Wrath of the Titans (2012)
Directed by: Jonathan Liebesman
Written by: Beverley Cross, Dan Mazeau, David Johnson, Greg Berlanti
Starring: Bill Nighy, Danny Huston, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Rosamund Pike, Sam Worthington
Wrath of the Titans (2012)
(12A) Running time: 99 minutes
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Writer: Dan Mazeau, David Johnson, Greg Berlanti
Starring: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Rosamund Pike, Edgar Ramirez
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
After the critical mauling and generally box office disaster that was last year’s remake of Clash of the Titans, all eyes were on Battle L.A director Jonathan Liebesman to put things right. In any case, this is the second part of a proposed trilogy, and Wrath of the Titans simply has to do well to warrant a third film. So, the big question is: has Liebesman done his homework on what made the first film such a failure, and has he ironed out the problems and made a better film? The quick answer is yes, Wrath of the Titans is a much better film than its predecessor, however it is not without its faults and it would seem that it is Liebesman’s eye for a big spectacle which truly saved this. Amongst the complaints of the previous film were the script (much the same here, if not worse), the 3D (again, this film was converted, although to much better effect) and the lack of any actual Titans (plenty here!). So, Liebesman has attempted to improve, and what we are presented with in Wrath is a big budget spectacle that is happy to leave the story and script out, and allow fans the chance to really enjoy some big, epic battles, some impressive 3D and special effects that could well be some of the best you are likely to see all year!
The story here is just an excuse for the action, with Perseus (Worthington), now ten years on from the events in Clash, living his days as a half man half God by caring for his Son and living a simple, peasant life. This is the man who destroyed the Kraken, a man who will have soldiers literally worshipping him (proven in a hilariously cheesy scene) and yet he wants nothing to do with his reputation or his powers. He is too stubborn, and just wants a normal life. Problem is though; his Father is the mighty Zeus (Neeson) and the God stops by every now and then for a quick chin wag before heading off in a howl of wind and dust. No one worships the God’s anymore, they are growing weak, and so Zeus, Poseidon (Danny Huston) and Ares (Edgar Ramirez) head to the Underworld where Zeus’ brother Hades (Fiennes) rules. Zeus plans to make a deal with his brother, but Hades, for now, has other plans. Killing Poseidon, it turns out Ares the God of War is working with Hades, and the pair capture Zeus so that their big horrible Dad Kronos can drain his power, and free himself from his prison of Tartarus, along with the other Titans. Perseus, learning of his Father’s capture, bearing in mind this is a Father he wanted nothing to do with, decides to go in search of Poseidon’s son Agenor (Toby Kebbell) and hopefully save Greece once again.
The plot feels very forced at times, with those annoying conversations where the characters spell out what is happening in awkward chats that feel incredibly staged. However, even with the plot feeling so dumb, it does lead into some astonishing action. The opening attack by the Chimera is superb as the two headed, snake tailed dog-like beast attacks Perseus’ village. The effects are absolutely perfect, however the problem with this bit of action is that suddenly we feel like a kid again, and serious, perfect films are forgotten for a brief moment. All we want is action, which makes the following story build up painful and irritating. It is not long before Perseus heads to Andromeda’s (Pike) army to find Agenor so they can set off on their quest, and while Pike does plenty on the eye, she aint no Gemma Arterton. Pike plays her part well, with what she is given, but her character feels almost nonexistent, as does the rest of the party Perseus picks up. This whole film is centred on Perseus (a very effective and fun Sam Worthington), Agenor (a desperately trying to be funny Toby Kebbell) and the serious than a maths teacher Gods, who, like a maths teacher, rarely smile! Oh, and the big effects. When the God’s are on screen Neeson does a powerful job as Zeus, although his script is dreadful, Fiennes continues his creepiness which he seems to be bringing to every role, and surprisingly it is Edgar Ramirez who is the highlight as Ares. With a terrible chip on his shoulder against his brother Perseus, he has a real look on his face of, “yes I want revenge, but I am not sure I am doing the right thing”. He is a damaged God, and an evil bastard too!
A meeting with the Cyclops provide some jaw dropping, but at times horrifically sloppy CGI, followed by a short appearance by Bill Nighy in a role he appears to be absolutely loving. Nighy provides the comedy highlight of the film, and thankfully we do get some good laughs through him, and elsewhere, proving Wrath is not playing things too seriously. If it was trying to be serious, then it would have been disastrous. You simply have to go along with it, not necessarily agree, but just enjoy the show, and what a show it is. Once Liebesman let’s rip with the special effects, you cannot help but be amazed. We also get plenty of monsters, from the Chimera to the Cyclops (three of the ugly buggers!), to an incredibly creepy but sadly wasted Minotaur to the biggest, most ferocious Titan of them all, Kronos. The whole film, like Clash, builds to its climatic battle scene, and while in Clash it was based around the enormous and quite brilliant Kraken standing up, here we get the enormous and quite brilliant Kronos climbing out of a volcano! I have been corrected by my wife after my complaints at yet another climax showing a big behemoth moving like a 100 year old man on his death bed. She told me, and I have to believe her, that the Titans were so strong, so powerful that each and every move was earth shattering, and so they moved very slowly due to the immense force behind them. So, it would appear that Liebesman got that right!
The 3D is, strangely, a massive and effective improvement. In fact, it is safe to say the 3D is a lot of fun. Seeing rocks fly at the screen, or a nauseating scene where the camera drops all the way down into the Titans prison of Tartarus, or even better, seeing Tartarus as its walls and floors move to confuse Perseus, this is brilliant stuff. So, we have awesome special effects, some very good use of 3D, Hell, we even see God’s behaving like children of Christmas day as they head out to battle the enormous Kronos. And speaking of Kronos, you won’t see a bigger monster all year, and honestly, the special effects to bring the miserable, angry sod to life are breathtaking.
Wrath of the Titans does improve on Clash, a lot, so long as you’re not looking for anything too deep or too intelligent. This is popcorn cinema at its very best, and I was thrilled watching many scenes here. Wrath of the Titans is a huge amount of silly fun, perfect for the biggest, loudest cinema screen you can find, just leave your brain at home and you’ll be fine.