Film Review: Wrath of the Titans

After a lengthy hiatus over the Easter period, RhettMedia is back to posting and we start with an analysis of the recent release of epic action sequel Wrath of the Titans starring Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes. Reprising their roles as Perseus, Zeus and Hades respectively, the follow-up to 2010’s remake of the classic film Clash of the Titans addresses the fall-out of the reluctant Perseus’ awe-inspiring battle with the released Kraken amid the brotherly squabble between Zeus and Hades. The story of Wrath starts ten years on from the events from the first movie, and Perseus is still hesitant to wade in on the family feud of the gods, his priorities steadfastly set on his fishing and his young son. When he is lured into battle once more by the chaos that is stemming from humanity’s growing dissonance with the presence of the gods and after learning of the scheming Hades and Ares’ attempts to seize power from Zeus, Perseus begins a quest to the depths of Tartarus to bring stability back to his homeland.

The production of the film has been in the offing since the release of the first instalment in 2010, and without a clear blueprint to work from as the reworking of the 1981 original of Clash enabled the producers to do with the 2010 version, the writers and researchers had to delve into the wealth of mythology that Ancient Greece had established. In this sense, Wrath as a movie is much freer and less restricted in that its narrative structure and story has not already been adapted for the screen. Where Clash was an overt remake that focused on utilising the upscale in special effects to build a more epic telling of the original, Wrath seems to have the advantage of freedom over its predecessor in that the story has not already been converted to the big screen once before. Despite still having to remain loyal to the vast amount of mythology that outlines the plot of this movie, the originality for the screen means that we can be absorbed into the presence of the film without feeling quite so strongly that this is yet another rehashed Hollywood blockbuster (a phenomenon I wrote about here at RhettMedia: https://rhettmedia.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/opinion-hollywoods-adaptation-factor/).

And it’s in this context that the film is enabled a much different tact to the remake of Clash. Wrath of the Titans is an epic action movie at its core, but there are sections which show the film doesn’t take itself too seriously and that the director, writers, cast and producers are having a bit of fun with the genre. Often films of this ilk can be flavourless forays into vast amounts of CGI fetishism, and while it can’t really be said that Wrath is an exception to that rule, it does have the self-awareness to poke a bit of fun at itself at regular intervals. An exquisite appearance by Bill Nighy and a fun turn by Toby Kebbell as Agenor both help balance the severity of the interplay between the gruff Worthington’s Perseus and Neeson’s Zeus as well as the slithery evil that Ralph Fiennes channels for his portrayal of Hades.

The quest that Perseus, love interest Andromeda (played by Rosamund Pike) and Agenor partake in offers a number of interesting and action-filled scenes, the pinnacle being a sterling darkened labyrinth segment which is extremely well done and visually engaging in a way these types of movies sometimes fall short of. Obviously, nearing the end of the movie the plot devolves into the CGI spectacle that Wrath was always destined to be, with the release of the colossal Kronos representing the height of the graphic mastery that the Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures collaboration has grown to epitomise. In many senses, the final battle scene is more epic than Clash’s, and the more tangible personal battle between brothers Perseus and Ares in the temple mixed with the take-it-or-leave-it appearance by Perseus’ son enables a more human and relatable conflict that helps contrast the more fantastical fights between Perseus and the Kraken in Clash and Perseus and Kronos in this instalment.

All in all, the movie is exactly what you would expect it to be and while you remain unlikely to strain any mental muscles in the process, Wrath of the Titans is an enjoyable romp that is perhaps marginally better than 2010’s Clash by the virtue of not being a direct remake. The cast is largely fine, with Neeson, Fiennes and Nighy obviously being dependable for carrying such an epic task while Worthington despite remaining fairly stiff and wooden does seem to be growing into the role of the heroic Perseus ahead of an inevitable third instalment. Overall, the film is never going to be remembered as one of the greats and almost definitely won’t be nominated for the big prizes at awards ceremonies next year, but it plays to its strengths magnificently, and it is a testament to the state of CGI that such epic stories can be brought to life so excellently and to such a grand standard of portrayal. In this sense, it is absolutely perfect for kicking off blockbuster season, and sets the standard for such films as Avengers Assemble and Battleship to live up to upon their release this month. The competition in blockbuster season has begun.

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~ by jrhett on April 19, 2012.

2 Responses to “Film Review: Wrath of the Titans”

  1. […] Film Review: Wrath of the Titans (rhettmedia.wordpress.com) […]

  2. […] wrote in my review of another of this season’s blockbusters Wrath of the Titans (available here: https://rhettmedia.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/film-review-wrath-of-the-titans/ ), Avengers Assemble is not a film designed to reinvent the wheel of film and having carefully […]

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