After the success of Clash of the Titans [M] (2010), it was a no-brainer to green-light a sequel, reassembling most of the key characters for another post-apocalyptic threat in ancient Greece that’s barely thwarted by young Perseus (Sam Worthington) and whichever Gods are left after a major betrayal.
Wrath of the Titans is wholly contrived, yet Warner Bros. gave the production plenty of money to ensure the smaller cast is balanced with epic special effects. Wrath features some stunning visual creations, with the re-awakened Kronos a marvelously terrifying humanoid lava monster who’s almost indestructible once he’s re-energized from a long slumber by grandson Ares (Edgar Ramirez) and son Hades (Ralph Fiennes), using the energy from a captured Zeus (Liam Neeson).
There’s nothing new to the plot nor does the script add anything wondrous to the fantasy genre, but like Ray Harryhausen’s productions (which include the 1981 Clash of the Titans [M] from which the rebooted franchise stems) the cast is larded with young stars and aged, very serious thespians whose physicality and voice training give credence to lightweight, almost functional dialogue.
Somewhere in the editor’s delete bin lies a wealth of scene trims, dialogue extensions, small character moments, and extra bits of humour that were seemingly hacked out of the final cut, because in spite of its visual beauty, Wrath feels like a basic storyline that was developed, rewritten, and eventually trimmed down to a production with one sole focus: get to the action.
The dialogue that survives is adequate, and the surprisingly vivid cast of character actors – including Sinead Cusack (Hoffman) in a rare film role – gives slight gravitas to the whittled down scenes, but either director Jonathan Liebesman (Battle Los Angeles) or the producers felt the film was lagging, or during the editing stage a sense of mounting impatience brewed heavy, because for all of its classical ornamentation and grandly rendered action sequences, Wrath is a choppy mini-epic designed for the video game crowd who may feel like they’re being cheated.
What’s very strange is how well the action scenes with CGI are choreographed – not as fast-moving game extracts, but tightly edited, classically paced moments that reveal kinetic montage and natural flowing movements for the monsters. Even the crazy voyage to Kronos’ lair – a master puzzle city that shifts like components within an elaborate stone clock – aren’t nearly as jarring as the straight dialogue scenes, where characters start an action or state an intention, and we jump cut to the event in progress. The only character whose scenes survived this mangling is Bill Nighy, who plays metal forger and puzzle city designer Hephaestus. Nighy carries on conversations with himself, with little owl Bubo (once again making a cameo after the remake), and babbles through caverns where he’s surrounded by sand-encrusted dead tech. His scenes are expository and amusing, and the editors seemed to have left his scene steals intact – making his eventual exist the most affecting.
Missing from the characters is Perseus’ wife Io - Gemma Arterton was reportedly unavailable, so she’s dead from the sequel – but her absence allows the screenwriters (all credited 3) to follow through and bring Perseus and Andromeda (Surrogates’ Rosamund Pike) together. Also new is new hero Agenor (Toby Kebbell) as Poseidon’s own half-human love-child, and Arterton lookalike Lily James plays naïve Korrina whom we all know will betray her comrades and cause grievous loss. Ramirez does what he can with his generally jealous and annoyed character, and both Fiennes and Neeson play everything grave to ensure their generally minor characters maintain some resonance to the end.
With many of the gods transformed to dust by the final reel, it’ll be interesting to see how the next batch of writers will tackle the franchise’s inevitable installment, although for Part 3, the producers should allow for some classical drama in their classically stationed saga.
The Blu-ray’s transfer of the 2-D version is first-rate and sports a really punch 5.1 mix that will give the home theatre a potent workout. Less impressive is Javier Navarrete’s score which feels like a forced order to mimic Ramin Djawadi’s design for Clash; Navarrete has written gorgeous orchestral scores for Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth), but with Wrath one senses he was given a limited amount of creative choices.
© 2012 Mark R. Hasan