Wrath of the Titans (2012)
If, for whatever reason, 2010’s Clash of the Titans left you wanting more, then Wrath of the Titans (2012) is here to satisfy your demi-god desires. The film follows Perseus (Sam Worthington), son of Zeus (Liam Neeson), on his next epic adventure that he, like the audience, isn’t all that interested in. With daddy issues galore and an abundance of CGI, Wrath of the Titans is just another half-baked cinematic take on Greek gods with British (and Australian) accents. Though, to the movie’s credit, it’s just a smidge more faithful to the actual Greek myths this time around.
The film begins with a voiceover from Zeus, explaining that after his iconic “Release the Kraken” battle, Perseus refused Zeus’s offer to become a god and live on Mount Olympus. Instead, he’s decided to grow out his hair like Danny McBride and live the life of a common fisherman while raising his son, Helius (John Bell). According to Zeus, “the time of the gods is ending”, and even when Perseus was dealing with the death of his wife (who’s revealed to be Io, killed off after Gemma Arterton decided not to reprise the role), he refused to pray to the gods for help.
One day while Perseus is hanging out with his son, Zeus shows up looking for help. According to Zeus’s plea, humans have stopped praying to the gods, thus draining them of their power, which has allowed his own father, Kronos, to become stronger. We learn that Kronos is currently being held prisoner in the underworld dungeon known as Tartarus, but Zeus knows that Kronos will soon escape, and “chaos will reign.” But at least this means that unlike the first movie (and also the original, come to think of it), this movie with “Titans” in the title actually has a Titan in it. Nevertheless, Perseus decides to sit this one out in order to stay by his son’s side.
However, he’s awoken by a nightmare where Kronos, apparently a giant lava monster, rises from a volcano and kills everyone, which finally motivates him to get involved.
Meanwhile, Zeus goes down to the underworld to meet with Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Poseidon (Danny Huston). Joining them in this film is Ares (Edgar Ramirez), Perseus’s half-brother and the god of war. Zeus wants them all to unite against Kronos, but Hades is still pretty bitter about being exiled to rule over the underworld. He calls up his demons to attack Zeus, which also unleashes monsters upon the world.
One of those monsters, a Chimera, a pretty gnarly two-headed beast with a snake-like tail and fire breath, attacks Perseus’s fishing village. Perseus digs up his old sword and shield and eliminates the beast, then heads off to the Mount of Idols to track down his father.
Once there, he instead finds a half-dead Poseidon, who explains that Zeus has been taken captive by Hades and Ares, and they’ve struck a deal with Kronos to drain Zeus of his power so that Kronos can rule again. Perseus is told to find Poseidon’s son, Agenor (Toby Kebbell), who can help him find Hephaestus (Bill Nighy), who can get them to the underworld to rescue Zeus. Poseidon passes on his trident to Perseus and then dissolves into sparkly sand.
Back at the village, Perseus is preparing to leave when suddenly his old friend, the winged horse Pegasus shows up to help out. Perseus says farewell to his son and flies off to track down Agenor, currently being held prisoner in a military camp for trying to steal the queen’s jewels. There, Perseus is reunited with Andromeda, the princess he barely spoke to in the first movie, who’s now Queen Andromeda and played by Rosamund Pike.
Soon, Andromeda is on board with Perseus’s plan, granting Agenor a royal pardon, and the three of them acquire a ship and a few soldiers and set sail to find Hephaestus. While en route, Agenor explains that Hephaestus is the mortal who forged the three weapons that the primary gods wielded: Zeus’s thunderbolt, Hades’s spear, and Poseidon’s trident. He says that these weapons can combine into the Spear of Trium, which can of course defeat Kronos.
When they arrive on Hephaestus’s island, the group wanders into a trap set by a giant Cyclopes. After a few casualties and quite a bit of CGI, an elder Cyclopes sees the trident that Perseus wields and calls off the fight. This finally leads them to Hephaestus, who after a little bit of conversation, is more than happy to take them to Tartarus where Zeus is being held captive. Also, he talks about how he designed Tartarus himself, and in fact, it’s at the center of a labyrinth.
Just as they reach the entrance, Ares appears, and Hephaestus has to sacrifice himself so that the others can make it into the labyrinth. They get separated, and soon enough, Perseus is fighting off a Minotaur, which I guess is the thing to do in a labyrinth. Once he defeats the creature, he’s reunited with Andromeda and Agenor and they continue on.
Meanwhile, Zeus makes his peace with Hades, who finally realizes aiding Kronos might not have been the best idea. Hades starts to free Zeus, but then he’s attacked by Ares. While they’re battling, Perseus and the others show up and manage to free Zeus with the trident, and then escape the underworld.
Soon, Agenor and Andromeda prepare for war against Kronos’s demons, while Perseus prays to his half-brother, Ares. Though, it’s a bit of an unusual prayer, in that he’s primarily asking Ares to come down and fight him one-on-one. Ares answers the call, and also brings along Perseus’s son to watch his father die. This proves to be a mistake, of course, as the extra emotion pushes Perseus to muster up the strength to kill his half-brother.
On the battlefield, Hades restores Zeus’s powers and they work as a team to defeat the demons. As soon as Ares is destroyed, Kronos finally emerges from a volcano. After a few minutes of mass destruction, Perseus combines the gods’ weapons to create the Spear of Trium, which he uses to disintegrate Kronos.
Once the action is over, Perseus meets with Zeus, who says the gods are done and finished, before turning into sparkly dust himself. With Hades and the other gods now mortal, a new godless era begins.
If you liked Clash of the Titans (the remake, not the cult classic from 1981), then you’ll probably be into Wrath of the Titans. The films both follow the same basic CGI-oriented action template that will make anyone who loves to watch demi-gods jumping onto the backs of large computer-generated beasts giddy. That being said, the graphics are still a bit of a disappointment. Sure, the fire is vivid, some of the beasts are pretty cool looking, and many of the effects are quite convincing. However, there are a few moments where a couple of the “fire-breathing” demons look like they’re tossing red acrylic paint at the screen. Worse yet, the almighty Kronos ends up being nothing spectacular.
Of course, if you like a bit more to your movie than scene after scene of CGI, then don’t expect much here. These movies aren’t known for their memorable dialogue or clever quips, or even for the characters being able to carry on a conversation for any length of time. Hephaestus is probably the biggest talker in the film, and he was only in it for a few minutes. Plus, the character is played by Bill Nighy, who approached it in the same way he approaches most of his characters: acting eccentric enough to make you wonder if he’s under the influence of something, or if you just need to make a call to the local looney bin. It works, but only if you’re a Bill Nighy fan.
For the rest of the cast, some of whom are renowned for their acting talent, their lines are boring and simple, to the point where they’re almost speaking like cavemen, while showing very little personality. For such well-known mythological characters, you actually don’t get a feel for any of them. Zeus could just as easily be the guy next door that mows the lawn at 6 AM on a Saturday for all we know.
But it’s probably not fair to criticize the actors, who appear to be just as bored as the audience. The writers seem to have had no interest in breathing any life into this story, and the lines that were meant to be funny just feel like bad jokes you’d hear in a bar.
So, if you’re flipping through channels on a Saturday afternoon, Wrath of the Titans may be something you want to pass up. Then again, when compared to its predecessor Clash of the Titans, the film does take it up a notch, albeit a very small notch. It’s entertaining in the sense that it moves fast, but don’t get your hopes up for anything that may leave a lasting impression. As it is, I’m forgetting the plot mere hours after watching the film.