Sam Worthington has a tough decision to make in his latest film. In Wrath of the Titans, the sequel to Clash of the Titans (2010), Worthington’s character Perseus has to choose between his father and his son. Not a very fun position to be in. Perseus’s father, Zeus (Liam Neeson), comes to his son’s seaside hut with a warning that the walls of Tartarus are weakening, and that soon the Titans imprisoned within those walls will escape and be free to do as they please on Earth.
This isn’t a good thing, because when Titans, a batch of creatures that look like they were inbred in the deepest bowels of hell, are free to do as they please, stabbing and torching humans is usually near the top of their to-do list. So why wouldn’t Perseus offer to help? Well, he has a kid to watch, his son Helius (John Bell). When Titans start popping up in Perseus’s backyard, however, he decides to join the ranks of those opposed to letting the Earth be obliterated.
A small, yet formidable, group does want to see Earth’s citizens be pulled apart limb by bloody limb. This group consists of Hades (Ralph Fiennes, probably better known as Lord Voldemort), who is the gatekeeper of hell and the brother of Zeus; and Ares (Édgar Ramírez), the son of Zeus and brother of Perseus. These two gentlemen want to sap Zeus of his power to awaken Kronos, the father of Zeus and Hades. Kronos is an enormous man-shaped fire-thing that will wreak havoc to no end. Wow, that family has some issues.
It’s a lot to take in, I know, but once the framework for Wrath of the Titans is laid out, the action kicks into high gear and stays that way for the majority of the movie. The only problem is that the action is not given justice by the cameras, which shake so much during some fight scenes that you almost need to look at the floor to avoid getting dizzy. The editing doesn’t help the action any, either.
For instance, in one scene our hero Perseus fights a minotaur in a labyrinth. Cool, right? Exciting, right? Well, yes and yes, but the film editor Martin Walsh cuts to different angles what feels like every second, and meanwhile the camera moves up and down as fast as a basketball is dribbled. I could never tell what type of punches were being thrown or self-defense moves were implemented in the Minotaur skirmish, because apparently the filmmakers decided it’s better for the audience to be disoriented by the “real feel” of a camera that can’t focus.
A counterbalance to the negative vibes of the cameras and editing exists in the special effects department. I’m not a big fan of CGI in movies, but I do appreciate it when the end product comes out looking real. A lot of things in Wrath of the Titans—crumbling mountains, an erupting volcano, even a giant, furry flammable-acid spewing rodent with a snake for a tail—do look real, and it is a heady experience to watch events unfold onscreen.
Another great behind-the-scenes addition to the movie is the sound. It has been a few months since I’ve watched a movie that has sounded this good. When the countryside explodes into the sky, when Kronos splashes fire into villages, when walls shift and grind against one another, you can feel it happening. This is a movie you can go to feeling confident that no chatterboxes two rows in front of you, or worse, right behind you, will disrupt your movie-watching experience. You won’t be able to hear them over the roar of Kronos.
The actors who bask in the limelight surprisingly have some fun with this one. I was expecting everything to be taken as seriously as a painful ulcer by leading men Worthington and Neeson, but they both manage to convey humor even when the music is cuing up an ominous bass-and-gong beat. There’s even a scene-stealing performance to be found in Bill Nighy’s portrayal of a fallen God named Hephaestus. Almost unrecognizable in an unkempt Old-Testament beard (the same type of beard can be found on any actor over the age of forty in this movie), Nighy is a hoot as a quick-talking, borderline psychotic source of knowledge for Perseus and friends.
Wrath of the Titans wasn’t a groundbreaking film for me, nor did it contain much thoughtful content. This movie did, however, grab my attention through sight and sound, and for that I give it 3.5 stars out of 5, in other words, a B.
Wrath of the Titans is rated PG-13, it has a running time of 1 hour and 39 minutes, and it will be released to theaters across the United States on March 30, 2012.