I loved the original Clash of the Titans from 1981. Harry Hamlin as Perseus, Laurence Olivier as Zeus, Burgess Meredith as Ammon Perseus’s trainer…it was a cavalcade of cheesniess.
When they decided to make a remake a couple of years ago, I was highly skeptical. And rightfully so. They took a movie with Ray Harryhausen creatures and turned it into an fx laden, over complicated and overly designed action movie like everything else that is coming out these days. Whereas the original had a bit of a sense of humor, the version released in 2010 was so intent at being a sword and sandal epic for the new millennium that is lost all its spunk.
Needless to say when I started seeing posters for WRATH of the Titans, I was less than excited to see it.
Did we really need more terrible bastardization of Greek mythology? I was glad to be, somewhat, mistaken.
The story is silly, as it always is. Zeus is imprisoned in Tartarus by Hades and Ares, his brother and son respectively, in an effort to free the Titan Kronos. Kronos was the father of much of the Greek pantheon. Upon hearing that his own sons would destroy him, Kronos actually ate his own children when they were born. The youngest of his children Zeus, was hidden by his mother, and grew up to free his brothers and sister who then helped him overthrow Kronos and the other Titans. All the Titans were then imprisoned in Tartarus in Hades.
Never let it be said that Greek mythology is either bloodless or boring.
So back to the wrath…
Zeus is imprisoned and he calls upon his son Perseus the demi-god who had defeated the Kraken in Clash of the Titans to rescue him.
Sam Worthingon from Avatar and Terminator: Salvation reprises his role as Perseus and it’s a bit odd because while everyone else is essentially British, as you do when you make a film about Greek gods, Worthington is an Aussie and speaks in his own accent. It’s just odd enough to make you shake your head every so often. Perseus teams up with another demi-god, Agenor son of Posiedon. Agenor is played by Toby Kebbell from the Guy Ritchie film RocknRolla and he provides the comic relief. They are joined by Rosamund Pike taking over the role of Andromeda from Alexa Davalos. Pike’s Andromeda is a warrior princess and does a bit more than look pretty and act as Kraken-bait. Together they journey to Tartarus to save Zeus and stop Kronos.
The gods in Wrath are all respected actors, much as in the original Clash of the Titans: Liam Neeson is Zeus, Ralph Fiennes is Hades, Danny Huston is Poseidon, Bill Nighy is absolutely as Hephaestus “The Fallen One”, and Edgar Ramirez is Ares. Ok so Ramirez isn’t on the same level as the other gods, but you get the picture.
What the sequel has that the initial remake didn’t was that great sense of humor that made the progenitor of the series so much fun — a sense of humor. Not feeling the need to follow in the footsteps of another film, this time the filmmakers were clearly able to breathe. At one point someone is introduced to Perseus and they make some comment like “Oh right right. ‘Release the Kraken’ and all that.” That is correct; the movie has the balls to mock the line that helped keep the 2010 Clash in the forefront of everyone’s mind…even if for the wrong reasons.
Like many of the movies that have come out lately, the action scenes are edited as if someone put them into a blender. While the desired effect might be to make you feel as though you were in the middle of a great battle, you just get dizzy and are unable to see any of the interesting creatures in any amount of detail. That being said, the effects are much better than in the first outing. The scenes in the ever-changing labyrinth in Hades are well done and the crowing achievement was Kronos. He was fire and lava and ash; total and utter destruction. Sure that Kronos probably would have burned his children to a crisp before devouring them, but as the chained Titan, he was fascinating.
While I am OK with many of the wildly inaccurate mythological portions of the movie, the thing that got up my dander were the family issues. Yes, Greek mythology is nothing but a family of gods wreaking havoc in an effort to show each other up or exact revenge. But it was never this mopey, this sappy. Ares is mad at Zeus because Zeus favor his other son Perseus. Hades is mad at Zeus for banishing him to Tartarus to watch over their father after they defeated Kronos. Zeus and Hades have their daddy issues with Kronos and Perseus has his issues with Zeus; Zeus wants him to embrace his god-side, when all Perseus wants is to be a humble fisherman with his son and avoid any further Medusa-type situations.W It’s like one gigantic dysfunctional family event.
In the end everyone hugs and makes up, something the gods would despise. They might have battled each other but they never hugged and cried. It was a bit much. Watching Hades and Zeus bond like they were on an ABC Family drama is just silly.
Overall Wrath of the Titans was a mostly entertaining big budget action flick that you can watch, enjoy, mock, and then forget. Or not. Remember we’ll always have this…