A film review by Craig J. Koban April 3, 2012


2012, PG-13, 99 mins.


Perseus: Sam Worthington / Zeus: Liam Neeson / Hades: Ralph Fiennes / Andromeda: Rosamund Pike / Hephaestus: Bill Nighy / Poseidon: Danny Huston / Ares: Edgar Ramirez / Agenor: Toby Kebbell

Directed by Jonathan Liebesman / Written by Dan Mazeau and David Johnson.


Being a half man/half god kind of…blows, especially if you have just saved the entire world from the mighty Kraken and just want to lay low, get married, make babies, and live the modest and quiet life of a noble fisherman. 

At the beginning of WRATH OF THE TITANS It seems that Perseus (Sam Worthington) - the half-breed bastard child of Zeus (Liam Neeson) and a human mother – has now become a legend for his aforementioned defeat of the mountain-sized creature (shown in the climax of 2010’s CLASH OF THE TITANS) and, for a better part of a decade, he has managed to eek out a life of relative seclusion with his 10-year-old son, Helius (John Bell), but his wife, IO (played by Gemma Arterton in the last film, a no show this go around) has long since died.  But just when Perseus thinks that he has hung up his amour and sword for good, his poppa and other gods come along with a dire emergency that requires his aid.  Poor Perseus, just went he wants out, the gods come and - to paraphrase the great Michael Corleone – “pull him back in!” 

Yeah, that deity Zeus is the ultimate killjoy for his son.  He arrives without warning to tell Perseus that people have began to stop praying to all the gods, which has had a negative side effect of making the gods less powerful and, in turn, could eventually render them as weak as mortals (atheism is their kryptonite).  Worse yet, since faith in the gods is slipping, the walls of the underworld prison of Tartarus are also weakening, which really sucks, seeing as Zeus imprisoned his own sibling, Hades (Ralph Fiennes) there in the last film for being a very naughty god.  Worse yet is that Hades and his son, Ares (Edgar Ramirez) are plotting to release Kronos (father to Zeus and Hades), who would unleash the apocalypse if released.  Zeus pleads with his son to aid him in stopping his brother and nephew’s dastardly plans, but Perseus respectfully declines.  The man just wants to be left alone and fish.

Zeus goes to the underworld to confront Hades, only to be attacked and wounded by the demons that Hades unleashes on him (for a guy with the reputation of Zeus, he goes down pretty easily) and – Great Odin’s raven! – Ares steals Zeus’ magical lightning bolt!  Now that Zeus is captured and weakened, Hades plans to literally suck the omnipotent powers right out of him and transfuse them to the hibernating Kronos.  Hmmmm….do you think that  Perseus will find out of this plot, come out of monster-god-bashing retirement, hook back up with old allies like Andromeda (Rosamund Pike, replacing Alexa Davalos) and new ones like the half-god Agenor (Toby Kebbell), come to Zeus’ rescue, overthrow the Titans, stop Kronos, and save the world? 



Much like CLASH OF THE TITANS, WRATH OF THE TITANS should not be taken too seriously.  Both it and its predecessor have fun with their own inherent schlockiness and cornball elements as a giddy, muscular, and monster-jam-packed mythological fantasy epic.   These films seem to find the right blend of being solemn and silly, which is a hard dichotomy to effectively pull off without coming off as unintentionally laughable.  As far as pure popcorn entertainments go, WRATH OF THE TITANS succeeds at not taken itself as gravely as a heart attack because it inherently just has a sense of whimsical reverence with the inherent material.  

And, seriously people, do we go to see films like this for their keen insights into the human – or non-human – condition and for searing drama or do we go to them for their monsters, mayhem, and visual effects spectacle?  I believe it to be the latter, and WRATH OF THE TITANS is dutifully crammed with all sorts of mankind-hating monsters that engage in obligatory, but proficiently handled and satisfying battles with the heroes.  When the walls of Tartarus breaks a Chimera is unleashed that ravages Perseus’ village in an early sequence.  Later, Perseus and is “fellowship” are attacked by a squad of giant Cyclops that packs a real visceral wallop.  From there we get Perseus’ mano-a-mano donnybrook with a minotaur and, in the film’s fever pitched climax, the Kronos is unleashed in the form of a humanoid creature of immeasurable size made up of rock, lava, and ash that spits out molten hot magma at his targets.  WRATH OF THE TITANS exists for moments like this, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. 

The performances sometimes can get lost in these movies, but there are some standouts, like Neeson and Fiennes reprising their roles as battling and squabbling brothers that once again understand how to play these larger-than-life (literally!) roles just broad enough to not emerge as high camp; they are able to make even the most groan inducing of lines simmer with a gravitas and weight.  Worthington may not be a performer of range, but he brings the requisite fist-pumping and teeth-clenched bravado to his role as he did in the first film.  New to this entry is the great Bill Nighy, who brings some sly comic relief as Hephaestus, the former weapons maker of the gods who holds the key for Perseus making the ultimate weapon that will defeat Kronos (that, and he’s a bit of a kooky ol’ schizophrenic).  Toby Kebbell also provides some merriment as his likeably self-aggrandizing half-god.  Rosamund Pike is here for window dressing, but she sure is fine window dressing.  To be fair, she is given far more to work with than Davalos had in the first installment. 

Louis Leterrier has not returned for directorial duties this time and has been replaced by BATTLE: LOS ANGELES helmer Jonathan Liebesman, who blends the film’s real and unreal elements with a workmanlike precision and competence (even though he devolves at times in some instances of jittery, shaky-cam hysterics when framing the action, which is not what we want when we yearn to drink in and engage in the film’s wondrous sights).  Liebesman does find some innovation in one nifty sequence that involves Perseus and company navigating through unfathomably complex stone labyrinth and does a much better job than his predecessor at utilizing 3D effects for a much more fluid and engaging effect.  CLASH OF THE TITANS became the poster child of how wretched an after-the-fact multi-dimensional unpconversion could be, but here Liebesman and his effects wizards seem to have taken care in shooting the film with 3D in mind and not the other way around.

I have heard many critics criticize WRATH OF THE TITANS for being more of a mass marketed product than a movie.  That’s a partially fair sentiment, but as far as movies-as-products go, WRATH OF THE TITANS is a well-made product that delivers on intended blockbuster extravaganza promises.  The film is a manufactured engine to engage and thrill us with its imagery and swords and sandals action.  I liked the monsters.  I liked the virtuoso visual effects work.  I liked seeing great thespians like Neeson and Fiennes ham it up without outright hamming it up.  I liked the half-god versus god WWE-like fisticuffs.  I liked seeing the film’s hero fly right into the mouth of Kronos - going in for the kill -  packing serious forged-by-the-gods heat.  WRATH OF THE TITANS thrusts itself at viewers with the swiftness and force of a Zeus-like lightning bolt and neither looks back or apologizes.  It’s not a Kraken-sized fantasy masterpiece, but a diversion worthy of mortal men. 

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