Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"Wrath of the Titans"

Directed by Jonathan Liebesman, written by Dan Mazeau and David Johnson, starring Sam Worthington, Ralph Fiennes, and Liam Neeson - Rated PG-13

I was lukewarm on the Clash of the Titans remake.  It wasn’t that the original film was sacred and not to be messed with (quite the opposite, in my opinion); it was just that the film was a bit too serious and a little too boring.  I felt a little duped by the action-packed preview and Liam Neeson’s proclamation: “Release the Kraken!”  The funny thing is, though, that I didn’t feel cheated by the film until a few days after I had written my review.  Well, here we are two years later with another Titans film that featured another action packed preview.  Thankfully though, a few days after my viewing of the sequel, Wrath of the Titans, I still feel like I got my money’s worth, though “Wrath” is certainly not a perfect film.
Wrath picks up years after the first film and half-god Perseus (Sam Worthington) is now a widower with a young son to look after.  He has no interest in getting involved with the gods, even though his father, Zeus (Liam Neeson), begs him for help.  It turns out that Cronus, father of the gods Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon, is determined to release himself and destroy both gods and humans.  For some reason, Perseus is the only one who can stop him. 
I write, “For some reason” because of an issue I had with the first film.  I know that Perseus is a half-god but he just doesn’t seem that powerful.  In fact, the gods don’t seem all that powerful either.  They are all capable of holding special weapons, but it seems like that is their only power.  Sure, their power is referenced constantly, but we never get to truly see it.  I don’t want to be told how powerful Liam Neeson is, I want to see it in a cool and interesting way.  And that just doesn’t happen in this film.
All of the creatures and bad guys look mighty powerful, though, so that’s redeeming.  There are some decent action scenes in Wrath.  I watched it in IMAX 3D so they may have been more impressive because of the setting, but I did find myself entertained when the giant monsters were wreaking havoc on a giant screen in decent 3D.  If these movies get anything right, it’s loud and crazy action.  There just doesn’t seem to be enough of it.
Clash had way too much downtime as Perseus found out who he was.  Wrath is better but there are still too many traveling scenes.  It would be much better if the filmmakers just decided to embrace the craziness and focus on action.  It’s not like the story is compelling.  The characters are all bland and barely even one note.  You don’t get emotionally involved with any of these characters, so why do you want them to talk or take a boat ride together?  Throw some monsters at them and just cut to them at the next destination.  Clash was absolutely awful as far as this is concerned.  Wrath is more action-oriented, but not enough. 
The character development and plot are not important at all, but who cares?  Is anyone honestly watching this movie for either of those elements?  It might seem unfair to judge this movie less harshly than a “serious” film, but why shouldn’t I judge this for what it sets out to do?  And “Wrath of the Titans” sets out to make things louder and crazier and it does that for the most part.
The actors do help out, though, even if their characters aren’t all that deep.  Worthington is acceptable as an action star, but I still find him completely bland and forgettable in almost all of his roles.  Liam Neeson is fine as Zeus.  It just seems like a perfect fit for him and, thankfully, the gods get a lot more screen time this go around.  Neeson got to yell out commands aplenty in Clash, but Ralph Fiennes only got to skulk around a bit as Hades.  And Danny Huston didn’t even get a line of dialogue as Poseidon in the first film.  But no worries this time.  Poseidon gets a few scenes and Neeson and Fiennes get to share plenty of scenes.  It’s so strange to see the two leads of Schindler’s List reunite in a film like this, but I kind of love it.  In fact, I take back the emotion comment.  Neeson and Fiennes actually bring some heart into the film.
So if you liked Clash, then you should love Wrath.   That’s kind of obvious.  But even if you disliked the first film, you should give Wrath of the Titans a chance.  It’s louder, there’s more action, and the gods get more to do.  That last part should be good enough for most people.  As for me, if they have to make a third film, let’s lose Perseus and just make it a buddy action movie: Zeus and Hades vs. the Titans.  Who wouldn’t want to watch that?
 Random Thoughts (SPOILERS)
No offense to Edgar Ramiriez, but Ares kind of sucked.  I expected the god of war to be more of a bad ass.
Andromeda, who cares?  Was she in the first one?  I honestly cannot remember.  Why did she and Perseus hook up at the end, anyway?  Just because they were there and why not?  Really felt like a forced presence just to get a lady in the mix.
Stupid comic relief guy?  No.
The cyclopes were a bit goofy.  Not really a fault of the movie, they just aren't meant for cinema.
Nighy as Haphaestus was a bit strange.  He was goofy, but not goofy enough.
Wish the armies had something to do…aside from just stand there and get their asses kicked.  I would've preferred a full on clash between soldiers and creatures, but oh well.
I guess it's easy to pick this film to pieces, but why bother really?  There's fun to be had here, and you can just scoff at it and destroy it if you want, as well.  Something for everyone!

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