Wrath of the Titans (2012) - Can't Stop the Movies
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Wrath of the Titans (2012)

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Do you like watching explosions and shaky cam while people namedrop Greek gods? Then have I got a film for you! Not content with their 2010 remake of Clash of the Titans, Legendary Films brings us an original sequel so you can see the continuing adventures with all your favorite character from the last one, like that guy from Avatar and Qui-Gon Jinn.

When last we saw our hero, Perseus (Sam Worthington), he was...shit, I forget. Luckily, I think this film forgot, too, so it starts off with a brief monologue about how Perseus is the half-god son of Zeus, but he's sworn off godhood in favor of living as a fisherman and raising his son to be a lover not a fighter. We also learn that at some point between the two films people stopped believing in the gods. I guess nothing suitably “mythic” or “godlike” has happened in the past 10 years or so to make the people believe. Nothing like, oh, I don't know, a giant fucking kraken destroying the city of Athens. Also, Perseus' wife interest apparently died between films, but since I'm looking at IMDB and can't remember if it was Gemma Arterton or Alexa Davalos (or neither) I guess it doesn't really matter.

Father of the Year.

Either way, after just enough film to establish that Perseus loves the shit out of his son, Zeus (Liam Neeson) appears to Perseus and tells him that trouble's a-brewin' down in Tartarus. See when people stop believing in gods, gods lose their power, and when gods lose their power, monsters and crap start breaking out of the underworld. Worst still, the titular 'titans,' from whom Zeus and crew imprisoned and stole their god-powers from, are breaking out and they're just going to destroy everything.

But Perseus remembers how the Zeus is not only a dick of a god, but also a terrible father who only visits when he needs a favor. So of course he tells Zeus to handle it himself and leave Perseus and son to their fishing. Zeus makes some idle comments about how fathers have to look out for their sons, which if you know anything about Greek mythology, should have been interpreted as Zeus being a dick, but I think the film meant for it to be touching. Spoiler alert: Father and sons is a major theme* in this film (Note: In this case, 'theme' simply means that they talk about it a whole lot and a lot of the characters are related.)

People Looking Up in Shock: The Movie

So Zeus and his god-buddies go down to hell to see Hades (Ralph Fiennes), who has invited them there to solve the titan problem. Look, I don't care if you are Zeus and Hades is your brother: When the prince of lies invites you to his home and says he has a plan, DO NOT GO! Well, things go about like you'd expect: Hades made a deal with both Zeus' son Ares (Edgar Ramirez) and their father, the titan Chronos, so that if they sacrifice Zeus's power to Chronos, he won't eat them when he destroys reality. Yeah, not the best deal, but Hades never was the brains of the group.

Meanwhile, Perseus' village gets attacked by a flying, two-headed dog that spits fire. This makes Perseus realize that he muse once again reluctantly become a badass, and, after tucking his son away safely so that he can't possibly become a plot device later, goes off to build a rag-tag group of rebels to take down the gods. Or the titans. Someone.

Along the way he meets Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike), who become his love interest inexplicable at the end (probably because she's literally the only woman with more than three lines of dialog) and Agenor (Toby Kebbell), the irritating son of Poseidon, who acts primarily as plucky comic relief, despite not being either funny or likeable. Oh, and they also meet the insane, fallen god Hephaestus (Bill Nighy being woefully underused), who's "funny" quirk is talking to that robotic owl from the original Clash of the Titans that the film makers can't stop poking fun at because stop motion is, like, lame shit for grandpas, bro.

Our charismatic hero, folks.

The rest of the film plays out sort of like playing a video game, but only watching the cutscenes: There's some vaguely interesting things happening, and you can follow the story, but it feels like you're missing a transition of some sort. It's also about as entertaining as watching someone else play a video game. Perseus is so bland that he may as well be a stand-in for an RPG: a blank slate for the player to put their own thoughts and feelings into. His companions, the warrior queen and the comic relief bandit, are cut from the same generic RPG companion cloth. Perseus is so generic, he can hardly even be called an everyman. He's a half-god who loves his son and doesn't want to see the world get blowed-up. That's it. That's the entire scope of his character. Stick all of these folks in a Squaresoft RPG, where the characters' motivations are intentionally left vague so that the player can interject their own thoughts and feelings into the characters, and this might work. As a mythic story of heroism, though, it falls completely flat.

Another thing that bothered me (and I talked about it in my Immortals review last year) is how the writers basically rewrote Zeus as Jesus. They transform Zeus from an arrogant bastard of a god into a loving, if somewhat distant father figure who loves all his children. Not enough evidence for you? How about this then: When Hades betrays him, Zeus is chained up in a way that mimics crucifixion so that he can be sacrificed to his father, Chronos. To top it off, when Hades comes to gloat, Zeus forgives him, which makes Hades all weepy and turns him back into a good guy. Also, I'm not sure if he did it or not, but Ares at least looked like he really wanted to stab Zeus with a spear. Sorry, making Zeus an all-loving, Christ-like god just isn't interesting, let alone faithful to the mythology. For me, it's dick-Zeus or no Zeus, thanks.

Martin Scorsese's Last Temptation of Zeus

Crap, running out of room here, I should probably say something nice before I'm done. Here goes:

Some of the set design was fairly imaginative. The film had, at times, an excellent sense of scale. In particular, the prison Tartarus felt properly immense and labyrinthine. It was genuinely interesting to see it moving and shifting on a scale that boggled the mind. It's also probably the closest we'll ever come to a House of Leaves film. Unfortunately, it was capped off with a  fight between Perseus and, well it was dark, but I think it was this guy:

On a similar note, Chronos was pretty cool. I mean, I don't know why they decided that the god of time should be 500 feet tall and made of lava, but the few moments of film he was in were easily the best at creating a sense of awe and terror on a massive scale. One of the early dream sequences really captures what I always imagined an army of guys wielding pointing sticks fighting a lava god would look like, so I guess mission accomplished there. The special effects really do look nice (well, except for Motoro up there), but it's a lot of sound and fury in a tale told by an idiot. By the way, as cringe inducing as that hamfisted Shakespeare reference might be, it's orders smarter than anything in Wrath.

I figured it would be hard to make a film as bland and unnecessary as 2010's Clash of the Titans, but once again I was wrong. If you're really hankerin' for some action featuring Greek gods, go play the God of War series. Not only are they more entertaining, they're also a lot more faithful to the mythology.

Yeah, let that one soak in a minute.

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Posted by Jacob

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  1. The trailer made this look like the closest thing we’d ever get to a Shadow of the Colossus movie. Still, it looks worth a matinee or rental.

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