Wrath Of The Titans – Review31.03.12 # Review # 3 Comments
Our Wrath Of The Titans Review.
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Starring: Sam Worthington, Rosamund Pike, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Bill Nighy
Release Date: UK & US – Out Now
In the run-up to its release, the main hope for Wrath of the Titans has been that the semi-admission of failure from those behind its 2010 forebear Clash of the Titans (producer Basil Iwanyk said of Clash: “No question we wish we did a better job.”) would mean that this sequel would be altogether leaner and meaner.
And, as it turns out, Wrath is rather pleasing in its expediency, with the action rattling along at a fair old pace, dialogue scarcely being allowed to get in the way (in an early scene, Danny Huston’s Poseidon lays out the movie’s entire set-up to Sam Worthington’s Perseus in fewer words than it takes to alert your co-workers to an ablaze wastepaper basket).
Within the first 10 minutes of the film, monosyllabic demigod Perseus has already found himself yanked headfirst back into the feuds of the godly Olympians when the fishing village where he plays single dad to li’l Helius (John Bell) comes under attack from a snarling chimera – it’s a showpiece action scene that director Jonathan Liebesman (replacing Clash’s Louis Leterrier) handles with a visceral, occasionally untidy in-yer-face intimacy.
Liebesman is by no means the sole fresh presence on this new Titans flick; the company of leading players has also undergone a major overhaul. So it’s very much a case of “See ya, wouldn’t want to be ya” to Gemma Arterton’s Io who appears as a gravestone only, while the role of Andromeda has been recast, with erstwhile Bond girl Rosamund Pike giving such a sexless performance as the legendary princess (here upgraded to battlefield-prowling regent) that you’d need to be Sherlock Holmes to twig that she and Perseus are supposed to have the hots for one another.
Almost imperceptible slivers of humour come from Agenor, the grubby urchin offspring of Poseidon played by Toby Kebell (a Hollywood supporting clown of choice it would seem after a similar role in Sorcerer’s Apprentice), and Bill Nighy, jarring in his portrayal of fallen immortal Hephaestus as a cranky Mancunian (having said that, fans of the 1981 Clash of the Titans will likely be tickled by a cameo from Hephaestus’s robo-owl Bobo, a much-mocked R2-D2-alike from the original movie).
Rounding out the mixed bag of newcomers is Edgar Ramirez, star of the epic Carlos, who takes the role of chief heel Ares, the treacherous God of War. The Venezuelan actor is fully committed, spitting out his lines of threadbare motivation with grim purpose, but if anything you feel Ramirez is taking the dress-up panto all a bit too seriously, and you can’t help wondering what Javier Bardem, the reputed first choice for Ares, might have made of it.
It is left to the returning faces from film one to waltz off with the acting honours (such as they are in a movie of this nature). No, not Worthington, but rather Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes, back as brothers Zeus and Hades respectively. The latter in particular has the most interesting character arc, as he initially turns on the former in a bid to maintain the Olympians’ power over an increasingly apathetic mankind, before beginning to doubt the wisdom of throwing his lot in with unremitting git-sack Ares.
Hades and Ares’ meisterplan involves freeing Kronos, the most abominable of the old Titans, from his imprisonment in the craggy underworld of Tartarus – a plotline which is almost identical to that of Immortals, the Universal/Relativity Media flick from last year which also saw a human hero linking up with Zeus in a bid to stop the nasty ol’ Titans from being loosed on humanity.
In Immortals, the big bad guy was Mickey Rourke’s Hyperion, who for reasons known only to director Tarsem spent a great deal of the movie with a squid-hat framing his implausible fizzog; Wrath’s Kronos is a scarcely more terrifying Titan, he turning out to be a giant amorphous CG turd – a rival to Galactus in Rise of the Silver Surfer and Parallax from Green Lantern for boring blobby naffness.
(Incidentally, if we’re lingering over the Wrath–Immortals similarities for a minute then both also feature a sort-of Minotaur, while Agenor from the former is an exceptionally similar character to the latter’s thief-seeking-redemption Stavros, a role filled by Stephen Dorff.)
Still, Fiennes and Neeson are suitably commanding and compelling, the story mostly zips along at a reasonable speed, the 3D is much-improved, and the action is, for the large part, entertaining enough. True, fans of early Neeson fantasy flop Krull might feel that Liebesman, Iwanyk and their battalion of collaborators encroach almost as greatly on that ‘80s cult oddity as they do on Immortals, but what the heck, eh?
And if we’re talking influences, it seems a fair bet Worthington’s hairdresser has been keeping glued to Eastbound & Down, given how closely Perseus’ whipped-back mullet mirrors Kenny Powers’ signature coiffure. Indeed, whatever else Wrath of the Titans does or doesn’t achieve, it’s almost certainly going to be the only blockbuster this year where the main character’s horse has better hair than its owner.
Our Rating: B-