Edited by Dorrin Gingerich
Wrath of the Titans, the sequel to 2010’s Clash of the Titans, follows Perseus (Sam Worthington) in yet another battle against the gods of Olympus. The gods, directly sustained by the prayers of mortals, grow weaker and weaker as mankind ignores them. Desperate, Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Zeus’ son Ares (Édgar Ramírez) conspire to release Kronos, the chthonic Titan from his imprisonment in the underworld. By allying with him, they hope to rule the world once he destroys mankind. Zeus (Liam Neeson) knows that the Kronos cannot be controlled once he awakes, so he convinces the reluctant Perseus to step up and save the world.
What Works - Surprisingly, Wrath of the Titans is quite a bit better than its prequel. From the very first battle, I noticed that some of the monster designs looked more creative and memorable than in the last film. For example, a two-headed brute called a Chimera, a nightmarish mixture of beasts, attacks Perseus’ village, convincing him that his family will not be safe unless he takes on the evil Kronos. One of the Chimera’s heads spews flammable liquid and the other provides the spark, enabling it to breathe fire and decimate the countryside. It’s eyeless, shaggy, reptilian, and all-around weird-looking. Even its tail has teeth! In sum, the concept art seemed more inspired than in Clash.
Rather than introducing scores of non-descript characters this time around, the film focuses on fewer protagonists and adds more personality. Agenor (Toby Kebbell), the wise-cracking son of Poseidon, accompanies Perseus on his quest, and they meet the fallen god Hephaestus (Bill Nighy), who shows them the path through the labyrinth leading to the underworld. Bill Nighy particularly stood out, even though he only stayed onscreen for a short time. Hephaestus’ addled, eccentric inventor persona seemed to fit him well, and he had quite a few surprisingly good lines. In fact, generally, the script is more self-aware than in the last film, and it doesn’t shy away from the occasional funny one-liner.
What Didn't Work - The plot moves too quickly from one scene to the next, and it doesn’t always make perfect sense. Just like in the first movie, some of the transitions are handled by characters basically saying “We must go [do this now]! or else [this will happen]!” The laws of their mythical universe and the powers of their magical artifacts remain a bit too fuzzy. Still, the inelegant exposition keeps the pace up, which works in this film’s favor if the audience is willing to go along with it.
The CG setpieces looked great, and the effects take center stage in this installment as well, but the non-CGI battles suffered, reduced to a series of lightning quick, close-up cuts. Any battle against Kronos, the Cyclopes, or the six-armed Makhai looked fine, but during hand-to-hand fights against person-sized opponents like Ares or the Minotaur, I often couldn’t tell what was happening.
Overall - A fun movie,…perhaps due to my low expectations. Between the creature designs, the visual effects, and the faster pace, I stayed interested throughout. I may have been disappointed if I had paid theater price for it, but as a rental, I enjoyed it.
A quote from the movie
Hades -You look 10,000 years younger.
Zeus - And feel it.