Friday, March 30, 2012

'Wrath of the Titans' offers more clash than predecessor

Perseus and Pegasus take on Kronos, courtesy Warner Bros.

There’s more clash but not much wrath in the latest sword, sandals and demigod flick, Wrath of the Titans.

Once again starring Sam Worthington as Perseus, half-god son of Zeus (Liam Neeson), the sequel to the 2010 pseudo-Greek mythology Clash of the Titans remake focuses on Worthington as a fisherman father attempting to live a life of peace with his son Helius (John Bell). But Perseus the Kraken-slayer is called back into action when Papa Z is betrayed and captured by his Uncle Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and half-bro Ares (Edgar Ramirez) in a plot to zap the daddy deity of his powers and resurrect uber-god Kronos.

Supposedly the human and godly race were already in danger of extinction by giant magma-man Kronos before the Hades/Ares team-up, so why the big K needed their help is sort of lost in the (lack of) details. But the thrust of the movie is that Perseus has to assemble a god-killing weapon and fight his way through mini-bosses (chimera, Cyclops, Minotaur, machai, oh my!) before a big showdown with Kronos. Along for the ride is another half-god Agenor (Toby Kebbell), Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) and Hephaestus (Bill Nighy).

While the plot is just as jumbled, the good news is that the action and special effects of Wrath are superior to Clash. There is more fun to be had here, and director Jonathan Liebesman (taking over from Louis Letterier) wisely utilizes Neeson and Fiennes more for this godly go-around – even giving them some action to chew on with their dialogue.

Worthington adds a dash more characterization as well, but he still seems to be dourly grumbling through most of the movie. The monsters fare better this time too; although they all move so quickly that there are very few chances to soak them up and really relish their menace. (This is with the exception of the very slow-moving, nonchalant Kronos who seems to really take his time obliterating the masses.) The 3-D effects are also a marked improvement over the justly-maligned post-conversion job from Clash which smacked of a blatant cash-grab for higher ticket sales. But the 3-D still seems somewhat unnecessary here; it isn’t so eye-popping as to warrant the extra bucks.

Gods know that at the end of the day, the sequel doesn’t rise much emotion – but that includes wrath. For a pre-summer appetizer of blockbusters, the 2-D version is a simple, fun 99-minute treat that improves upon its predecessor but isn’t quite ready for a showing at the Mount Olympus megaplex.