Wrath of the Titans

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Laura Clifford 
Wrath of the Titans

Robin Clifford 

Ten years after defeating the Kraken, Perseus (Sam Worthington) must abandon the quiet life he's chosen with his son when he learns that his half-brother Ares (Edgar Ramírez, "Che")  and Hades (Ralph Fiennes) are plotting with his grandfather Kronos to capture his father, the god Zeus (Liam Neeson), putting all mankind in jeopardy of the "Wrath of the Titans."

Laura:
I was frankly appalled to learn that, after becoming the poster child for everything that was wrong with post-conversion 3D, the sequel to "Clash of the Titans" was not shot in the format either, but apparently the conversion process has either improved dramatically or a lot more time and care went into this one. Gone are the double images and blurring that so marred the first film.  The story, here, has also been streamlined and Worthington wears the hero mantle a bit more comfortably, but the film is still something of an empty big budget spectacle.

Perseus has rejected the gods for the life of a simple fisherman, but so, apparently, has most of the human race as their lack of prayer has seriously diminished the gods' power.  And, as usual, the gods are bickering. Perseus learns that his father has been imprisoned in Tartarus from his uncle, Poseidon (Danny Huston, "The Constant Gardener"), who tells him to find *his* half human son, Agenor (Toby Kebbell, "Control"), and give him his trident so that they can fight back.  Then Poseidon does something no god has ever done before - he dies.

Perseus, who has been living only for his 10 year-old son Helius (John Bell) since his wife died, finds that he is still drawn to his own father, but before he can set out, their village is attacked by a fire-breathing, two-headed beast (which slobbers well in 3D).  Once that has been put down, Perseus takes off on the winged black stallion Pegasus.  He finds his cousin held prisoner by the warrior Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike, "An Education") who regards Agenor as a con man and thief, but the three join forces to find 'the fallen one,' Hephaestus (Bill Nighy, "Hot Fuzz," "Pirate Radio"), the maker of the gods's distinctive weapons and also the architect of Tartarus.  A sea voyage, a trio of Cyclops and a clash with the traitorous Ares later and the three enter the secret passage to make their way towards Zeus.

If the first film was humorless, its sequel is guilty of misplaced laughs.  Toby Kebbell adds some much needed levity as Agenor, but even he can't pull off the self-aware description of his cousin's fame ('Perseus, son of Zeus, release the Kraken and all that').  Nighy gets away with more, but he's in the film a lot less, represented here as a kind of Q to Perseus's Bond.  Hamming it up with abandon, Neeson and Fiennes are actually fun as the squabbling brothers who join forces one last time.  Pike is always an asset and here we learn she can deliver a surprising whoop of a war cry when she isn't making eyes at her costar.  Unfortunately, Ramírez is totally misused as Ares, bringing nothing but bulk and a one-off accent and the young Bell fails to register as a child of his long-ago time - he's too geeky looking and just stands around fretting, nothing at all like a chip off the old block.  Sinéad Cusack ("Eastern Promises") is this outing's outsized casting exercise (Elizabeth McGovern factored in the first) as Helius's nanny.

Director Jonathan Liebesman ("Battle Los Angeles") keeps things moving along at a decent clip, but plummets into the same pitfall as the original with an overblown ending featuring an outsize, CGI enemy.  Kronos, Perseus's 'grandfather,' is depicted as a giant made of fire and brimstone, a human volcanic eruption, and the Titans of the title are difficult to identify - is that Satanic looking thing Perseus kills in the underworld one or are they the dual-torsoed soldiers who attack Andromeda's army?  Or both?

Writers Dan Mazeau  & David Leslie Johnson ("Orphan," AMC's 'The Walking Dead') have done a better job with the smaller male dynamics between Zeus and Hades and Perseus and Zeus.  In creating a new myth, they may have also happily ended the franchise - only one god is left alive.

C

Robin:
Robin did not see this film.
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