Some folks behind the 2010 remake “Clash of the Titans” felt the need to apologize for the film while promoting its sequel, “Wrath of the Titans.”
No apologies were necessary then – or now.
Both films serve as time killers in between snazzy action sequences, and it’s silly to expect more from a franchise spun from a cheese-encrusted ’80s flick starring Harry Hamlin.
“Wrath,” out this week on Blu-ray and DVD, is superior mainly because we don’t know what’s coming next. With Medusa and that Kraken out of the way, the sequel settles in as a pleasant little monster fest populated by actors far too talented to take any of it seriously.
In “Wrath,” the man-god hybrid Perseus (Sam Worthington) is content to raise his pre-teen son and ignore his father, Zeus (Liam Neeson) even when his godliness tells Perseus the earth is … in … danger. Again.
Yes, gods like Zeus are in decline because humans don’t worship ’em like they once did, and that creates an opening for Kronos, the father of the Greek gods, to team up with Zeus’ basement dwelling brother, Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Zeus’s other son, Ares (Edgar Ramirez). Family reunions must be a hoot with this bunch – could be worth a tangent comedy franchise?
Perseus eventually realizes this is one fight he can’t sit out, so he gathers a small army (including Rosamund Pike) to align with Zeus and put a stop to Kronos, the sort of creature that could only exist in our digitally dependent movie age.
Worthington remains a rock as an action hero, a soldier who can believably square off against any number of CGI monsters. His face is similarly stone-like when called on to emote once every 20 or so minutes, but the film doesn’t really suffer as a result.
Director Jonathan Liebesman (“Battle: L.A.”) ditches the shaky cam, and the results are so impressive one wonders why he shook all those cameras in the first place. We watch Perseus and co. battle one-eyed giants, flying demons and other nasty creations, and the sense of proportional danger makes us forget all that pompous speechifying.
And those action set pieces are why “Wrath” exists in the first place. The comic relief moments practically arrive with a warning bell – head’s up, folks, the soggy dialogue is about to go through the wringer. And the demure love connection between Worthington and Pike is so subtle it’s like they’re playing brother and sister.
Neeson and Fiennes share some meaty screen moments together, the veterans keeping straight faces under the dual weight of their furry costumes and that ponderous exposition. Still, they’re gamers, and the movie benefits from their professionalism. The fact that no one is keeping score of all the disparate accents being used to tell this myth-ridden story gives “Wrath” a sense of, “let’s put on a show” cheeriness.
There’s nothing any actor can do to salvage the film’s finale, an orgy of digital effects that’s alternately laugh inducing and cringe-worthy. And some of the maze-like sequences in the middle act will leave even fantasy movie fans scratching their heads at the absurdity on display.
The Blu-ray extras include deleted scenes and two Maximum Movie Modes – one following the film’s creation, the other highlighting the myths behind the narrative.