Jonathan Liebesman scales some kind of inverse personal Everest by producing a sequel that manages to be even more incompetent.
When hearing the early whispers that Wrath of the Titans, the inevitable follow-up to 2010’s Clash of the Titans, was actually a vast improvement on its low-achieving forbear, one couldn’t help but think that it would be some divine, machine-tooled freak of nature were it any worse.
Director Jonathan Liebesman has scaled some kind of inverse personal Everest by producing a franchise entry that manages to be even more incompetent, more nauseating and more irrational than the dangerously unloved Clash. It is also about as dramatically engaging as an avant-garde theatre production as performed by a troupe of cripplingly shy kindergarten students.
Aussie meatsack Sam Worthington returns as Perseus, now sporting a resplendent Kenny Powers-style Jheri curl and living a Werther's Original ad life as a humble fisherman with his son, Helius (John Bell, resembling a weedy chess club captain). Humourless to a fault and clearly not trusted with a line of dialogue that contains more than four words, Perseus is summoned by his absentee pops (Liam Neeson’s Zeus) to help them conquer some miscellaneous foe in a dark netherworld lair.
When Perseus refuses, reasoning that his Kraken-slaying years are long behind him, he unwittingly sets off a chain reaction of some kind of vaguely-implied scorched Earth shitstorm, and is forced to venture into the hellish cavern with a band of hearty brethren.
Much like one of the Transformers movies, the cigarette-paper thin plot is in place merely to tee up a succession of grandiose fight scenes which are all filmed and edited in a way that ensures you can’t see what the hell is actually happening. They display barely any continuity and the experience of watching them is akin to having someone repeatedly sneeze in your face.
One wonders if this now oft-employed style – which essentially cloaks the violence in semi-abstract, filmmaking razzmatazz – is now the norm for big budget action movies that need to secure a 12A rating? Maybe it would be financially pointless to release a film whose onscreen violence reached the levels suggested by the story, but it’s sad that commercial considerations should blunt potential artistry in such a brazen manner.
Other 'characters' include: Rosamund Pike’s Andromeda, who probably has less to do in this film than Cate Blanchett had to do in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood; Toby Kebbell, energetically fighting against a tide of shit to give his toothy prank-monkey, Agenor, some depth; Bill Nighy as eccentric sage, Hephaestus, who has clearly been advised to cross-process Gollum, Yoda and Albert Steptoe and THEN natter in a broad Manchurian accent; and Édgar Ramírez as Ares, the second-tier baddie who also happens to be a championship dullard (a perfect foil for Worthington, then).
This is a film where things just happen, where the special effects work dictates the characters' journey and sticky situations summarily work themselves out. The film’s nadir involves Worthington, Pike and Kebbell running around in a Rubik's Cube-like labyrinth which they have been advised by its architect is impossible to penetrate. So, after 10 minutes of shouting and tumbling and you praying that all three get turned into blancmange by the shifting walls, they eventually make it through. For no reason.
Connoisseurs of exhaustive CG vistas may glean some pleasure from the bombastic scene transitions, but then the film does come across as one big, long effects reel that has been arbitrarily spliced together in post. "There are no more gods," intones Ralph Fiennes' Hades in the bloody aftermath of the final showdown.
The climactic shot, in which Perseus bestows his sword to his beloved son, suggests Fiennes’ welcome promise of closure can and probably will be overturned once the tech boys have got some more slobbering beasties for Worthington to destroy.
Early word suggested an improvement on the unloved Clash of the Titans.
Come back Clash! All is forgiven!
So little plot and character that you’d be hard pressed to call this a 'film' in the strictest definition of the term.