‘Wrath of the Titans’ Review
"Years ago when you went to a movie house you'd see a cartoon, a B picture, newsreels and an A picture. Then you'd take your girl dancing." - something my Grandfather probably said to me when I was playing Atari.
Since double-feature programming is rare these days, not everyone knows the true meaning of what a "B picture" is. Its original connotation was similar to a 45's B-side. (Tune in next week to find out what a 45 is.) Still, we all know a B-picture when we see one – Liam Neeson with a Moses-length white beard mumbling "My son! My son!" is a pretty strong indicator.
'Wrath of the Titans,' the sequel nobody asked for to a movie nobody liked, is straightforward in its B-ingness. It's short (99 minutes, compared to 'John Carter's' 132), its video game-like structure has clearly defined goals and bossfights and, in case you forget anyone's name, everyone holds a character-specific talisman of some sort (except Rosamund Pike's Queen Andromeda, unless you count a double x chromosome). But is it any good?
Our story picks up right where 'Clash of the Titans' ended. . . probably. I'm not going to lie and say that movie made too much of an impression. But now Perseus is rockin' a curly near-mullet, giving him a Hellenic Kenny Powers look. He's living a life of misery, sleeping in a tent and wandering around the rocks with his son searching for fish. Oh, wait, sorry, he's actually living a life of joyous tranquility. Got confused. Well, it's not like the acting talents of Sam Worthington, Australia's finest exported block of concrete, is going to offer us much character insight.
As we soon discover from Liam Neeson's Zeus, who pops by without calling, the time of the Gods is fading. No one's praying anymore! (Not sure why, because just a few years ago Perseus, with the aid of the Gods, defeated the Kraken, saved the girl, flew off on a winged horse and offered up a fine advertisement for polytheistic prowess, even if the post-conversion 3D stunk.) With the Gods' powers in decline, the caged, rock-cloud of evil that is Kronos may escape and lay waste to the world, unless a reluctant warrior steps in.
Here's a good time to note that 'Wrath of the Titans' has a story credit from Greg Berlanti, who also wrote 'Green Lantern,' in which a caged, rock-cloud of evil named Krona is defeated by a reluctant warrior. I'll bet any amount of money that Berlanti puts his used paper towels on the radiator.
Worthington's Perseus will only be able to defeat Kronos with the Spear of Trium. To forge the spear he needs Zeus' thunderbolt, Poseidon's trident and Hades' pitchfork. Sprig of thyme is optional.
To collect these totems he must travel to the Underworld, battle Cyclopes, engage in banter with Toby Kebbel (something of a decaf Russell Brand) and also heal the bonds of his screwy family unit. Yeah, for those of you who half-remember Greek mythology, Kronos is indeed Zeus, Poseidon and Hades' father – and, therefore, Perseus' grandfather.
But don't think of Kronos as a kindly old man doing the jumble. He's a mountain-sized beast made of computer generated lava. Indeed, this gleefully over-the-top rendering is one of the few joys found in 'Wrath of the Titans.' Kronos, the Cyclopes, the two-headed fire-breathing winged dogs and the mostly-human Minotaur are fairly kick-ass. 'Wrath of the Titans' and its brisk pace aren't too bogged down in talking – there are otherworldly vistas a-plenty and enough action to keep you from realizing you have zero emotional investment in the story.
The action scenes are enjoyable – far more so than Jonathan Liebesman's 'Battle: Los Angeles' – so if you have a streak of the D&D in ya, you may find yourself having a good time. Despite all my sarcasm I can't deny I let out a stray "awesome" at some of the silliness on display. The final fight, when Perseus must merge the Matrix of Leadership with the All-Spark (or whatever heroes in incomprehensible battles must do), is shot so much color it takes on an abstract expressionist look. 'Wrath of the Titans' (wisely) moves so quickly that the love story doesn't come in 'til the third act coda. (I have a clear vision of a producer running onto the battlefield shouting, "Wait! We can't wrap! No one kissed!!")
I'd never recommend 'Wrath of the Titans' being the sole focus on an evening's entertainment, but if you are looking for something to watch On Demand while you are waiting for friends to show up, you could do a lot worse.