Wrath of the Titans

“Wrath of the Titans” is truly a tale “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”.

There are some really lavish special effects – at times, astonishing visual effects, seriously – but the plot is an excuse to string action sequences together, and the characters are carved of wood.

Honestly, if they didn’t come with back stories via being named after people of Greek mythology, the people in this film would have no definition whatsoever.

“Wrath of the Titans” is the sequel to the remake of “Clash of the Titans”.

Which is of special interest here, as a benchmark for visual effects. 1981′s “Clash of the Titans” was most notable (to me) as being the final film of legendary visual effects creator Ray Harryhausen. Harryhausen specialized in stop motion animation… his famous works include “Mighty Joe Young”, “Jason and the Argonauts” and “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad”. Just over 30 years ago, “Clash of the Titans” was already a bit behind the curve in terms of special effects (one of the reasons it was his final film), but its astonishing to see how far we’ve come since then.

As promised in the trailers, “Wrath of the Titans” features some phenomenal creature battles, most notably against a pair of Cyclops. I also enjoyed seeing Perseus ride the Pegasus. Not only were the effects solid and realistic, the creature design was too. If there WAS such a thing as a winged horse, that’s how it would look when it flew. Absolutely. The movie also features some decent cinematography at times. It all adds up to a film that’s very, very impressive visually.

Unfortunately, that’s about all it has going for it.

Hollywood continues their “Blank Slate” experiment with Sam Worthington. Honestly, I just don’t get him as a star. He was fine in Avatar, but aside from that, I just find him bland. Rosamund Pike was pretty unremarkable here, too. As are Toby Kebbell, Bill Nighy, and Édgar Ramírez. There isn’t a performance in the bunch that you’ll remember. Which is good, actually for Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson, LOL. I’m sure they’d just as soon you forget they were in this. Neither one of them elevate this material, it’s too mired in nonsense.

Hades and Ares (Fiennes and Ramírez respectively) turn against Zeus (Neeson) and Poseidon in order to free Kronos. Kronos, Zeus’ and Hades’ father, was overthrown by Zeus and imprisoned in Tartarus. Now that humans are losing their faith in the Gods and no longer praying to them, the Gods have begun to lose their power. Hades and Ares make a deal with the imprisoned Kronos that they will free him in exchange for him bestowing upon them continued immortality. Thus they capture Zeus so that Kronos can siphon his power.

If that gives you Greek God overload, you’re not alone. But that’s the hand we’re dealt here.

And so, Perseus (Worthington), son of Zeus, needs to assemble a weapon capable of harming Kronos, and then go to Tartarus to free his imprisoned father. Along the way, he picks up allies in the form of Andromeda (Pike) and Agenor (Kebbell). Together they do battle against several creatures of myth and legend, including a Chimera, a Minotaur, the Machai, and the aforementioned Cyclops.

The battles against these creatures is where this movie shines. Theyre very well done in terms of the CGI and the action scene choreography. With the exception of the finale (which frankly, is more than a bit silly) they’re very enjoyable. They’re worth checking out if you enjoy seeing movies for their effects and battles. For the spectacle. Because aside from that, this movie has next to nothing to offer. The plot is thin and the characters are weak, and no one does any acting that’s going to be remembered once you leave.

C

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17 thoughts on “Wrath of the Titans

  1. I liked it better than you did. I thought the action scenes were fantastic and that’s what I went to see it for. I thought Kronos was the biggest bad ass I’ve seen on film in a long time. I gave it an 8.
    PS>I heard on your podcast you pronouncing Mr. Fiennes first name like it is spelled. He pronounces it “Rafe”.

    • Well… he should spell it that way then.

      Glad you liked it, havent quite figured out how to talk it out on the show. I liked the battle scenes a lot too.

      Although I have to say, I thought Kronos was a bit silly. The effects were great, but they could have done a different design, no?

  2. I’ve yet to see the predecessor, and the original Clash is something I saw as a child so it’s kind of fuzzy. So it’ll be a good long while before I get around to seeing this… but I kind of suspected that it would be like what you say. Visually impressive, but thin on story. Seems we’ve been trotting out that “good for the spectacle only” line quite a few times lately.

    If I can digress a bit here, and maybe even cross the line just a tad… does it seem to you as if Liam Neeson is burying himself in his work? I know he’s had some bad films in the past, and he’s always been a fairly prolific actor, but it just seems like after his wife died he’s been doing a ton of films without any regard for quality at all. He’s getting to be up there with Walken and Jackson in terms of “any role that’s offered”, and he’s a better actor than either of those two.

    • I guess I couldnt speculate as to his mindset, but perhaps you’re right. Its as good a theory as any I’ve heard.

      It’s just he can be so good when he has the right projects, why isn’t he more choosey?

      I mean, “The Grey” was great, but then he follows it up with this and Battleship.

      Man…

      • Yeah… he’s such a good actor, it seems like he should mostly be in good films. But here has three films coming out in very short succession, and only one of them seems to be very good at all. And it’s more of the exception than the rule looking at his past few years of work.

  3. I might give this a rental down the road. Although I haven’t seen the first one, it’s hard to believe this couldn’t be a notable improvement over it aside from the visuals…

      • I disagree here Fogs, this one is a little worse than the first one which is worse yet than the original. I am thinking that blank slate experiment runs along side the visuals only no plot experiment.

        But then again I dont think that given the way this was constructed even heroic acting could do anything for it, unfortunately. I hate to see a franchise die on a whimper, though perish it must. New Hollywood no longer cares it is clear, and more of the same is in our future.

      • Were you a fan of the original then?

        I havent seen it in decades, so its to the point where I cant even comment on it that strongly.

        I was a little more into this one than the most recent “Clash” although thats not saying much. At least that one had the decency to have the best battle last. LOL

        And a ctachphrase. There’s no “Release the Kraken!” here by any means.

  4. I think my biggest issue with the film, honestly, is Liebesman. He’s not sure what kind of movie he’s making– a light-hearted, silly adventure movie, or a grim and serious sword and sandal movie. And he has no idea how to balance both sides out, so the movie just feels tonally discordant. Either he needed to figure out how to make the two sides harmonious with each other or he needed to stick to one direction.

    And the stuff between Zeus and Hades is way undercooked.

    The movie shines during monster fights, but there are times when everything goes Battle: LA on our asses and we lose track of what’s going on. Where does the two-headed thing’s tail end and his torso begin? That’s to say nothing of the random dust/ash clouds that fly over the battlefield every once in a while. Outside of those irritations, the action looks good and honors the designs of the monsters, though, and in particular the Kronos scene is pretty great.

    Did you get the impression that Liebesman is a big video gamer while watching this?

    • Ha! That is funny. Now that you mention it a lot of those battle sequences DO seem directly lifted from video games. I can totally image that flying sequence against Kronos at the end… ppbbbt! Nice one.

      Meanwhile, I think they totally tried to go the serious route, and just failed occasionally. Like you say, “the stuff between Zeus and Hades is way undercooked.” WAY undercooked. :D

      Its funny though, I thought the Kronos scene was where it got silly. I thought the Chimera was actually some of the best!

      BTW – listening to The Dearfilm podcast from this weekend on the way in. Halfway through or so.

      I think you’re “in the lead” you definitely rejected Brian’s point about there being no bonding between Katniss and Rue. You went, well, wait, didnt they cook that bird and talk about boys? I was like, “Rejected!!” :D “Stuffed!!’

      • The Kronos and Chimera scenes both felt like boss fights in World of Warcraft to me; I liked them both, but there’s just something so step-by-step and stage-like about Kronos’ “encounter” that I can’t help but think back to my WoW raiding days. “Tanks engage Kronos’ adds while DPS burns them down. Healers use AoE effects to keep the raid alive. Stack Fire Resistance. At the 10 minute mark, have your best DPS fly into the Maw of Kronos and attack his innards. Collect loot.”

        I really wanted the Zeus/Hades conflict to be fleshed out and good; Fiennes and Neeson are both total hosses, and I wanted to really feel the electricity– so to speak– as they teamed up to have some fun. (Which, again, felt video game-like to me.) But it just sort of happens. Hades hates Zeus! Hades turns Zeus into molten Neeson! Zeus forgives Hades! Hades forgives Zeus! HIGH FIVE! There’s really no struggle in that entire arc. There’s just boring, bland inevitability. I did still derive some joy from watching two greats walk around and kick ass, but it would have been nice if they could have done more than just gesture and send monsters flying or spear them with their own weapons, and it would have been nice if I’d been more invested in their story first.

        Re: podcast. Thanks. I think I sound way, way angrier about the whole culture of complaining over Rue’s and Thresh’s skin color, and I definitely get flustered once or twice, but I think I represented in favor of the movie pretty well overall.

      • Part of podcasting is learning to accept the fact that you’re never going to sound as good on the fly as you’ll wish you did in retrospect. LOL. And you’re totally right about Neeson and Fiennes… its such a huge “Could have been” here. Shame.

  5. “Wrath of the Titans” is truly a tale “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” You said it Dan. I saw the first one, suffice to say I won’t even be renting this one!

    • Seems to be the consensus across the boards. The only disagreement I’ve seen is whether or not people are willing to recommend it just based on the visuals or not.

      Aside from that, this ones open and shut!

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