Wrath of the Titans (2012)
A decade after his heroic defeat of the monstrous Kraken, Perseus-the demigod, son of Zeus, is attempting to live a quieter life. Meanwhile, a struggle for supremacy rages between the gods and the Titans. Dangerously weakened by humanity's lack of devotion, the gods are losing control of the imprisoned Titans and their ferocious leader, Kronos. Enlisting the help of the warrior Queen Andromeda, Poseidon's demigod son Argenor and fallen god Hephaestus, Perseus bravely embarks on a treacherous quest into the underworld to overthrow the Titans and save mankind. Or so Warner Bros. Pictures say in their 2012 press release for Wrath of the Titans.
Like so many of my age group, the works of Ray Harryhausen had a profound impact upon me. Films such as Jason and the Agronauts (1963) and Clash of the Titans (1981) although having very little basis in the classical literature, inspired me to read Homer’s the Iliad and The Odyssey. The myths of the ancient world offer rich veins of material that explore the fundamental aspects of life. Like the Western, this is a genre that can be adapted to reflect a multitude of themes. Yet despite this, director Jonathan Liebesman has managed craft a turgid melodrama which beyond the superficial contains very little narrative substance.
You would have thought that the basic premise of the Gods of Olympus facing death through a lack of human devotion would make for a strong and compelling storyline. Sadly it is underdeveloped and once the basic idea is clumsily telegraphed Wrath of the Titans simply lurches from action scene to action scene. A similar fate befell its predecessor, Clash of the Titans, which excised a substantial amount of content about the Gods relationship with man, from its final edit. Once again with Wrath of the Titans we see a movie edited in favour of spectacle at the expense of story and character development. An extra ten to fifteen minutes of dialogue, interspersed through the movie would have added more weight to the proceedings. It certainly would have made us care more.
Bill Nighy as Hephaestus briefly enlivens the movie, with his one sided conversations with a broken mechanical owl. Yes, at least the production got one thing right with another reference to Bubo from the original Clash of the Titans. It is also fair to say that the depiction of the Titan Kronos, as a behemoth made from cooling molten rock, is impressive. Yet beyond the fact that we are told that he is “bad” he really is nothing more than an arbitrary plot device. It’s a shame because I remember a time when cinematic bad guys use to be such fun.
I often feel that I am writing in an echo chamber as my complaints about Wrath of the Titans are the same that I’ve made about so many other contemporary mainstream studio pictures. However, irrespective of my concerns it would seem that there’s an audience for such things as Wrath of the Titans. So if you have a hankering to watch quality actors such as Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson ham it up in front of green screens then knock yourself out. Whether films such as these sustainable, well it’s difficult to say. Wrath of the Titans made a profit at the box office but it was down by over $150 million compared to the previous movie. To date a third instalment has not yet appeared.