2010’s Clash Of The Titans was the perfect example of a remake gone wrong. It was a loud, bombastic affair with little heart and less intelligence. But it grossed half a billion dollars (internationally), which is like sequel catnip to movie producers. So a handful of the cast members were rounded up, a new director (Jonathan Liebesman, who helmed the haphazard Battle: Los Angeles) was tapped and voila! Wrath Of The Titans was born.
Unlike its predecessor, Wrath features actual titans, for all the good that does it. The story of the sequel isn’t particularly complex — Zeus (Liam Neeson) seeks help from his rebellious half-god son Perseus (Sam Worthington) in order to defeat a cabal of gods who seek to release the dreaded titans from the underworld, who would in turn destroy the universe as we know it, kill the gods and wipe out mankind. Perseus is as reluctant as ever to be the hero, yet eventually accepts his fate, rounds up a small crew of fellow adventurers — most notably Agenor (Toby Kebbell), the half-god son of Poseiden, and Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike, taking over the role from Alexa Davalos) — and sets out on a sequence of quests to find various items that can be forged together to form a super weapon that can then be used to slay Cronos, the imprisoned king of the titans.
If it sounds like a cheaply made video game drunkenly mated with an Asylum Films release, well, you’re not far off. Wrath Of The Titans is remarkable in that it not only makes the same mistakes made in the original, but also finds all-new egregious cinematic errors to smother itself in. The story is a paint-by-numbers tale of men, gods and monsters set against the vaguest intimation of Greek mythology, so predictable and derivative that a four-year old could have invented a similar tale. It’s a weak video game plot, a series of fetch quests committed to celluloid with a cast of utterly boring characters listlessly going through the motions, trying to look like they give a shit about finding the mythical island of whatever-the-hell so that they can speak to the mighty whoever-the-fuck so that he can tell them where to find the magical I-just-don’t-give-a-damn.
Forget about character development, because Liebesman and his pack of insipid writers are determined to let you care not one iota about the characters. It’s not helped by some utterly bland performances, and almost every actor is as guilty as the next. Neeson tries, I suppose, to inject some tragic gravitas into his fading Zeus, a god who’s losing his power as his worshipers turn away from him, but his corny Proclamations Of Great Importance fall rather flat. Rosamund Pike’s Andromeda is as porcelain-pretty and pathologically tepid as possible, a blank-faced, underwritten character who shows nary an ounce of charisma, has not a moment of chemistry with Worthington, and yet somehow gets shoehorned into being a love interest. And poor Sam Worthington continues to dare entire forests to try to be more wooden than him, a bet that is likely making him millions.
There are a few bright spots — Kebbell’s Agenor injects a sprinkling of desperately needed levity into the whole dreary affair, and Ralph Fiennes’ twisted, embittered Hades has just the right amount of grievous tragedy to his character to allow you to actually understand his motivations (he sets things in motion by betraying Zeus). The highlight is the all-too-brief appearance of Bill Nighy as the zany, schizoid god Hephaestus, full of twitchy spasms and prone to heated arguments with himself and inanimate objects. Edgar Ramirez is wasted as Ares, a God of War who’s less mighty superpowered battle deity and more superpowered petulant child.
The whole production is really just a setup to show off some bitchin’ special effects, and yet they’re shown against such a dull palette that one barely even feels any sense of awe. The setpieces are massive in size and scope, particularly the gigantic Cronos and the sprawling and labyrinthine underworld prison of Tartarus, and yet the film’s devotion to dull, two-toned color schemes makes the whole thing just seem drab — think Shadow of Colossus without any heart or soul. While a harrowing chase and battle with two gigantic Cyclopses is certainly a breathless, exciting setpiece, moments of its ilk are few and far between. I will give it credit for having some of the better 3D effects that I’ve seen in a while, effects that would have been more impressive if the action on-screen was remotely entertaining.
Wrath Of The Titans is astonishing in that it’s an adventure film without any sense of adventure. It’s a dreary, joyless picture, 99 minutes that felt like 99 hours of uncomfortably somber dialogue that felt as if written by someone who’s read too many Forgotten Realms novels, but skipped all of the good ones. The characters indolently plod from one destination to the next. Each scene seems like a ripoff of it’s predecessor, replete with loud, blaring battles and glum, miserable, clichéd dialogue. It’s actually far less enjoyable than Clash Of The Titans, an impressive feat considering how spectacularly unimpressive Clash was. Wrath Of The Titans is a boring stumble, an expensive bauble that barely glimmers, an adventure that few people wanted and likely no one will care about.