2010′s Clash of the Titans isn’t the first film you’d expect to see a sequel to. Its critical reception was very mixed and it became the poster child for lackluster 3D conversions. Not only did it add fuel to fire for critics of 3D but also audiences that didn’t feel they got their money’s worth. Two years have passed; 3D has come a long way but are audiences ready for more Perseus, the Gods, giant monsters, and a mythical flying horse that can never be spooked.
Ten years have passed since the events of Clash of the Titans; Perseus is now a widower and is raising his son alone as a simple fisherman. His father, Zues is kidnapped by his half brother Ares and his Uncle Hades who are hell bent on releasing the Titans upon mankind. Driven to protect his son, Perseus embarks on a dangerous rescue mission to free his father and defeat the Titans and their leader Kronos, a giant lava spewing man made of rock.
Before I get started I’ll answer the question I know everyone wants answered… Take a deep breath, Bubo gets his cameo.
I enjoyed both versions of Clash of the Titans; the 1981 version starring Harry Hamlin as Perseus is a lot of fun and I feel similarly about the 2010 version. Neither film qualifies as high art and they’re unapologetic about that fact; they’re silly films, they know they’re silly, and not only do they embrace that fact but they thrive on it.
Unfortunately, if you’re going to be a silly mythical action film you have to deliver on what you advertise and give the audience something new. Wrath of the Titans has a lot of action in it but it never ups the ante in any way that eclipses its predecessor. There’s plenty of action but there’s no “WOW” scene that sets it apart from other action films. I kept waiting for there to be a sequence that would match up against the giant Scorpion attack from Clash of the Titans in both scope and excitement but sadly it never comes.
In a lot of ways Wrath of the Titans feels like a rehash of Clash of the Titans right down to the final showdown of Perseus fighting a giant foe a la the Kracken. When Perseus was faced with a long and treacherous journey in Clash of the Titans he was joined by a rag tag team of soldiers, mercenaries, a former Bond girl, and Bond villain played by good actors like Mads Mikkelsen, Liam Cunningham, Nicholas Hoult, and Gemma Arterton. Wrath of the Titans has its own group accompanying Perseus on his journey including another former Bond girl but most of them might as well have been Star Trek security officers in Red shirts because they’re simply nameless victims/lunch for the mythical beasts.
Several notable cast changes have taken place between Clash and Wrath including Rosamund Pike taking over for Alexa Davalos as Andromeda and Édgar Ramírez replacing Taner Hassan as Ares. Admittedly Rosamund Pike is an attractive actress but she’s never displayed a lot of range and here she’s not even given a chance to fail, she’s even more boring than her predecessor. Édgar Ramírez is almost 10 years younger and looks more fit than the actor he replaced but his rugged looks don’t excuse him channeling his best Joaquin Phoenix spoiled brat routine from Gladiator.
This franchise’s greatest asset continues to be Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes who seem content slumming it for the easy paycheck. I still get a lot of amusement from watching the Schindler’s List reunion of Oskar Schindler and Amon Goeth continue their battle in ancient Greece. Believe it or not Sam Worthington continues to be mildly entertaining as Perseus even though he doesn’t have a lot of range. I haven’t jumped on board the Worthington bandwagon yet mostly because he hasn’t displayed that he can lead a movie with a without there being a gimmick or major franchise behind him. He’s starred in some successful films but I don’t think they’re hits based solely on him being the star.
Even with the all backlash concerning the lousy 3D conversion done for the last film the filmmakers choice to shoot Wrath of the Titans in conventional 2D and convert it to 3D in post-production. Thankfully the results are much better than what we saw with Clash of the Titans; the picture was never murky looking with the light level being surprisingly good even in sections of the film that took place in darkened areas. That success unfortunately comes with a lot of gimmickry that culminates with one of the cheesiest uses of 3D I’ve yet seen. In an early scene in the film the aspect ratio briefly changes creating a letterbox effect so that the monster’s head appears to “leap” further out of the screen. I don’t know if it was as obvious to the rest of the audience as it was to me but that is the definition of gimmicky in my book. Not helping matters either was the excessive use of hand held photography which combined with 3D caused a lot of eye fatigue. I see a lot of films in 3D and I own a passive 3D TV and I was constantly taking off my glasses and rubbing my eyes. Overall the 3D in Wrath of the Titans is leaps and bounds better than what was presented in Clash of the Titans. That turns out to be a double edged sword however with the 3D being a little too liberally applied throughout the film.
Wrath of the Titans is also being released in IMAX theaters. Keep in mind that the film was not shot in IMAX and does not contain any exclusive IMAX footage. You can still take advantage of the larger screen sizes and enhanced digital sound IMAX offers but the image will appear letterboxed due to the use of IMAX’s DMR technology.
Is Wrath of the Titans a terrible film? Not really, it is what it is. Unfortunately I don’t think it’s nearly as much fun as its predecessors nor does it explore any new territory. The recasting of several existing characters didn’t add to story and the most of the new characters weren’t given anything to do but die horrifically. Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, and even Sam Worthington continue to be the main reason to keep checking in on this franchise. Hopefully if there’s a third entry they’ll go in a slightly different direction so it because at this point the plot is about as original as the Emperor making the Death Star 2 in Return of the Jedi.