Wrath of the Titans (2012): Liebesman’s Sequel to Clash of the Titans, Starring Sam Worthington, Rosamund Pike, Bill Nighy

Just two years after the 3D “Clash of the Titans” remake, the 3D sequel is already being unleashed.  Production began simultaneously with the release of the previous installment, which grossed close to $500 million worldwide, despite negative reviews.

According to the Rotten Tomatoes meter, “Clash of the Titans” received predominantly negative reviews (72 percent) and only 28 percent favoravle ones.

Our review of Clash of Titans: www.emanuellevy.com/review/clash-of-the-titans-2/

Our review of the far superior 1981 picture: www.emanuellevy.com/review/clash-of-the-titans-1981-8/

Director Louis Leterrier has been replaced by Jonathan Liebesman, who last year directed “Battle: Los Angeles.”  Since the 2010 “Clash of the Titans” was generally reviled as both silly and tedious by movie critics and fans alike, Liebesman goes out of his way to make more of this material than Leterrier, but to no avail.  With the exception of some visual thrills, the end result is disappointing.

Liebesman’s action sequences are overall punchier—his visuals more striking, his monsters mostly cooler—but the silliness and tedium continues whenever the actors have occasion to open their mouths and to utter the nonsensical speeches they are handed.

A team of fine actors, including Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes, has bravely returned for another round, and they bring some stature and class. But Liebesman, like Leterrier before him, does not give them much room to have fun with this stuff, except near the very end, by which time, it’s too late to get involved.  For example, there are way too many dull scenes with Zeus (Neeson) solemnly trying to appeal to the other players’ better angels.

It is unsettling to see Edgar Ramirez, who was so amazing in the French epic crime “Carlos” (2010) go Hollywood here in the poorly written part of Ares, Perseus’s jealous brother. (That transition also did not take long.)

Liebesman needed a better script than Leterrier had, and for “Wrath of the Titans,” there is a new writing team, Dan Mazeau and David Leslie Johnson. But they chase the same dragons that burned the last film down—too much talk that goes nowhere, and makes no sense, thematically or dramatically.

Zeus has the most to say and also the most ridiculous things to say, such as “Oh Hades, what have I done to you?” A few of his lines are lifted from the “Star Wars” universe, which all the fan boys in attendance will no doubt recognize: “I know there’s still good in you.” “Use the power inside you.”

The writers also have the unfortunate tendency to repeat plot points as if the audience is unable to remember the story basics. If you did not know that Perseus is half-god, half-human, this fact will have been drilled into your mind by the end of this movie.

“Wrath of the Titans” takes place a decade after the mostly forgettable events of “Clash of the Titans.” A well-conceived opening sequence, intended to be the quiet before the storm, reintroduces Perseus, played again by Sam Worthington, whose appeal is already in decline. Perseus has retired from his previous heroism and “gone fishing,” as his maniacal brother Ares (Ramirez) puts it, living the unassuming life of a fisherman and single dad for his young son.

In a movie that attempts to gain traction with father-and-son thematics, Perseus is initially determined to not follow any farther in the footsteps of his famous father, Zeus. But as the epoch of the gods comes to an end—principally because people are no longer praying to them, believing in them as they once did—godly infighting draws Perseus reluctantly back into the game.

Zeus is imprisoned by his brother Hades (Fiennes) in the empty underworld city of Tartarus, where Hades lets the brothers’ father, Kronos, an enormous fiery entity, suck away Zeus’s powers. Perseus must figure out how to rescue his father, plus vanquish all the twisted gods, plus save the world from imminent apocalypse.

That sounds like a lot to cover in a couple hours, so how is the pacing? Some of the set pieces do sing, but then Liebesman keeps taking these regular mumbo-jumbo breaks. Audiences will likely be crying out, “Less talk, more monsters please!”

As in the 2010 film, Perseus acquires a team to help him accomplish his mission. It includes this time Andromeda (Rosamund Pike), Agenor (Toby Kebbell), and Hephaestus (Bill Nighy). More fine actors, but none of them can break free from this screenplay.

Andromeda is the lone woman in this manly desert, and the character barely registers. When she makes dramatic pronouncements that start out like “We humans hope when there’s no hope,” it seems the writers intended her to be the mouthpiece for all human things good and fair, but doesn’t that make her really boring?

Hephaestus, the only one who knows the secret way into Tartarus, is supposed to offer the comic relief, but he is mostly exasperating. That is, until he suddenly and arbitrarily disappears from the narrative, never to return.

“Wrath of the Titans” is like a slightly spruced-up remake of the 2010 “Clash of the Titans,” which was itself a remake of a much better and campier picture.

This picture is rousing in spots, especially during its epic finale, but when it comes to a tale to be told? The gods have abandoned this movie.

For real fun with this mythology, please rent the 1981 “Clash of the Titans,” boasting a stellar cast of all the who’s who in the British theater at the time: Olivier, Maggie Smith, Claire Bloom.

Our review of the 1981 picture: www.emanuellevy.com/review/clash-of-the-titans-1981-8/.

 

Jeff Farr contributed to this essay.

Cast

Perseus – Sam Worthington

Andromeda – Rosamund Pike

Hephaestus – Bill Nighy

Ares – Edgar Ramirez

Argenor – Toby Kebbell

Poseidon – Danny Huston

Hades – Ralph Fiennes

Zeus- Liam Neeson

 

 

Credits

Warner Bros. release.

Directed by Jonathan Liebesman.

Written by Dan Mazeau and David Leslie Johnson.

Produced by Basil Iwanyk and Polly Cohen Johnsen.

Cinematography, Ben Davis.

Editing, Martin Walsh.

Original Music, Javier Navarrete.

Running time: 99 minutes.