The Sons of Katie Elder

The Sons of Katie Elder
"First, we reunite, then find Ma and Pa's killer...then read some reviews."

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Wrath of the Titans

Released in 2010, Clash of the Titans was your pretty standard big budget, CGI-filled blockbuster with a huge if wasted cast. Read my review from last fall HERE if curious. It was entertaining enough in a generic blockbuster sort of way, interesting in the moment but fairly forgettable after that. If that's not a recipe for success, I don't know what it is. Enter stage left, the unnecessary sequel, 2012's Wrath of the Titans.

It has been 10 years since half-God, half-man Perseus (Sam Worthington) helped save the world from the warring gods, defeating the Kraken and preserving peace. But now the gods are at it again, all sorts of hellish creatures and demons escaping from the underworld. Now Perseus lives with his son, Helius (John Bell), and wants nothing to do with the situation, even when Perseus' father, Zeus (Liam Neeson), asks him for his help in defeating the enemy. When Zeus is betrayed by his own brother, Hades (Ralph Fiennes), and his son, Ares (Edgar Ramirez), god of war, only then does Perseus join the fight. Even the half-god, half-man has no idea what awaits him this second time around.

Here's my problem both with this movie and the movie industry in general. Yes, this will sound stupid, naive and did I say 'stupid'? Novel concept, but basically movie's are based off the $ they generate, right? The 2010 Titans was a pretty solid, self-contained story with ridiculous amounts of CGI, some halfway decent characters, and a solid cast. Not to say it was a classic -- it most definitely was not -- but it was enjoyable enough. Generic, a little dull at times, but good in that inoffensive sort of way. I'm doing a hell of a job selling it, aren't I? There were no unsolved stories, no real mystery so why make a sequel? You guessed it. 'Clash' made almost $500 million worldwide. So away we go with a sequel, and yes, I realize I'm shooting my theory in the foot because I'm admitting I paid to see it. I like movies. Sue me.

'Wrath' is basically the same exact movie as 'Clash' except with a few new characters, new love interest, and a wide assortment of weird, cool and odd mythological characters. My hope writing the review of 'Clash' was that with a sequel, characters would get to develop some and a possibly longer run-time would allow the movie and story to develop and breathe...a lot. No such luck, the sequel actually clocking in at seven minutes less (99 to 106) and still somehow managing to feel longer. Go figure....anyways, it's the same formula. Video game-like action, cardboard cutouts of characters, far too much reliance on CGI, and no real interest in a story. It's all disappointing because just like 'Clash,' 'Wrath' certainly has the potential to be really good. It's there. It just needed to be worked with even a little.

Getting little to no help from a script, the cast does their best to work things out. I still believe Worthington is a budding HUGE star just waiting for the right role. He's a bright spot again as Perseus, the hero fighting for his father and son, willing to throw it all on the line. It could have used more of his subtle humor in an otherwise deathly serious movie. A little campy humor couldn't have hurt. Neeson again is awesome as Zeus, Fiennes excellent as the sneering, waffling Hades, and Danny Huston plays Poseidon, the three most powerful Greek gods. Rosamund Pike steps into the love interest part, playing Andromeda, a female general and kick-ass fighter while Bill Nighy gets to be quirky and eccentric as Hephaestus, the scientist/creator of the weapons of the gods.

The best thing going for 'Wrath' is the casting of a quasi-sidekick for Perseus, Toby Kebbell playing Agenor, son of Poseidon so another half-God, half-man roaming the countryside looking for trouble. He injects some much needed energy into a sometimes surprisingly slow-moving story as the roguish anti-hero. Kebbell has some fun with the part, not playing it so straight-laced and button-down. It doesn't have to be physical humor, but something to lighten the mood up a bit, and Kebbell does it well. His exchanges with Worthington's Perseus provide some of the movie's better highlights. Can't say I'm excited for a third Titans movie, but if it's on the horizon, I hope Kebbell returns.

The shame of it all is that 'Wrath' has a chance to be good. We get creature fights with a fire-breathing, two-headed hell-dog straight from Hades, a trio of Cyclops warriors, a running fight with a Minotaur through catacombs and labyrinths that all look alike, and an epic showdown with Kronos, one of the first God/Titans who's been imprisoned for years. Now he's released as a gigantic, immense creature made of rock and spewing lava. Pretty cool finale with him facing Perseus. There's nothing to tie it all together though. The CGI looks good, but gets tedious quickly. The story drifts from episode to episode, and the characters aren't particularly interesting. Gotta go with the same rating as 'Clash.' Lots of wasted potential, but you can certainly do worse.

Wrath of the Titans <---trailer (2012): ** 1/2 /****

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