Towards the end of Wrath of the Titans, after a dumb, noisy, two hour barrage of effect and explosions, there comes a moment where Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Zeus (Liam Neeson) put aside their petty differences and go man to man, or, more fittingly, god power to god power, with their father, the Titan Kronos. It’s the goofy cherry of the film’s silly cake, but it’s easy to forgive a movie of such brazen idiocy.
Set some ten years after the events of Clash, Wrath of the Titans sees Perseus (Sam Worthington) embracing the life of a simple fisherman with his son, Helius (John Bell). It is also revealed that Gemma Arterton’s Io passed away during the interim years. However, his help is called upon again as his father Zeus is captured by Hades and Aeries (Edgar Ramirez). Their plan; use Zeus’s powers to awaken the Titan Kronos who, in exchange, has offered eternal life to Hades and Aeries for his freedom.
One thing that is immediately noticeable come this second entry is that the pace is much more frenetic. Directed by Jonathan Liebesman, who brought us last year’s turgid Battle Los Angeles, the film starts as it means to go on, thrusting a Chimera attack upon the audience a mere five minutes in. Yet what becomes apparent is that Liebesman has learned enough from the headache inducing gunfights in Battle Los Angeles to make the action sequences swing as opposed to being a mere barrage of loud noises (which are, for better or worse, still present and accounted for).
He also appears to have figured that the best action/adventure movies work with the simplest of premises. Whilst Clash can hardly be credited with being the most thought provoking movie, it completely forgot that audiences wish to see epic spectacle akin to the source material, not extended scenes of characters they seldom care for spewing forth philosophy and mythology. Wrath retains these discussions but, most crucially, delivers them during the many skirmishes with the numerous beasties our heroes fall upon. Any downtime is literally spent catching ones breath before the next set-piece.
Yet this crowd-pleasing economy with the narrative leads to problems that no amount of flashy visuals can hide. At no point are any of the characters fleshed out in anyway, sticking to the most basic of archetypes, a shame really as even the smallest hint of back-story would be welcome. Instead the leads are painfully stock: Perseus is the grizzled, tortured hero, Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) is the obligatory love interest despite her hard-as-nails exterior, Hades remains banished evil who retains elements of good, Zeus is the arrogant almighty who is scuppered by his own ego and Aeries carries so much angst that he may as well be the bratty hormonal teenager.
The lack of any characterisation results in reduced tension come the climax (your really don’t care if anyone lives or dies) yet, ultimately, the film delivers in its most basic of elements. It’s loud, brash and abrasive, yet it has no pretence of being fine art. Where Clash was serious, Wrath is silly and knows it.
It may be a guilty pleasure but a pleasure it is. Leave your brain at the door for best results.