Wrath of the Titans is an all out assault on the eye
Sam Worthington returns as the Aussie-accented Perseus- son of Zeus, in Wrath of the Titans, the follow-up to 2010’s much maligned Clash of the Titans. Now with Jonathan Liebesman at the helm, the Titans series finally includes an actual Titan as Kronos threatens to end the world if Perseus cannot stop him. With the aid of Toby Kebbell, Rosamund Pike, Bill Nighy, dodgy dialogue and another awful 3D conversion, Perseus just might stand a chance.
For the benefit of those lucky enough to have either missed Clash of the Titans or successfully wiped it from their memories, a quick rundown of where the gods and Perseus stand opens the film. As mankind has turned its back on the gods, their power has been depleted and Kronos’ escape from Tartarus becomes increasingly inevitable. A brotherly dispute between Zeus and Hades (Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes reclaiming their respective roles) makes matters even worse. Perseus’ indifference takes a backseat when a fire-breathing chimera attacks his fishing village. This is the first instance of BIGFASTBLURRYACTIONTHATISANASSAULTON
MONSTERUNTILAFTERTHEFACT. To see Wrath of the Titans, especially on 3D IMAX, is a lot like trying to read the previous sentence: incoherent, hard on the eyes and clearly could have been executed far more successfully. It’s one of the biggest problems that plague a film that should have been an enjoyable, silly mythological romp but instead falls short of this modest goal.
However, it’s a mistake to write off Wrath of the Titans entirely because it does have some admirable strengths. It’s impossible not to enjoy Neeson and Fiennes together onscreen, even when their lines border on trite. The same can be said for Kebbell whose uncouth Agenor gets a fair share of stupidity to spew yet remains oddly likable. Pike, stepping in as Andromeda, doesn’t get much to do as she is largely assigned to standing around looking beautifully dignified. Still, no one can accuse her of failing at that. Meanwhile, the hero at the centre of the chaos provides a stable lead that is perfectly reliable if unremarkable. However, it’s Nighy’s appearance as Hephaestus that provides the biggest treat. Barely recognisable behind long grey hair and beard, he chews up the scenery and spits it back out in this brief, but delightful turn.
It’s down to all things visual that really makes Wrath of the Titans such an unfortunately mixed bag. With a straightforward plot, even one hampered by clumsy exchanges, Liebesman simply needed to ensure that the execution of the set pieces delivers. The potential and possibility are all present, so when it ends up a clunky, garbled mess, the result is even more frustrating than if it had been apparent they had not a clue to begin with. How a film featuring (and relying heavily upon) mythological monsters consistently fails to present establishing shots of these terrors is a mystery and yet Wrath makes the same mistake repeatedly. While it’s fine to lend a mysterious air to events, it’s also greatly beneficial to allow the audience to see what is posing a threat prior to it being bested. The art designers have opted to make the creatures of Wrath intensely grotesque, instead of going down the road of sophisticated evil. It’s a commendable approach in presenting the beasts as hideous rather than cool, but the effect is wasted by the techniques used to depict the battles. Only one villain is lucky enough to be granted the benefit of being easily and fully viewed and when that is allowed, the results are thrilling. The kind of spectacle that is eventually delivered should have been present throughout the film, yet instead the filmmakers completely shoot themselves in the feet.
The actual CGI and set design look great when active efforts to undermine that work aren’t being made. Such efforts include the 3D conversion job. It is effective enough when the action is primarily CG based, but that does little to justify how vastly the gimmick detracts from the live action sequences which suffer terribly from constant cross-talk. Between the poorly shot action sequences, horrid 3D and questionable green screened moments, watching Wrath of the Titans becomes more a task than a pleasure.
There are some great efforts made in Wrath of the Titans but they become largely nullified by a production process that renders them difficult to enjoy. It is highly advisable to avoid Wrath in 3D, though not even standard 2D will make those poorly executed fight sequences any more enjoyable. While there is some fun to be had from Wrath of the Titans, the spectacle has largely been squandered. 5/10