Directed by: Jonathan Liebesman (Battle Los Angeles)
Starring: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Toby Kebbell, Rosamund Pike
Jonathan Liebesman’s Wrath of the Titans suffers from the same issues as its predecessor, the 2010 remake of Clash of the Titans. Namely, it’s a big old mess of Greek mythology, stirred and mixed into something that’s nowhere near terrible, but yet never comes close to the kind of epic filmmaking $150 million should be able to buy. The special effects are really fancy—well, mostly—and the film does contain a handful of performances that are better than this junky fantasy film deserves. Would I recommend it? No, not really. But can you find worse movies to waste a couple of hours in? Oh, most definitely.
This sequel picks up a few years after Clash, as Perseus (Sam Worthington) has laid down his sword in order to raise his son (John Bell). But this is a movie, after all, and Perseus won’t be allowed to simply lead the quiet life—especially once his father Zeus (Liam Neeson) is crossed by gods Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Aries (Edgar Ramirez, Carlos), and is now slowly being drained of his powers. Why? So that the titan Cronos can be released from the prison Tartarus, of course.
The movie plays pretty fast and loose with the Greek mythology it’s grounded in, but no one is watching this film for an education. They’re here to watch Perseus and his ragtag band of heroes fight all types of CGI nasties. Within this admittedly low aim, Wrath succeeds. The film is a nonstop barrage of sword-and-sandals action and various monsters wreaking havoc. It’s junk food, basically. The action scenes are the high point of the film, of course, but it they’re also the bane, as the lack of any other significant elements means that Wrath will become another of those superfluous action-movie sequels that I’m bound to forget I ever watched.
Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and Danny Huston do commendable jobs keeping straight faces as they deliver silly dialogue while festooned in hokey-looking fake beards and greasy wigs. Bill Nighy steals the show in a fit of scenery chewing as the loony Hephaestus, and Wrath also gives a nice, understated comic-relief role to Toby Kebbell (RocknRolla). What really drags the film down is Worthington (and to a lesser extent, his dead ferret pelt of a haircut), a performer who’s simply too dour to play a hero you want to root for. This type of gruff-yet-noble action hero—with a touch of daddy issues—has been done to death over the past few years, and Worthington doesn’t have the gravitas to make his Perseus likable. He doesn’t sink the film, however. In fact, no one thing ever does. All that dead weight, however, keeps Wrath of the Titans from being a truly good action film. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of fantasy violence and action.