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The worst promotion that Wrath of the Titans could have is that it bears any connection to its terrible 2010 predecessor, Clash of the Titans. Then again as inept, noisy and just plain bad as the first film was, could a sequel do other than be an improvement? While far from perfect, Wrath of the Titans is far superior to its sire in almost every way.

In the years since the demigod prince Perseus saved the world by defeating the undersea titan, Kraken, life has settled into simple mundanity.  A fisherman by trade, Perseus is now a widower and single parent to his son, who he raises to have precious little knowledge of his fatherís heroic deeds or divine lineage.  This doesnít mean the deities in his family have forgotten Perseus; his father Zeus pops in to recruit his son know for one more mission. The power of the gods is fading and thatís really bad news for the human world.  Those powers bound the seal on Tartarus, the prison of the gods, where Zeus and his brothers Poseidon and Hades locked their murderous father, the titan, Kronos millennia ago.  Without every remaining god and demigod on earth joining together to keep Kronos from escaping, both deity and human alike are at risk from the god-eating monster.  Perseus isnít buying it and declines Zeusí request, so Zeus is alone when his brother Hades, along with Zeusí other boy, Ares, the god of war, betrays and attacks both the thunder god and Poseidon.  They plan to hijack Zeusí powers and free Kronos, trusting that the titan will be merciful to the remaining gods.  As the walls of Tartarus crumble, monsters previously locked undergound head topside and wreak havoc all over the earth, including in Perseusí very village.  Good thing heís got all that titan-killing training from the first film to help him out.  Perseus discovers Zeus is imprisoned and recruits Queen Andromeda, who he previously rescued from the Kraken, and a newly-discovered cousin, Agenor, the half-human son of Poseidon to head into Tartarus and free the thunder god.

I could say that Wrath of the Titansís success was clearly due to its learning from the biggest mistake made by its predecessor and doing honour by its special guest star, Bubo the mechanical owl from the original 1981 Clash of the Titans.  In the 2010 remake, Bubo was completely disrespected and hereís heís mistaken for a god.  Excellent.  Iím sure this was no accident for in every other way, Wrath feels closer to the spirit of special effects deity, Ray Harryhausenís films, like Clash of the Titans and Jason and the Argonauts in its approach to believably creating a world where one must admit magic and the inexplicable are real and the heroes must follow their supernatural paths wherever they may lead.  The script for Wrath of the Titans is much better in pacing and dialog and the mythical creatures are far more convincing; like the terrifying, fire-breathing Chimera that attacks Perseusí village and the Makhai, Kronosí heralds of war, are whirling, multi-armed Siamese twins of destruction.  Both actually look like something monster-maker par excellence Harryhausen might have hand-made in plasticine.  On their way to meet the god Hephaestus, creator of Tartarus, the heroes must flee from some truly creepy Cyclopes; first one appearing, followed by a second (Which would make them Bi-Cyclopes?) before a third one (A Tri-Cyclopes?) sees Agenor wielding Poseidonís (a.k.a. Daddyís) trident.  Hephaestus reveals that the only thing that will kill Kronus is the combined power of the weapons of Zeus, Poseidon and the treacherous Hades and agrees to come with them to manoeuvre through the labyrinth into Tartarus.  Things donít go quite as planned and when the human trio must navigate the maze on their own, the shifting, crushing walls make for some cool thrills.  The production design in Wrath of the Titans is much improved overall, including the wigs and beards on the main gods, which I complained about comprehensively in my review of the first film.  This time, thereís only one scene where you can see the wig glue binding Zeusí hairline.  If there is a weak spot, it lies mostly in the unfeasibility of the premise: That Hades, so roundly defeated after all his crafty, Kraken-releasing shenanigans in the first movie could be trusted for a second.  Or that he, in turn, would trust the titan father who previously ate him and his siblings before Zeus freed them all.  He has a big change of heart brought on by nothing that makes sense other than to make the climax warm and fuzzy, which is simply never a phrase that should apply to the god of the Underworld.  The bad guy onus falls to vengeful son, Ares, and the war godís resentfulness of father Zeusí affection for the puny half-breed Perseus makes for a weak device for his massive, self-destructive betrayal.  The mighty God of War holds a grudge cos daddy didnít love him enough?  Feh.  There is a big effort to make this movie very sentimental: The overriding arc is a morality tale about family devotion, even amongst those related to the wayward, capricious gods.  While unrealistic in terms of Greek mythology, itís a much easier plot pill to swallow that the anti-theistic harangue of the first film.  Iím thrilled not to have Perseus whingeing about how much he hates the gods and then using their help at every opportunity.  This time heís fully aware of their import and while he would rather live without them, isnít dumb enough to deny their usefulness, especially when helping them means saving his own child.

Sam Wellington returns as the older and wiser Perseus, with Liam Neeson as his strangely doting father, Zeus.  Ralph Fiennes looks slightly less like a red-eyed hippie as Hades this time, but carries none of the menace he had as the main villain of the last film.  Andromeda is played by Rosamund Pike, who gives good Xena in leather armour, leading her military into battle against the monsters and keeping up with Perseus.  No lilting violet, she, but a brave, capable commander who doesnít let the fact that Perseus looks better in a skirt than she does sway her judgment.  The god of war is played by the handsome, sulky-eyed …dgar RamŪrez, who canít do much with the artless lines heís given, but looks pretty good delivering them and heís got some neat fight scenes with Worthingtonís Perseus.  Bill Nighy of the excellent craggy voice plays the dotty, isolated god, Hephaestus.  Another addition to the cast is Toby Kebbell as Poseidonís son, Agenor, whose Cockney accent is apparently proof that the sea god spent some time in the East End after creating the Thames.  Poor Kebbell mustíve gone through some new boy hazing, being made to wear a weird, fuzzy octopus on his head; clearly a leftover from the first film.  He injects some backhand humour into the proceedings as the petty thief meant for greater things.  And, yes, there is Bubo the owl, finally set to rights with close-ups and everything.  I predict a Bubo spin-off, next.

Much more cohesive, fun and thrilling than its predecessor, Wrath of the Titans is a good time at the movies that does the audience the boon of helping it forget the first film ever happened.

 

~The Lady Miz Diva

March 30th, 2012

 

 

Click here to read our review of 2010's Clash of the Titans

 

 

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Photos

(Courtesy of Warner Brothers)

 

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