CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT: WRATH OF THE TITANS (2012)
By Michael Arruda and L.L. Soares
(THE SCENE: The fiery cavernous dungeon of Tartarus. A group of gods sit around a huge dinner table arguing. MICHAEL ARRUDA & L.L. SOARES make their way around an enormous buffet. Both men are eagerly filling their plates.)
LS: Oh boy! Food fit for the gods!
MA: It ought to be. They’re charging us an arm and a leg for this spread! (MA nods towards corner of the room, where a pile of severed arms and legs lie under a sign that reads “All U Can Eat –One Low Price.”)
LS: Mmm! Volcanic chicken! My favorite. Extra lava sauce for me please! And look – there’s ambrosia for dessert!
MA: Ahh, the food of the gods.
(The gods’ argument suddenly grows louder.)
HADES: I’m sick of you bossing me around! You’re not my father! So stop acting like it!
ZEUS: But you’re so damned irresponsible! What do you expect me to do? I’m looking after your best interests.
HADES: There you go. Talking down to me again! (turns to POSEIDON) Aren’t you going to weigh in on this? He bosses you around, too! Who died and made our brother boss? (POSEIDON just shrugs) That’s your problem. You never take a stand! You let Zeus walk all over you. Aren’t you going to say anything?
POSEIDON: Please pass the fish sticks.
HADES: I’m sick of this family!
KRONOS: Shut up, all three of you! I’m your father, and I say—.
ZEUS: Put a sock in it, old man. You lost your credibility years ago when you tried to kill us.
KRONOS: You’re still holding that against me?
MA (shaking his head): And human families think they have problems! Let’s go sit somewhere else.
LS: Sure. I prefer dysfunction when I’m the one causing it.
(They move to another table)
MA: How about we get started on today’s movie?
LS: Good idea. You start. I’ve got to taste this volcanic chicken first.
MA: I hope you have some antacids handy.
Today we’re reviewing WRATH OF THE TITANS (2012), the sequel to CLASH OF THE TITANS (2010), which was, itself, a remake of the 1981 Ray Harryhausen movie. As sequels go, WRATH OF THE TITANS isn’t bad, but then again, CLASH OF THE TITANS wasn’t a very good movie, and so it would have been pretty sad had this movie been worse. I don’t think it is. I think it’s a little bit better than CLASH.
LS: It is?
MA: Sure. Anyway, several years have passed since the events of CLASH, and our hero Perseus (Sam Worthington) is trying to make a normal life for himself, living as a fisherman while he raises his 10 year-old son, Helius. He’s a single parent as his wife has died. What’s a demigod to do?
As much as Perseus would like to live the life of anonymity, he can’t, not when his daddy is Zeus (Liam Neeson). Zeus drops by for a visit and tells Perseus that things are not looking too good. People just aren’t praying to the gods anymore, and as a result, the gods’ powers are weakening. There are dark forces at work, and they are growing stronger. Zeus wants Perseus’ help, but Perseus isn’t interested. He just wants to raise his son.
You should have listened to your father, Perseus! Zeus is captured and held captive by Hades (Ralph Fiennes), god of the underworld, and Ares (Edgar Ramirez), the god of war, who plan to drain Zeus of his power and give it to Big Daddy Kronos. Kronos is imprisoned in stone because he once tried to kill his three sons, Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon. Ares himself is Zeus’ son, and he’s angry at his father for favoring Perseus. Nice family!
LS: It could be worse. I heard the Roman god, Saturn, ate his children!
MA: As evil begins to take over the world, and deadly creatures begin to overrun it, the humans are forced to take a stand, and Perseus once again becomes their leader, teaming with the beautiful Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) and Poseidon’s quirky son Agenor (Toby Kebbell), leading them on a quest to rescue Zeus and once again restore order to the world.
LS: I liked Queen Andromeda. It’s always cool to see a queen who isn’t afraid to lead her army into battle, especially one this hot. As for Agenor, I could have done without him. I thought he was kind of an annoying idiot. I know he’s supposed to be the comic relief here, but I found his character more irritating than humorous.
MA: Yeah, Agenor should have been funnier, or at least more likeable, I’ll agree with you there.
WRATH OF THE TITANS reminded me a little bit of the old Arnold Schwarzenegger CONAN movies. They weren’t great, but they were fun, and I enjoyed the ride.
(CONAN enters the buffet, carrying an arm and a leg.)
CONAN: Where do I put these?
MA: There’s a pile right over there. Just throw them on top.
CONAN (throws arm and leg onto pile): I love buffets! (notices gods arguing.) Any of you gods care to arm wrestle?
HADES: Shut up, chiseled chest! Go fill your face before I remove it!
(CONAN’s eyes burn red in anger, and he runs towards table and joins the heated argument.)
MA: Anyway, WRATH OF THE TITANS is not a great movie, but I can’t say that I didn’t have fun watching it.
LS: I’m glad one of us did.
MA: The main reason I liked this one better than the first one was the pacing. I remember CLASH OF THE TITANS dragging and taking quite a while to get going. No problem with that here. Director Jonathan Liebesman keeps things moving along, with one action sequence after another. Some of these sequences are impressive, others aren’t.
LS: I didn’t think many of the sequences were very exciting. And I disagree about the pacing. I didn’t think this one was any better than the first one. I mean, things happen, and creatures attack, and Perseus helps fight them off, but none of it did much for me. And the Minotaur’s snot-covered face was kinda gross.
MA: Yeah, but at least the monsters show up early in this one. They took a while to make an appearance in CLASH.
My favorite sequence involved the Cyclops. I thought the Cyclops looked cool, and the scene itself was rather exciting. Dare I say it, but the Cyclops in this movie looked better than the classic Ray Harryhausen Cyclops from THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1958).
LS: It’s how cyclopses – or is it cyclopi? – are always popular. I’m surprised we don’t see them in more movies. The three cyclopean giants we see here were okay. When the first one appears, it’s kind of cool. But as the scene went on, I was less impressed with them. And while Harryhausen’s stop-motion Cyclops from SINBAD may not look more realistic, I still prefer that one. Even better was the man-eating Cyclops from the Kirk Douglas movie, ULYSSES (1954). I remember that one leaving a big impression on me as a kid.
MA: If that movie was based on Homer’s epic poem, shouldn’t it have been called ODYSSEUS, rather than ULYSSES?
LS: I always wondered that myself. ULYSSES was the Roman name for ODYSSEUS, after all, not the Homeric name.
(A CYCLOPS rips open the roof and peers inside.)
CYCLOPS: Buffet! (Reaches down and helps himself to the pile of arms and legs. He exits.)
MA: He didn’t even say thank you.
LS: He’s a Cyclops, what do you expect? You know they don’t have any manners.
(Cyclops sticks his head back into hole in the roof and sticks his middle finger out at MA & LS, before leaving once again.)
MA: I wonder if that’s “thank you” in Cyclops language.
LS (sticks both his middle fingers up at the opening in the roof): That means you’re welcome!
MA: Actually, I thought all the creatures and monsters looked good in this one, which is another reason I liked it better than CLASH. The monsters in that one were pretty lame. Not so here. They actually look pretty scary.
LS: The Gorgon in the first movie looked okay.
MA: I also liked Kronos, Zeus’ father, when we finally see him. He looks like a volcanic fire monster once he’s unleashed at the end of the movie. But he doesn’t do a whole lot, which is one of the weaknesses of this movie. While the creatures all look very good, with the exception of the Cyclops, none of them get to do all that much.
LS: Yeah, this new TITANS movie pretty much follows the same progression as the first movie, leading up to the biggest monster at the end. In CLASH it was the Kraken, in this one it’s the giant lava monster, Kronos. Both looked cool, but neither does very much. I didn’t find WRATH OF THE TITANS to be an improvement on CLASH at all. In fact, they were both pretty mediocre.
MA: In spite of the cool-looking monsters, WRATH OF THE TITANS is hampered by a weak story and characters that aren’t very interesting. I couldn’t care less about the squabbles of the gods, and Perseus just isn’t that exciting a hero. What flaws does he have? Not very many. And his motivation is to protect his son, which is admirable, but hardly original. He’s pretty much a superficial character.
Sam Worthington doesn’t do much either to make Perseus a memorable hero. Worthington is fine in the role, but I kept asking myself, is this the same guy who wowed me in AVATAR (2009) and TERMINATOR: SALVATION (2009)? He made lasting impressions in those movies. Not so in the two TITANS films.
LS: I completely agree about that, and I think it’s a major flaw with these movies. Perseus is just not a compelling character. I like Worthington as an actor, but not in the TITANS movies. He almost seems to be sleepwalking through these movies. Perseus has like two emotions, and I just don’t believe him as some kind of mighty hero of mankind.
MA: I actually enjoyed Liam Neeson as Zeus this time around, and as much as I didn’t really care for the gods’ storyline, I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of Neeson on screen as Zeus. He lent a commanding presence here that was definitely noticeable every time he was in a scene.
Ralph Fiennes as the villain Hades, not so much. I thought Hades was a rather lame villain, which is another weakness of this movie: blah villains. Hades and Ares don’t cut it, and Kronos doesn’t show up until the end, and he doesn’t really get to cause that much trouble. It’s another case of the big bad villain being handled way too easily.
LS: I actually found the interaction between Zeus and Hades to be the most interesting storyline here. Neesom and Fiennes are the best actors in the movie, and I just liked seeing them in scenes together. Although I did think that Zeus changed Hades’ mind a little too easily at one point. And by the end they almost seemed more like lovers than brothers.
MA (laughing): Yeah, I would agree with that.
I liked Rosamund Pike a lot as Andromeda, and she was one of my favorite characters in the movie. Good-looking, yet strong, Pike made Andromeda a formidable heroine.
Toby Kebbell was fun as Agenor, the son of Poseidon and Perseus’ sidekick, but unfortunately the role seemed underwritten. He should have had sharper dialogue or something.
LS: Agenor is just a lame character. I hated him.
Oh, and I also liked Edgar Ramirez as Ares. I thought he did a good job.
MA: Dan Mazeau and David Johnson wrote the average ho-hum screenplay, which is a little bit of a surprise, since Johnson wrote the screenplay for ORPHAN (2009) and RED RIDING HOOD (2011), two movies I liked a lot. This one just plays like a sequel. The story was just there and the characters rather blah.
Director Jonathan Liebesman also directed BATTLE LOS ANGELES (2011), and the two movies share a similar style and pace. Like BATTLE, the action scenes in WRATH are slick, well done, and entertaining, but aside from that, there’s not a lot to them. There’s very little story or character development.
WRATH OF THE TITANS was also in 3D, and the 3D wasn’t bad. It looked a heck of a lot better than the 3D in CLASH OF THE TITANS, which isn’t saying much because I remember the 3D in that one being awful.
LS: It’s funny. CLASH was hindered by the fact that the 3D effects were added after the movie was completed, creating a kind of flat, muddy look to the effects. WRATH was made with 3D in mind from the start, and while this movie isn’t as muddy, it’s also not much of an improvement. And a big part of that is the story. It’s just not very good. The same thing was true about the first one. And I don’t think 3D helps make these movies any better.
MA: There’s also a good music score by Javier Navarrete.
WRATH OF THE TITANS is faster and flashier than CLASH, and as such it’s an easy film to watch, and it has some fun exciting moments featuring some cool-looking monsters, so if that’s all you’re looking for, you won’t be disappointed. If you’re looking for more, a movie with a good story and memorable characters, keep looking.
LS: I think the first one was bad. I think this one is almost just as bad. I’d say avoid them both. Is there a way to make a movie about Greek mythology that’s better? Sure there is! Check out JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (1963), with effects by the legendary Ray Harryhausen (who we mentioned before), to see it done right. I also liked Tarsem Singh’s movie from last year, IMMORTALS, a lot more than either of the TITANS movies.
MA: I for one didn’t mind the shallow fun of WRATH OF THE TITANS. It would have been nice had the film been more ambitious, but it’s not. It is what it is, a sequel.
I give it two and a half knives.
LS: I give it one and a half knives. I just didn’t care about it. Wait for it to come on cable.
(Argument at the other table grows even more heated)
LS: In fact, I would rather watch the argument over there than another TITANS movie.
MA: Well, it’s certainly more colorful.
(ZEUS and HADES are having a fist fight on top of the dining table, as the other gods cheer them on).
POSEIDON (looking at camera): Can’t we just all get along?
© Copyright 2012 by Michael Arruda and L.L. Soares
Michael Arruda gives WRATH OF THE TITANS ~ two and a half knives!
LL Soares gives WRATH OF THE TITANS~one and a half knives.