Loud, Boring ‘Wrath of the Titans’ Deserves Godly Vengeance

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CHICAGO – 2010’s “Clash of the Titans” was a surprising box office smash, making almost $500 million worldwide. That kind of money demands a sequel, but what to call it? “Clash of the Titans 2” wouldn’t be exciting enough but it should sound similar. How about “Smash of the Titans”? “Flash of the Titans”? “Bash of the Titans”? They ultimately settled on “Wrath of the Titans,” although “Trash of the Titans” or “Crap of the Titans” would have been more accurate.

This joyless, lifeless sequel is so routine and so boring that my mind wandered to the title decision mentioned above purely as a way to keep myself entertained. This is filmmaking without personality, a movie that doesn’t just feel like watching someone else play a video game but like it was actually made by a computer program. The veterans of the piece – Bill Nighy, Liam Neeson, & Ralph Fiennes – find a way to chew their scenery in an effective enough manner that they capture some of the B-movie charm of which the entire piece needed a LOT more, and the gorgeous Rosamund Pike has screen presence (even if she’s given nothing to do with it), but Sam Worthington gives another boring lead turn and the script is as generic and thin as fan fiction.

Wrath of the Titans
Wrath of the Titans
Photo credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Half-God Perseus (Worthington) has turned his back on the Gods yet again and chosen to live a humble life with his son when his father Zeus (Neeson) comes to him and asks him to join the fight against Hades (Fiennes), who is trying to unleash the legendary Kronos on poor Earth. Our sullen hero refuses and Zeus and brother Poseidon (Danny Huston) are soon kidnapped by Hades and turncoat Ares (Edgar Ramirez). The God of the Sea is killed and Zeus is held captive as his power is slowly drained to fuel the release of Kronos. Before Poseidon dies, he finds a way to reach Perseus and tell him that he has to find his son, Agenor (Toby Kebbell), as only the two half-Gods can save the world. Before you know it, Perseus and Agenor are tracking down the creator (Bill Nighy) of Godly weapons that, when united, can stop Kronos from destroying the Earth. On the way to battle, they join forces with the lovely Andromeda (Rosamund Pike).

During the first major battle of “Wrath of the Titans” – a fight with a two-headed creature whose venom bursts into flame – I was actually with Liebesman’s film purely because of its technical accomplishments. I must admit that it’s impressive how much it looks like Worthington shares the same space with what is clearly a CGI creation (the same can’t be said of the more cartoonish Cyclops later in the film). As Perseus jumps on the creature’s back and stabs him in the neck, I thought that “Wrath” could actually find the core of fun, B-movie action missing from the first film. And then that feeling of hope disappeared. Only to be replaced by remarkable boredom.

Wrath of the Titans
Wrath of the Titans
Photo credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

“Wrath of the Titans” just gets less and less interesting as it slogs along to its inevitable conclusion. What’s so disappointing about the sequel is the complete lack of surprise in its structure. Near the very beginning of the film, Zeus explains what’s going to happen and what is needed from Perseus and, wouldn’t you know it, that’s pretty much exactly what happens. Rarely has a movie with mythical creatures been so predictable. The dialogue in “Wrath” is uninspired and never clever. We never care about what happens to Perseus, Agenor, or Andromeda beyond the fact that we’re told we’re supposed to, and Worthington, despite showing some more range with interesting career choices lately, gives one of his most by-the-numbers performances to date.

That’s the best way to describe “Wrath of the Titans” – by-the-numbers. There’s nothing here that feels driven by creative passion. It was all designed to replicate the box office success of the first film from the similar title to the similar plot (stop the release of the Kraken vs. stop the release of the Kronos) to the similar level of quality (yeah, I hated the first one too). The modern “Titans” movies were inspired by classic adventure films that were ALL personality – stories of daring heroes fighting mythical creatures. And yet that’s what’s missing here. The activity may be of the Gods, but it’s the human touch that’s lost.

“Wrath of the Titans” stars Sam Worthington, Toby Kebbell, Rosamund Pike, Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson, Danny Huston, and Bill Nighy. It was directed by Jonathan Liebesman. It is rated PG-13 and will be released on March 30th, 2012.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

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