Liam Neeson as Zeus in a scene from "Wrath of the Titans." / Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures
'Wrath of the Titans'
Two and a half stars (out of four)
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Two and a half stars (out of four)
"Clash of the Titans," the 2010 film that remade the 1981 original, was a big disappointment.
Don't take my word for it; Sam Worthington, who played Perseus in the remake, has talked in interviews about "screwing up" his role in the movie. The film itself captured none of the goofy charm of the original; instead, it was flat, muddled, with blurry tacked-on 3-D. If ever there was a movie that did not cry out for a sequel, it was "Clash of the Titans."
Well, there's always "The Godfather: Part III" to one-up that argument. Still, "Wrath of the Titans" was not exactly what you'd call hotly anticipated.
And yet, either because of those lowered expectations, or perhaps because everyone seems to be having a lot more fun this time around, "Wrath of the Titans" is an improvement. Not a gigantic leap forward for cinema or anything but, armed with a new director, a new story and the return of a trying-harder Worthington and good ol' Liam Neeson as a put-upon Zeus, a marked upgrade in quality.
The film picks up with Perseus, who, after saving the world in the first go-'round, is now a simple fisherman, a single father raising his son Helius (John Bell). He rejects his lineage — his father is Zeus, but he wants nothing to do with gods. Neither, evidently, does anyone else. Humans are turning away from them, and when they don't pray, we learn, the gods lose their power.
Which, you know, who cares? But there's more to it than that. On a visit to Perseus, Zeus explains that the world will be undone if man continues to reject the gods. Perseus, who defines the term "reluctant hero," doesn't much care, but even Helius realizes the inevitable; he whittles a wooden dagger in his spare time.
Next thing you know Zeus and his brother Poseidon (Danny Huston) pay a visit to the underworld to visit their other brother, Hades (Ralph Fiennes), along with another of Zeus' sons, Ares (Edgar Ramirez). But Ares roughs up Poseidon and he and Hades capture Zeus, planning to use him as a sort of energy source to free Cronos, the rather abusive father — in that he ATE HIS OFFSPRING — the three brothers had defeated. The reasons are kind of fuzzy and illogical, but whatever: the result is that soon demons and hideous creatures are unleashed upon the world, and Perseus is finally bestirred sufficiently to start fighting back.
He'll need help from another demigod, though, so he visits Andromeda (Rosamund Pike), who is busy fighting her own war and has imprisoned Agenor (a goofball Toby Kebbell), Poseidon's son. Perseus convinces her to free him, and the three of them set off for an island that is the key to getting into Tartarus, where Cronos is imprisoned and Zeus is being sapped of his powers. This entails a visit to Hephaestus (Bill Nighy, having a blast), who designed Tartarus and is, as it happens, a stark raving loon. It all sets up an epic battle for the fate of ... well, you know. The world, the universe, humanity, all that.
It's a lot to keep up with, yes, and not all of it holds together. But director Jonathan Liebesman keeps the action moving, so that the leaps in logic — this is on-the-fly mythology, after all — are not as troublesome as they might be.
The technical details, such as the use of 3-D, have been cleaned up, and some of the creatures are pretty awesome. Worthington's Perseus is so ambivalent towards his destiny that it threatens to drag the whole thing down, but he comes around eventually, and so does "Wrath of the Titans." No great shakes, mind you, but a lot more entertaining than its predecessor.
The 2010 remake of 'Clash of the Titans' wasn't exactly crying out for a sequel, but thankfully, 'Wrath of the Titans' is an improvement. Still not great, but better.
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