Titans, but Liebsman seems to be crafting a sequel to his headache inducing nightmare Battle: Los Angeles instead of a movie with two headed dragons and minotaurs. The blend of handheld camerawork, 3-D, and some of the most spastic editing since Transformers 2 induced the worst headache I probably ever got from watching a film while I wasn’t already previously sick. Such a shame, too, since the creature design and make-up work here is top notch.
While watching Wrath of the Titans, I couldn’t shake the fact that I would rather be watching a movie where Neeson and Fiennes were buddies talking about all the strange movies they’ve done in their careers. There’s a sequence where they turn to each other and smile when they talk about what they did when they were younger. I wonder if they even knew the camera was on. It’s a rare moment of grace in an otherwise graceless movie. I also liked the sequence because it was one of maybe ten minutes in the film where I could clearly see and understand just what was happening and why it was happening.