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Wrath of the Titans

March 31, 2012
Wrath of the Titans

It’s debatable which is the greater signal of a creatively bankrupt attempt to cash in on a known property: a terrible remake or a terrible sequel. Thankfully, Wrath of the Titans renders the discussion moot by being a terrible sequel to a terrible remake. While the imagery is not as eye-gougingly bad as the catastrophe that preceded it, the whole thing is shaky, ugly, bleak, and lacks any motivation other than to exploit an ever less discerning audience.

Perseus (Sam Worthington) is back, trying to raise his son with a simple fisherman’s life after his exploits with the Kraken. But his father, Zeus (Liam Neeson) shows up with a warning: as people stop praying to the gods, their power wanes and threatens to release the titans from their prison in Tartarus. That’s right, kids: atheism is the direct cause of the apocalypse. But it turns out that Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Aries (Édgar Ramírez) are actively working to make this happen anyway; they kidnap Zeus and chain him up where Cronus can sap his power and use into escape.

So Perseus must pick up some traveling companions — Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) and Agenor (Toby Kebbell) — enlist the aid of Hephæstus (Bill Nighy), and journey into hell to retrieve Zeus and save the world. Along the way there are cyclopes — I know — and a labyrinth complete with Minotaur — I know — and lots of audiovisual assault and battery.

The idea seems not so much to be to entertain the audience as to bludgeon us into submission. There are lots of names and places that sound Greek-y, but very little connection is ever made to the actual myths that are being pillaged. They just need some excuse to string between the explosions. I’m not saying that absolute fidelity to the source is required, but there’s a difference between a collage and just throwing a lot of junk together and calling it art.

But then director Jonathan Liebesman seems to have looked at Dan Mazeau and David Johnson’s script and loved the colossal mess he saw there. After all, he must have shown it to editor Martin Walsh and said, “give me a hell of a lot more like that!”. The action is chaotic and nonsensical; people say it must be hard to act against a green-screen monster, but I’ll bet it’s a lot easier when you’re never in the same shot as the monster for more than half a second, and that half-second is blurred and shaking into unrecognizability anyway. I really don’t understand the use of the hand-held camera; how does anything here have anything to do with vérité?

And it doesn’t have to be like this; I know because I saw Immortals. While it’s not a great movie, it is at least a beautiful one, and one which pays some respect to the myths that inspired it. Tarsem gives us carefully-crafted, multicolored, multilayered eye candy intended to delight and maybe even inspire; Liebesman throws us a sack of dingy, grey sugar and a wooden scoop, saying “go to town, kid.” Neither one will nourish us, but I know which one I’d rather have.

Worth It: no.
Bechdel Test: fail.

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