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Mar 30, 2012
08:34 AMTalk about Arts
Movie Review: Wrath of the Titans
Films opening this weekend:
The Deep Blue Sea - Eastern Hills Dipson
Mirror Mirror - Maple Ridge; Market Arcade; Elmwood, Transit, Galleria, Quaker, Hollywood Regals; Flix
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen - Eastern Hills Dipson; Quaker Regal
Thin Ice - Amherst Dipson
Wrath of the Titans - Maple Ridge; Market Arcade; Elmwood, Transit, Galleria, Quaker, Hollywood Regals; Flix
There's nothing like a little patricide to bring two estranged brothers like Zeus (Liam Neeson) and Hades (Ralph Fiennes together again. It's what teamed them up to imprison their father Cronus long ago in the underworld prison Tartarus, and it's what will ultimately make them choose sides again while humanity looks on helplessly for a victor. And while Perseus (Sam Worthington) wouldn't have minded killing his own God of a father in Clash of the Titans, it is his half-brother Ares (Édgar Ramírez) who is ready to usurp familial bonds this time around. And thus begins Wrath of the Titans, a sequel nobody wanted, but a film surprisingly better than its predecessor.
Still not good enough to warrant the third installment currently in pre-production, the screenwriters had the latitude to create something fresh and new without needing the monsters that nostalgia deemed necessary from the first. Instead, director Jonathan Liebesman is able to instill the "on the frontline" shaky-cam approach he took with Battle: Los Angeles, putting us side-by-side with Perseus as fire and brimstone rains down.
A promise to his now dead wife to raise their son Helius (John Bell) as a fisherman without the sword causes the son of Zeus to refuse his father's plea for help against a coming apocalypse and watch as a new war from Hades begins. Uncle and nephew form an allegiance against the God of Thunder to transfer his power into the destroyer Cronus. With humanity's lack of faith reaching its apex and making the Gods almost mortal, there's never been a better time to annihilate Zeus' little pets. Meanwhile, Perseus will stop at nothing to keep the world safe for Helius.
Wrath's journey is welcomingly much more cohesive than Clash's. Yes, there is a never-ending parade of monsters, but they move the story along, and help keep us invested in our hero's quest. The computer effects are light years better than two years ago and the 3D, miraculously, isn't a distraction. Throw in a pretty cool looking Cronus and a gorgeous sequence inside the Tartarus labyrinth, and the art direction scores a win.
But while the graphics help increase interest, it's actually the acting—yes, the acting—that vaults this one over the original. Worthington broods as usual and Ramírez lacks character development to be more than a one-dimensional brute, but at least Fiennes and Neeson show what Oscar nominees can add to even an effects-laden affair. The real winners, however, are Toby Kebbell as Agenor and Bill Nighy as Hephaestus. If Clash of the Titans was missing anything besides a good plot, realistic creatures, and entertainment beyond a couple action sequences, it was humor. With Kebbell's sarcasm and Nighy's brilliant ability to portray eccentric genius, enjoyment will be had.
I would have thought the shear camp of the original Clash would have made the remake poke fun at itself, but it took the internet reappropriation of "Release the Kraken" to show Warner Bros. the error of its way. Hearing Nighy utter the phrase with indifference proves Hollywood studios may have a sense of humor after all.
Wrath of the Titans 6/10 | ★ ★ ½
 (L-r) DANNY HUSTON as Poseidon and SAM WORTHINGTON as Perseus in Warner Bros. Pictures' and Legendary Pictures' action adventure "WRATH OF THE TITANS," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo by Jay Maidment
 LIAM NEESON as Zeus in Warner Bros. Pictures' and Legendary Pictures' action adventure "WRATH OF THE TITANS," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures