‘Wrath Of The Titans’ Review
Solid action-packed sequel is better than original but still carries over flaws.
Another year, another big Hollywood action movie that exploits Greek mythology. This time around, we’ve got a sequel to a very mediocre ‘Clash of the Titans’ which still did gangbusters business. So is ‘Wrath of the Titans’ any good? Well, it’s much better than ‘Clash of the Titans’ in almost every regard whether it’s action, special effects, the 3-D, or the sense of thrill. But it’s still a disposable and thin plot with zero character development, which keeps it from being a very good film.
The plot follows Perseus (Sam Worthington) years later, now living with his son after the death of his wife. But he has to leave his life of peace and return back to action after his father Zeus (Liam Neeson) is imprisoned by Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Ares who are offering him to the imprisoned Titan Kronos to achieve immortality. Perseus has to venture into dangerous territory and battle all sorts of creatures to form the ultimate weapon that can defeat the destructive Kronos before he wreaks havoc on the world.
There were a number of issues that plagued 2010’s ‘Clash of the Titans’ and horrific post-converted 3D was one of them. It was so bad that it will forever be written as the movie that killed the allure of 3D for audiences thanks to a hasty money-grab of a job that Warner Brothers did with the film at the last minute. But that wasn’t it. The film also suffered from hammy acting, a screenplay lacking in scope or forward momentum, a wasteful story and weak direction aside from a few standout scenes that included the Medusa sequence. Even the ending was highly anti-climactic and disappointed audiences. So you would be happy to know that ‘Wrath of the Titans’ sets out to fix most of these things and succeeds. But not on all fronts.
First off, there’s a lot better action here and that’s the key reason to watch this film. Unlike the last time, here the scope is actually very epic and the movie finds plenty of great set-pieces to deliver on the action it promises. The film is so much more exciting to watch compared to ‘Clash’ that you wouldn’t even believe it, and I give credit for that to the new director Jonathan Liebesman who brought the flair he showed in ‘Battle LA’ here and nails the action quotient of the film. Right off the bat, you’ve got a huge monster battle which is highly thrilling to watch followed by a foreboding dream that Perseus has about the Kronos which is extremely well done and manages to overwhelm you. Action scenes keep following as the film goes on and is topped by a spectacular finale with possibly the biggest sized villain ever captured on screen in the form of Kronos. It might be too familiar to the first movie in terms of how the finale comes to be but the payoff is much more satisfying in this sequel than it was in the original. Special effects deserve a special mention, because they are very impressive to see on screen. All the monsters look very authentic and perfectly blend into the environment, and the highlight is watching Kronos and the smoke he emits after destroying villages. It must be a very hard task but the filmmakers make sure that the spectacle isn’t cheap at any point, which is something I can’t say about ‘Clash’.
Let’s just say that in terms of action and effects, ‘Wrath’ is light years ahead of ‘Clash’.
But along with that, other problems from ‘Clash’ still linger on in the sequel and one of the key departments is story. While ‘Wrath’ has a much more simplified and focused story than ‘Clash’ which actually works for the movie, there’s still no depth to it at all and is as generic as they come. The entire plot is just an excuse for Perseus to battle a bunch of monsters so he can win. After the first act which actually does a good job at setting up the basic premise, the film shifts into all action mode and never comes back. We are treated to a few dialogue scenes here and there but they are just there to transition into the next action scene, which is the same problem that the original faced. That said, the momentum here is much better and there’s a proper escalation of events that lead to a well-earned finale. Some might say that the movie feels undercooked at a runtime that just flies by and I would agree. It’s the definition of a junk food action movie and is like a ride that’s over before you want it to be.
Another department is character development, which is to say that ‘Wrath’ barely has any. This is something that was much more pronounced in ‘Clash’ but is very much present here as well. We never really learn anything about the new characters introduced including Andromeda and Ares other than the cookie cutter explanations that are briefly offered. Helius is one of the new characters in the film and sadly never has any function in the plot other than provide comic relief. Comic relief actually helps the movie though, as it eases the fast paced overwrought nature of its plot and it’s something that the original lacked for the most part. But at the same time, it’s not too much to ask for our Greek heroes to actually have a three dimensional personality. Speaking of three dimensions, let’s be clear on this – ‘Wrath’ was not shot in 3-D but was post-converted just like ‘Clash’. But just because of the fact that they shot it with 3-D conversion in mind, you’d be surprised to know how effectively they use it in the film. While it’s not a necessity for you to see the film in 3-D, the extra dimension actually makes the film look more epic and all the CGI sequences use it to great effect. If only the original had such kind of a conversion, there wouldn’t have been such bad buzz around it as it was when it got released.
Acting was something that was sorely lacking in the original especially from Sam Worthington who played a very dull and bland Perseus (even he admitted to that in an interview). But here, his performance is majorly improved. Not to say that he pulls a Daniel Day Lewis on us, but he actually nails the character by being the intense and physical hero that the film needs and looks believable in the part without skimping on emotion. Liam Neeson has limited stuff to do here but shines as Zeus, but Ralph Fiennes as Hades impresses and Édgar Ramírez plays an effective villain as Ares. Bill Nighy is the scene stealer here as a small but memorable character and shows once again why he’s an amazing actor whose presence improves a film. Rosamund Pike isn’t given anything interesting to do and in effect comes off as pointless, while the rest of the cast does the needful.
‘Wrath of the Titans’ is a solid improvement over its predecessor by improving on most of the original’s faults and providing at the least an entertaining junk food action movie that’s high on effects and spectacle. But it’s unfortunate that it’s saddled with a weak story and character development that keeps it from being truly godly in terms of quality.