Greek Nonsense

'Wrath of the Titans': Better than 'Clash,' but still kind of awful

Bad beards, an especially drab actor and a whole lot of messed-up Greek-mythology nonsense return in Wrath of the Titans, a bad film that is nonetheless a marked improvement over 2010's inexcusable Clash of the Titans.

There are enjoyable—and even exciting—stretches in this film, when the action and pyrotechnics overwhelm the fact that the film is anchored with Sam Worthington. As Perseus, the son of Zeus who aspires to be nothing but a human fisherman with awesome flip hair, Worthington registers zero on the charisma meter. Since he's onscreen more than anybody else in these Titans pics, it's hard to endorse them.

The plot this time out involves Zeus (Liam Neeson, sporting what will surely be one of this year's worst fake beard/wig combos) showing up at Perseus' fishing village and telling him that shit is about to get real: The kingdom of Hell—or whatever the hell they call it in Greek mythology—is going to swarm over the Earth and make it hard to enjoy a family picnic or bowling expedition.

Zeus wants Perseus to assist him in defeating his own messed-up dad (who is looking to vanquish the gods) and Zeus' brother Hades (Ralph Fiennes). But Perseus is all like, "Eff you, dad! You sucked as a father; you never got me the G.I. Joe I wanted; and your beard looks fake and stupid! You totally suck!"

So Zeus skulks off and winds up getting captured with his equally ridiculous-looking other brother, Poseidon (Danny Huston). Thus, the last roadblock between the kingdom of Hell—or whatever they call it—and humanity is taken out of play.

Will Perseus get on the flying-horse thing and save humanity? Will Andromeda, now played by the oh-so-beautiful Rosamund Pike, get naked, or at least strip down to something frighteningly suggestive? Will Perseus' son stop acting like a whiny bitch and join his father in a fight against the rulers of Hell, or whatever it is they call it?

Who cares, really? Worthington is such a bore that his wooden line readings nuke anything cool. He's the total antithesis of fun.

However, there is some coolness to be had. Director Jonathan Liebesman (maker of the execrable Battle Los Angeles) and his effects team have come up with some fun creations. I liked the Cyclops family (although it took me a while to figure out there was more than one). They looked strange in a good way—although the same can't be said for a lame Minotaur with whom Perseus battles. It totally lacks imagination.

There are some nice volcanic blasts, with monsters spinning out of the debris and wreaking havoc. The best effect of them all involves Cronus (or Kronos), the father of all the gods, waking up in the Underworld. He's all rock and molten lava, and while he's not a fully realized special effect and is little rough around the edges, I still dug him.

The 3-D that butchered Clash of the Titans remains some of the worst I've ever seen. This time, the 3-D is a little better. At least Liebesman shot the film knowing it was going to be in 3-D, rather than deciding on a last-minute conversion. (The 3-D here is still post-conversion, but the shot angles were done with 3-D in mind.)

As for the supporting cast, Pike is OK as Andromeda, replacing Alexa Davalos from the original. Bill Nighy, as weapons-forger Hephaestus, acts as if he thinks he's still playing Davy Jones (with lots of popping p's) in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. Faring best is Toby Kebbell as Agenor, son of Poseidon. Kebbell seems to be the only one on hand with a real sense of humor and camp. Had he played Perseus, we might've had ourselves a decent movie. (According to the Internet Movie DataBase, James Franco was considered for the role of Agenor. That would've been interesting.)

While this movie is markedly better than Clash, lots of people aren't returning for a second blast of Titans action; box-office returns are underwhelming so far. That's probably because Clash was so terrible that it soured action fans on further adventures, and I'd be surprised to see this franchise continue. If it does, it is time to replace Worthington—and somebody on the effects team needs to come up with a better Minotaur.

I enjoyed this a little more than The Hunger Games. Wrath of the Titans has some decent explosions and a couple of neat creatures, while all I really remember from The Hunger Games are Stanley Tucci's stupid teeth.

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