DVD Release Date: June 26, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: March 30, 2012
Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of fantasy violence and action)
Genre: Action-Adventure, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Drama, Sequel
Run Time: 99 min.
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Actors: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Rosamund Pike, Edgar Ramirez, Toby Kebbell, Billy Nighy, Danny Huston, John Bell

Zeus, Hades and Poseidon—Greek gods, brothers and box-office kings from 2010’s Clash of the Titans—are back in Wrath of the Titans, a sequel that lays out a sprawling story of dueling gods, approaching doom and the possibility of power through forgiveness.

But like Clash of the Titans, Wrath knows that its audience is less interested in character drama than it is in the two-torsoed and two-headed creatures that Zeus’ son Perseus must battle. Those creatures, like the Kraken from Clash, are more memorable than any of the human or divine characters in Wrath of the Titans. The sequel is a CGI-driven, 3D spectacle, much improved over its abysmal predecessor but failing to generate enough human interest to make it worth seeing.

A prologue brings us up to speed: Perseus (Sam Worthington, Avatar), the son of Zeus who had defeated the Kraken in Clash of the Titans, had vowed to live as a human. Just as well for him, as the time of the gods is drawing to an end. No longer are humans praying to the gods. That lack is causing the gods to lose their power. If they lose enough of it, they’ll become mortal.

“A calamity is coming,” Zeus warns, and soon that calamity begins to manifest on earth, as the gods battle for control. Zeus’ son Ares teams with Zeus’ brother Hades and with Kronos, the father of Zeus, Poseidon and Hades. The titans are unleashed, and Perseus must fight off massive creatures while protecting his earthly son, Helius (John Bell, A Shine of Rainbows). He’ll eventually have to save Zeus, too.

That’s a rough outline of the story. But what about the Kraken? They’re not around for the sequel, but there’s a Cyclops, a minotaur, a chimera and a legion of two-headed warriors known as Makhai. The special effects are impressive, and the 3D—this time not a post-shoot rush job, as was the case with the worthless 3D in Clash of the Titans—impresses every now and again. Visually, Wrath of the Titans is not uninteresting.

So why does it feel wan and predictable? Director Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles) pours his energies into the battle scenes, while first-rate actors like Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and Rosamund Pike do their best to bring dignity to their dialogue. Yet we never feel the weight of what’s at stake. Sam Worthington, who has been less than impressive in films like Man on a Ledge and The Debt, might seem an easy target for those looking to assign blame for the movie’s ultimate failure, but he comes off pretty well as Perseus. The story also includes an element of finding one’s strength through forgiveness—something that distinguishes the story in Wrath of the Titans from other blockbuster-movie narratives. But it’s not enough to propel the storyline to a satisfying conclusion.

Maybe it’s because those plot developments come late, after viewers will have judged the film and found it lacking. Does that mean they will have rendered a premature verdict? Perhaps. But the film plods along for so long that it’s hard to blame the audience for failing to get wrapped up in the story. There’s nothing too objectionable in Wrath of the Titans, but there’s not much to commend either.

“We humans hope,” says Andromeda (Rosamund Pike), “and sometimes we prevail.” Those who hope to walk out of Wrath of the Titans satisfied will, at best, fight to a draw, while the Hollywood profiteers will watch the box-office tally to see whether they can claim victory for yet another underwhelming product. The best way to prevail in that fight is to exercise patience and hope a better movie will come along soon.

CAUTIONS:

  • Language/Profanity: “Go to hell”; “bastard.”
  • Alcohol/Smoking/Drugs: None.
  • Sex/Nudity: None, other than some exposed male chest wounds; kissing.
  • Violence/Crime: Characters are immolated; mythological creatures do battle with gods and men; a character is hurled against a tree, and we see blood splatter; a giant Cyclops is struck in the back of the head with a tree trunk; the gods strike each other and fight; a woman is stabbed and killed; face slapping; a pitchfork pierces a god’s back.
  • Religion/Morality: Greek gods and goddesses are central characters; the gods can become human if their power diminishes and people stop praying to them; a god says that being half-human makes you stronger as a god, not weaker; those who believe they have offended the gods feel the need to pray; a god says that when humans die, their souls go to a better place, but when gods die, they face oblivion; the gods offer and receive forgiveness from each other.
     

Questions? Comments? Contact the writer at crosswalkchristian@hotmail.com.