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Overall Rating

Awesome: 4.35%
Worth A Look: 4.35%
Average: 26.09%
Pretty Bad: 4.35%
Total Crap60.87%

3 reviews, 5 user ratings

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Wrath of the Titans
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by Brett Gallman

"Didn't earn my complete wrath."
3 stars

Even though 2010’s “Clash of the Titans” made a lot of money worldwide, the announcement of a follow-up wasn't met with breathless anticipation; instead, there was a general feeling of “sure, why not?” Maybe the most optimistic among us held out hope that Warner Brothers would take the opportunity to improve on the flawed original. However, even they seem to have arrived at this with a similar complacency--“if it made $400 million, don’t fix it” seems to be the studio mandate here, and you can hear it in almost every frame of this similarly mediocre and equally forgettable sequel.

It’s set sometime after the events of “Clash,” and enough time has passed for Perseus to have a wife (who has died), a child, and longer hair in place of the anachronistic buzzcut he sported before. He’s content with his life as a fisherman, just like his adopted father before him; however, because his real father, Zeus (Liam Neeson), heads a most dysfunctional family of gods, Perseus is again drawn into battle when Hades (Ralph Fiennes) begins cooking up a plot to release Cronus, the legendary Titan who was locked away by his own children.

I guess this is the part where I make the disclaimer about somewhat enjoying “Clash of the Titans” despite its numerous flaws (many of which stemmed from post-production studio hackwork). Since “Wrath” is more or less a second helping of that, I find it hard to be completely damning towards it, even if it is so beholden to the formula that it repeats those very same flaws. Chief among these failings is the episodic and somewhat unengaging nature of the quest, as “Wrath” once again deteriorates into a series of challenges to acquire an object that’ll eventually be used to discard the big boss waiting at the end. So it’s a bit rote and mechanical, especially since we just saw this two years ago, but I’d also argue that these sword and sorcery movies generally play out in this staggered fashion that mixes hack and slash with hefty exposition dumps.

As such, you just hope for less exposition (especially since the dialogue here is so stilted at times) and more hack and slash, and “Wrath of the Titans” mostly obliges. WB’s “don’t fix it” policy apparently extended to recycling the familiar aesthetic of the first film, which is admittedly a boon, especially since this one also seems to be sporting the same robust budget. All of it shows up on the screen because the effects and sets are seamless, making it a rather appealing film to look at, even if it is soaked in grays and blues. And dirt. There’s been a marketing trend lately for action movie posters that practically bathe their gorgeous casts in grim and grit, and “Wrath of the Titans” is the cinematic realization of this phenomenon, as it kicks up digital dust and dirt with reckless abandon. If nothing else, it proves that we can now render explosive sand impeccably.

In the midst of all these chaotic dust-kicking are encounters with various creatures, including cyclopses and minotaurs, all of which are rendered with equal impressiveness. “Wrath” even lives up to its title by actually delivering exactly one Titan, which is one more than “Clash” featured, and he certainly seems to be full of CGI-fueled wrath. Like the Kraken before him, Cronus serves as the vaunted, climatic spectacle that’d be a cherry on top if “Wrath” were fulfilling up until that point. But somehow, despite its impressive budget and cast, it delivers spectacle that’s more dutiful than genuinely spectacular, which is perhaps exactly what you’d expect from Jonathan Liebesman, a director whose career has been defined by simply guiding projects without much of a fuss. Just as Marcus Nipsel’s “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” showed Liebesman what to do for that film’s prequel, so too does Louis Leterrier’s “Clash” provide the blueprint here.

Going in, I’d feared that Liebesman would bungle the action like he did in last year’s overly shaky and often incomprehensible “Battle: Los Angeles,” but “Wrath” manages to be mostly clean in this regards. There’s still instances where the action’s framed too tightly and chaotically, but there are some big, wide sequences that would be awe-inspiring if the whole thing didn’t just feel like an empty exercise in digital theatricality. Without a compelling plot to anchor the proceedings, it’s akin to simply being shuffled from one cut scene to the next; in between are twists, turns, and ever shifting loyalties that never seem completely earned because you can almost feel Liebesman pushing the start button to skip all of it.

This is a real shame since “Wrath” (like its predecessor) boasts a wonderful cast and source material that deserves every bit of visual imagination both productions have brought. With the likes of Worthington, Neeson, and Fiennes, it never approaches being a downright poor film, with the latter two especially interjecting some real pathos into the proceedings. “Wrath” even adds Bill Nighy and Rosamund Pike (who takes over the Andromeda role and turns her into a real ass-kicker rather than a damsel in distress) to its legion. I suppose the problem is that there’s so little warmth and humanity, a somewhat ironic gap since both of these films have been expressly concerned with the difference between humans and gods. Emotionally, "Wrath" keeps us at arm’s reach like the latter, even though there are moments of humor and passion that hint at something much more grand and sweeping than what we’re left with. Both films have presented its gods as flawed beings that no longer deserve mankind’s worship, a more than solid underpinning that would make each more fulfilling experiences if they were explored in favor of the standard underworld quests and weapon forging.

There’s a moment late in the film when Neeson’s Zeus exclaims that it’s time to “have some fun.” I genuinely enjoyed that moment, but mostly because Neeson does all the legwork. I can’t help but wonder how much more that moment would soar if it were treated as anything other than a trailer soundbite or a cue that signals that the climactic set-piece is underway. What follows is in fact fun but altogether brief, much like “Wrath of the Titans” as a whole. I can’t decide whether its brevity is its biggest strength or its biggest weakness; it certainly keeps this epic from actually feeling epic, but it also keeps it a light and frothy jaunt that’s rarely boring.

In the end, I’m left with the same feeling towards any prospective sequel: “sure, why not?” I just hope Warner Brothers doesn’t bring that sentiment again. These films aren’t completely broken, but they sure could use some fixing.

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originally posted: 03/31/12 13:11:14
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User Comments

8/05/12 TreeTiger These 'reviewers' are movie snobs! Did you expect Kieslowski? This is a great action flick. 4 stars
6/21/12 SREEKIRAN MURALIDHARAN There are generally two kinds of movies. One is that which will entertain to the best that 2 stars
4/15/12 M Sam worthington doesnt even try put on an accent???? 1 stars
4/02/12 radium56 I truly beleive the actors gave their best, but the movie is such a mess. Avoid it. 1 stars
4/01/12 Jerome SCREW PETER SOBCZINSKI!!!!!!! This movie was freakin awesome. if you dont like it. YOUR OLD 5 stars
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  30-Mar-2012 (PG-13)
  DVD: 26-Jun-2012


  DVD: 26-Jun-2012

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