101 min., dir. by Jonathan Liebesman, with Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, and Rosamund Pike
Anger, dismay, pain: that’s just a sampling of the feelings that washed over me when I first heard of a big budget, special effects-laden remake that was being made of the Ray Harryhausen produced 1981 classic, Clash of the Titans. The 2010 remake was a disappointment on numerous levels (no matter what preconceived notions I had). Wrath of the Titans could have suffered the same fate, but turns out to be a nice little romp.
Ten years have passed since Perseus (Sam Worthington) rose to fame as the man who defeated the Kraken. His son is growing up, and Perseus is determined to shield the young boy from war, and prevent him to ever needing to wield a sword. While living the life of simple fisherman, things are not perfect, but Perseus is content. Fate, however, will not make things so easy: Perseus’s father, Zeus (Liam Neeson), visits his demigod son to warm him: people’s beliefs in the gods are fading, making them mortal, and causing long dead forces to rise again. Zeus intends to meet with his brothers and the remaining gods to solve this problem, but Perseus declines to take part. When things don’t turn out the way Zeus had planned, the world is threatened by the rebirth of Kronos, father of the current gods. So back into the fray Perseus must go. Joined by Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike), demigod Agenor (son of Poseidon, played by Toby Kebbell), and fallen god Hephaestus (Bill Nighy), Perseus sets out to be the man — or god — he was born to be.
Only 19 minutes shorter than Clash of the Titans, Wrath of the Titans moves at a fantastically quicker pace. I still can’t sit through Clash of the Titans without feeling impatient. Wasting no time, Wrath of the Titans jumps directly into the plot and doesn’t use the brakes. It feels long enough that you don’t feel cheated, but cuts out the fat at all the right points. On top of this, the creatures look good. We’ve come to a point where digital effect and unthinkable creatures look real enough in small budget projects — yet, many of the creatures in Clash of the Titans looked incredibly fake (I’m looking at you, Medusa). Wrath’s creatures don’t only look good, they are treated with minute details that would come into play if they did in fact exist.
Whether you’re talking about either Clash or Wrath of the Titans, you expect the same thing when it comes to acting. Modern film legends dial in their “cooler than thou” performances, about half the young actors perform well, and Sam Worthington’s accent comes out a little too much. Wrath of the Titans, however, has an ace up its sleeve: Bill Nighy comes in as the fallen god Hephaestus. His performance is over-the-top and cheeky, but it’s well-weighted, as you rarely see him. Generally, Nighy plays the dark, slow speaking, shadowy type, with a dry sense of humor and a crooked grin. In Wrath, however, Nighy is effervescent, bursting with maniacal energy and tongue-in-cheek antics. It’s hard to dislike Nighy, and he has created a whole new level for his career in this film.
Those who know me will be surprised with my enjoyment of Wrath of the Titans. It’s not a great movie in any sense of the word, and perhaps I’m just pleased since I walked in expecting the worst. But compared to its predecessor, Wrath of the Titans is a great popcorn film, with quick and decisive action sequences that don’t overwhelm.