WRATH OF THE TITANS Review

It's not really saying much that "Wrath of the Titans" is better than the first one. Usually, for a sequel to be made audiences have to like the first one, not just spend enough money opening weekend to warrant one. Not the case with this franchise, because despite the ads for "Clash of the Titans" back in 2010 making it look amazing and drawing enough of a crowd in to have a whopping $60 million opening weekend, the aftermath was not pretty. The movie just wasn't that good. It should have been simple, B-movie escapism but instead was a mess of a story that tried to do too much while not delivering any of the real excitement that the trailers promised. This is all in the past now as this weekend we have the sequel that no one demanded opening in a theater near you where again the trailers have made it out to look pretty awesome. No matter how low my expectations might have been for "Wrath of the Titans" I can't deny that I wasn't at least slightly intrigued by the fact they were able to get the majority of the cast back for this second one and so maybe, just maybe the script was an improvement. Turns out the whole movie is pretty much an improvement as it covers the same basic plot points of that first entry while doing things the way a sequel should be done: bigger, louder and more epic. While it isn't epic in the way a movie with these characters and their lush history deserve epic, it is at least what "Clash" should have been if it was going to fit into the cheesy action/adventure genre.

Agenor (Tony Kebbell) is the demi-god son of Poseidon.
"Wrath" picks up about ten years after "Clash" and our heroic Perseus (Sam Worthington) has lost his wife Io for unknown reasons but does now have a son named Helius (John Bell) who provides a reason for consistent theme in the movie. The screenwriters have given the more credible actors like Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes as Zues and Hades bigger roles this time around and have even managed to somehow get Bill Nighy in a few scenes that he absolutely steals as Hephaestus, the widow of Aphrodite. The beautiful Rosamund Pike replaces Alexa Davalos as princess Andromeda here and the studio also dumped director Louis Leterrier for "Battle Los Angeles" helmer Jonathan Liebesman. Liebesman at least seems to have a better handle on the story that Leterrier did. The first one simply did not add up, I was lost and confused as to the motivation of the characters and why their was so much conflict in the first place when to settle things Zues and Hades should have just sat down to have a little brother to brother talk. The same could be said for the scenario here as it involves the Gods losing control of the imprisoned Titans and their ferocious leader, Kronos, father of the long-ruling brothers Zeus, Hades and Poseidon. Hades is naturally seeking revenge again on Zues for banishing him and even persuades Zues's Godly son Ares (Edgar Ramirez) to join his side and make a deal with Kronos. I'm sure you can see where this is going as Perseus is forced to come and save the day.

The all might Zeus (Liam Neeson) is captured and
drained of his power in "Wrath of the Titans".
Good news for the audience is that his journey this time around is much more exciting and gives us a finale we feel justifies our matinee ticket price. In "Clash" Perseus destroyed the Kraken in a total of about two minutes. Here we not only get him bravely flying toward the lava-spewing Kronos on his beautiful winged Pegasus but we also get an all out, knock-down brawl between Perseus and Ares who turns out has some serious daddy issues. Then, to top that off Hades and Zues decide to join forces and "have some fun" the way they did when they were "young Gods" and just start ripping these Titans a new one with their powers. It is fulfilling for those who were left with an emptiness after leaving "Clash" and reminds us all how much of a badass Liam Neeson actually is (as if we needed any reminder). There are plenty of other action sequences littered throughout the film as well that will entertain, especially a creative little bit with some very CGI-looking cyclops. Oh well, they at least put some effort into the execution and other than this one slip, the special effects were overall genuinely flawless. Director Liebesman uses a good amount of handheld camera work here that puts us more inside the action while also allowing the special effects creatures to look less cinematic and more naturalistic with their surrounding world. There is also the welcome comic relief of Agenor (Toby Kebbell) another Demi-God son of Poseidon that has to help Perseus locate Hephaestus who can lead them into the underworld.

Perseus (Sam Worthington) finds a new love interest in
Princes Andromeda (Rosamund Pike).
While it may just be that my expectations for this film were ridiculously low, it was none the less a welcome surprise when I was more engaged with the movie than I was with my watch. I actually enjoyed myself where in the first one all I wanted to do was enjoy the back of my eyelids. Worthington, as a leading hero, is a solid personality that hardly cracks a smile and when he does the lines he breathes feel so horribly scripted as if every word he speaks is an action screenplay cliche. While his first two event films had enough things going on to distract us from his lack of charisma it was painfully apparent in the first "Titans" film and while earlier this year he seemed to be making strides in the ridiculous but entertaining "Man on a Ledge" he is back to his old self here as the humourless Perseus. There is no wink to the audience that he is in on the joke of his self-serious character, and in a way that kind of takes away the fun for me because as much as I like to see the tales of Greek mythology come to life; the way they have chosen to execute these stories deserve a little bit of self-awareness. Instead it is all business and that makes the audience let out a few chuckles when Worthington spews lines such as, "Oh, you gotta be kidding me," as he stares down a cyclops. No, he's not kidding you Mr. Worthington and neither are we, next time (yes, we know there will be one) how about you crack a few jokes or at least get in on the joke. Otherwise, we'll be requesting Kebbell's Agenor take over the lead role in the series.