Movie Review: Wrath of The TitansPosted: March 31, 2012
Warning- A few minor spoilers included.
I like a good sword and sandals adventure, and being a bit of a geek for Greek myths, quite enjoyed the remake of Clash of the Titans a few years ago. But, I must admit, I didn’t feel the need for a sequel, but I was pleasantly surprised by Wrath of the Titans.
It picks up the story of Perseus (Sam Worthington) several years after he defeated the kraken, and has returned to his life as a simple fisherman, raising his son Helius (John Bell) alone following the death of his wife, Io (which deprives the audience of the delicious Gemma Arterton). Perseus is asked by his father, Zeus (Liam Neeson) for help in stopping the titans from escaping their imprisonment in the underworld, as the gods are losing their powers as the mortals abandon them, weakening the prison. Perseus refuses, saying he can not leave his son.
Zeus goes to the underworld with his brother Poseidon (Danny Huston) and son, Ares (Edgar Ramirez) to reinforce the imprisonment and form an alliance with Hades (Ralph Fiennes), Zeus’ other brother and lord of the underworld. However, Hades and an embittered, jealous Ares have thrown their lot in with Kronos, the chief titan so that they can keep their immortality. Poseidon is mortally wounded, and Zeus captured.
After killing an escaped monster, Perseus tries to find Zeus in a temple, but instead meets Poseidon, who fills him in on what’s happened and charges him to enter the underworld and rescue Zeus, for which he needs to find Agenor (Toby Kebbell), Poseidon’s demi-god son. Perseus travels to meet Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) who he rescued in Clash…, and who Agenor is with, however, it turns out that Agenor is her prisoner, and a bit of a scoundrel.
Perseus, Andromeda, Agenor and some cannon fodder head off to find Hephaestus (Bill Nighy), a fallen god, who made the Olympians’ weapons but was then cast down. As the creator of Tartarus, prison of the titans, he can aid them in their mission.
That’s pretty much the plot.
I have to admit, I really dug this movie, its a little cheesy in places and loud and dumb, but very good fun. The effects are quite well done, and some of the monsters are pretty cool. Its pretty much a rollercoaster ride from very early on, with Perseus and co, fighting various beasties and running around mazes. The labyrinth to get into Tartarus is one of the film’s nicest touches, a massive, confusing maze where the walls and corridors move, making the surroundings change frequently to disorientating effect.
Worthington is solid as the lead, Perseus is a simple man, a reluctant hero and while Worthington isn’t the most charismatic screen presence he does have a certain likability, and brings a muscular realism to the role. Perseus is determined and honourable, and his insecurities about his demigod nature are handled well.
One of the things I like most about the character is the way he fights, a fisherman not a soldier, he fights without any finesse but with great intensity and aggression. He’s a brawler, and for me this works really well, and also makes him easier to root for than someone who knows a thousand and one ways to take an opponent out.
Also, I kind of like that Worthington keeps his own, natural Australian accent, and while it does sound a little odd, its better than the usual, forced, pseudo-English accent many actors adopt when playing this kind of role. Even if I did keep expecting him to say “Strewth!” or “Bonzer”.
The rest of the cast does quite well, Rosamund Pike replaces Alexa Davalos as Andromeda, and has a much bigger part. In the first flick I can’t remember Andromeda doing much other than looking pretty and being menaced by the kraken, here she’s become the queen of Argos, and leads her men into battle with the nasties that are breaking out from the underworld. First of all, I have to admit that I’m a bit of a fan of Pike, who I think is stunning, but I do think she does quite well in the role.
Sure, given her rather petite figure she’s not an entirely realistic warrior queen, but she looks comfortable with her bow and there’s a kind of simple determidness to the character that makes it more plausible, also, her appearing a little frailer than many of the other characters kind of makes sense as she is a human caught in battles between gods, demigods and monsters. She exudes a certain regal dignity and authority.
Ramirez’ Ares is a strong villain, as he brings the god of war a sense of real power and anger, as well as a sense that Ares has been fighting so long that he knows nothing else and is incapable of peace with others or within himself. The one problem I have though, is that for the embodiment of war and battle, he’s a bit of an em0-bitch at times.
The standout for me however, was Kebbell as Perseus’ cousin Agenor, a smart mouthed thief who’s a bit of a rascal and provides much of the film’s humour. Kebbell is quite charming as the swaggering, rascally character and Agenor’s maturing and accepting of responsibilities, while a trifle rushed makes for quite a good subplot, it could have been developed a little bit better, but it provides an echo of Perseus’ own struggle to accept his role and place as the son of a god.
Kebbell and Worthington share some good chemistry, and their bickering and Perseus’ role as a sort of “big brother” figure serves to endear both characters to the audience more.
As the two major gods Neeson and Fiennes are on fine form, both having gravitas to spare and seeming to relish their roles. The interplay between the two is well done, and I particularly like the way they show the characters slowly losing their powers. The relationship between the two is quite good, with Hades being embittered and loathing his brother, while Zeus doesn’t seem to understand why this runs so deep and begins to regret his actions as he sees what he has turned his brother into. Zeus asking for forgivness is one of the film’s most touching moments, and I like how Neeson conveys Zeus’ concern and love for his family in simple, non-showy ways.
Fiennes is brilliant as the devious Hades, who slowly starts to soften as his powers fade and he is confronted with what he is doing with his brother.
One of my favourite scenes in the movie, which comes late on is when Hades returns to aid Zeus and the two brothers walk into battle together, Neeson’s gleeful statement of “Let’s have some fun” and the two of them non chalantly walking across the battlefield taking out titans right and left, is a great moment of simple power and hints at the formerly close relationship they shared.
The film is mainly just dumb fun, and while there are a few cheesy scenes, including a rather heavy-handed ending between Perseus and his son, its all done rather well. A few of the things could have been done better- the maze playing tricks on them seemed a little rushed, and Kronos was a tad disappointing given the way his powers and the threat he presented had been bigged up quite a lot.
A few of the aspects seem a little rushed, but all in all, its quite an entertaining fantasy adventure.
I found the idea of the relationship between mortals and the gods as being symbiotic quite a nice little touch, with the gods slowly fading as the Greeks abandon them. The decaying, ruined temples reflecting the weakening gods they were built for. I’m sure its been done elsewhere (in fact its a little like the character of Snow White in the comic Fables) but I still thought it was a good way, and a nice way to explain why we don’t have Zeus and co knocking about now. Although, surely when the titans are bursting out and trashing things that’d be a clear indicator that the gods are real and people would start praying to them again.
Verdict: A step up from the original, Worthingon makes a good, solid hero and the supporting cast do quite well, in particular Neeson and Fiennes who give the Olympians a real feeling of power and majesty. A little rushed and underdeveloped in some areas, but on the whole a good popcorn movie. 6/10
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO