Pounding sand: “Wrath of the Titans”

April 2, 2012

There may be no better example of the perpetual-motion machine Hollywood has become than 2010’s Clash of the Titans remake—a movie that made almost a half-billion dollars despite being liked by absolutely no one, including its own star! When you have that kind of haul, a sequel is practically a foregone conclusion, and so we get Wrath of the Titans, a movie well aware of its predecessor’s shortcomings, and that manages to simultaneously try harder and achieve less than the first movie. I’m not saying that it made me appreciate the 2010 Clash, just that it made me wish it had managed to not be so much worse.

So, when we last left Perseus, he was refusing his demigod status in favor of living as a humble fisherman, and that’s precisely where he is when the movie begins: a humble fisherman in the most depressing village in all of Greece. I should point out here that this film ditched Louis Leterrier for Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles, aka “the alien movie that made Skyline look good by comparison”), and Liebsman has precisely one visual palette: windswept desert.

Where are the olive trees?

Well, Perseus is now father to a young kid, and lost Io (probably because Gemma Arterton had a better agent). One day Zeus shows up and explains that because people no longer worship them, the gods are losing their power. The big downside of this is that their losing control of Mount Tartarsauce, which, as you remember from Immortals, is the BDSM-themed prison where they dumped the titans. Only in this movie it looks less like an S&M dungeon and more like a underground space station. It should be cool, but it’s not. Anyway, Zeus is really worried about their dad, the monstrous Kronos, escaping and wants to Perseus to help him keep that from happening. He’s not big the details of this plan.

Perseus tells him to pound sand (there’s plenty in this movie), so Zeus decides to go to the underworld with Ares (his other son), and Poseidon to broker a deal with Hades, who, if you recall from the first movie, tried to overthrow Zeus and take Mount Olympus. So, you can see where this going, right? Hades and Ares teamed up to free Kronos and lured Zeus in to trap him and drain his power.

Apparently, Zeus can be drained like a lithium-ion battery...

Well, once Perseus learns about this from a dying Poseidon he’s moved to action. He teams up with Andromeda (who, sometime between films, turned from a wan princess played by Alexa Davelos into Xena, Warrior Princess played by Rosamund Pike), and Poseidon’s screw-up son, Agenor to rescue Zeus and defeat Kronos.

To do this they first must find Hephaestus, an exiled god who built Mount Tartarsauce and all of the gods’ weapons. He’s like Mount Olympus’s Q. He’s also crazier than a spider monkey on PCP and provides the only freshness there is in this film.  

The gods have come down a bit since these days...

Now, on paper this seems like a pretty good setup to a movie—you know, if you overlook the various inconsistencies and plot holes. But in execution…holy crap, is this movie a slog. It’s gotta be the least fun movie about heroes from Greek mythology fighting monsters since, well, Immortals. It doesn’t help that the script seems to be composed of trailer-ready pronouncements rather than actual dialogue. Consequently, nothing anyone says makes much sense. When Perseus tells Zeus he can’t go on this mission, because he won’t leave his son, Zeus responds with the line in the ads about how being half human makes him stronger than a god. Okay, but what the hell does that have to do with Perseus’s kid? On top of that you have…

* Okay, this is the most boring underworld ever. It’s just a stone labyrinth that shifts and change shape like the hell from Hellraiser 2 except nothing interesting happens in it.

* Oh wait, Perseus gets jumped by a minotaur and snaps his neck after a thirty second fistfigtht. Really, movie? Like, the one Greek myth every kid knows is one you decide to bastardize for a listless action scene that makes no difference to the plot? Perseus himself even looks at the minotaur corpse as if to say, “Huh. Well, that was random.”

It's like a deleted scene from the movie "Zoo."

* Oh, and Perseus runs into the spirit of his kid, who’s just says, “It’s cold in here.” And walks away. Perseus tells the camera, “You’re not real.” And that’s it. No hauntings by other loved ones they lost or temptations, just that one throwaway scene. Hey, movie, don’t break a sweat on our account.

* In the one non-desert location—a forest—they run afoul of some really horribly rendered cgi cyclopses. I mean, these things are pre-Jurassic Park horrible.

* I don’t understand any of the rules of the gods in this world. They’ve supposedly got powers and immortality, but they get killed a lot. And they can’t do much god-like stuff except occasionally throw some bad guys around by using the Force. Luke Skywalker was more powerful in Return of the Jedi and he damn near got pwned by a mentally-retarded dinosaur.

That would be the King of the Gods and the Lord of the Underworld just having a stroll...

* So, um, who is the Kronos guy? I mean, besides being a lava-monster? Granted, he’s a big lava-monster, but um…he created the gods? How? Why? Why’d they toss him in Mount Tartarsauce? There’s some backstory here I’m missing.

* Everyone is grimy in this movie, which isn’t so surprising when you consider how much sand there is. I didn’t think Greece was a desert, but apparently it was back then.

* When we first meet her, Andromeda is commanding an army in battle against, ah, you know I’m hazy on that point. Another army? The monsters escaping from Mount Tartarsauce? Yeah, whatever, movie. It’s a small detail. Don’t worry about it.

* There’s a lot of hoodoo about the weapons of the gods and whatever. Basically, they look the same as regular weapons, but they glow a little bit where you touch them. Hey, Hollywood guy who put a fantasy movie in the hands of the least imaginative director in Hollywood? Nice job, that.

"Touch my trident...go on, it's magic...touch it..."

* Sam Worthington continues to be the most uninteresting action star to open blockbusters since…well, I’m hard-pressed to remember.

* Perseus sends his kid to school in his windswept shanty-village. I’m pretty sure public education didn’t exist back then…

* Pegasus is back, but Perseus spends most of the movie hiking places.

* Okay, so the movie’s prologue tell us that the gods imprisoned the monsters in Mount Tartarsauce, but then why were there so many monsters running around in Clash? In that movie monsters were a fact of life, like raccoons or squirrels.

* Oh yeah, remember the cool Mount Olympus we saw in Clash? Yeah, we don’t see that. As a matter of fact, there’s nothing in this movie that visually interesting. Just a bunch of caves. Man, this movie sucks.

* Perseus still has his armor from the first movie, but for some reason ditched the magic sword the gods forged for him. That seems like the kind of thing you’d want to hang onto. 

"Can't see ever needing this again. Well, I guess I'll hock it for booze money..."

* Bubo the owl makes another cameo in this one. It’s pretty funny, except that Liebesman doesn’t seem to be in on the joke.

* So, if the gods are losing their power because the Greeks no longer pray to them, what happens when the Romans appropriate them all? Do they regain their powers and just go by new names? Nothing in this movie makes sense.

So, that’s Wrath of the Titans. There will probably be a third one, though I can’t imagine it can be worse than this installment. But it probably will.


  1. As a matter of fact, many male children in ancient Greece went to school from sunrise to sunset every day.

  2. I don’t agree at all… I love Mythology, therefor I loved BOTH movies! Special effects were great I don’t like the fact that they killed off the Gods…but other than that, I loved both! By the way, they both look amazing in 3D!

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