Sunday, April 8, 2012

“Wrath of the Titans” – One for the price of two.

I didn’t write a review of Clash of the Titans back when it was in theaters, but if I had, it would have included a very important statement – the title is stupid. I know it was a remake with the same title, and yes, it was just as stupid in 1981. The reason it’s stupid is because a titan means an entity in Greek mythology, and those movies contain exactly zero titans. I’ve heard people argue that “titan” was used as an adjective for describing Zeus and Hades – and my response is they are stupid too. If you are going to make a movie about Greek mythology and use “titan” in the title, it better have at least one titan. Following in Clash’s footsteps, Wrath of the Titans isn’t titled much better. It should at least have been titled in the singular since Kronos is the only titan to be found. If you’re counting, you have now paid twenty dollars for one titan.

Wrath picks up ten years after the conclusion of Clash. Perseus (Sam Worthington) has shunned his fame to raise his son and fish. His wife, who we never meet, is dead and we wonder who she even was. In the real myth, Perseus marries Andromeda after rescuing her from the Kraken and they live their days out in Mycenae. Instead, we find Perseus having nightmares about the end of the movie (not kidding), then kneeling over a gravestone to Io. Yes, I was confused too. For a while, I thought he had married Io, but then I remembered that Io died in the previous film. At that point, I decided to stop thinking so hard because the writers didn’t think that hard either.

Anyway, Zeus (Liam Neeson) pays Perseus a visit and tells him that the gods are losing their power because humans aren’t praying to them anymore, which is causing the collapse of Tartarus, the prison holding Kronos in the underworld. Zeus asks Perseus to come with him to the underworld to meet up with Hades (Ralph Fiennes), Poseidon (Danny Huston), and Ares (Edgar Ramirez) and help fortify Tartarus. If I’m following this nonsense correctly, the gods’ power is directly proportional to the amount of human prayers, even though the gods created the humans after the gods themselves were born. Uh….riiiight. We’re also supposed to believe that in ten short years, the entire known world has decided the gods aren’t worth their prayers even after the gods nearly destroyed them in the first film for – not praying. Uh….what? And to top it off, we’re being told Perseus has untapped powers (due to being a demigod himself), even though nobody prays to Perseus. Seriously? ‘Hollywood writer’ must have the least amount of qualifications of any job on the planet, or why else would studios hire illiterates?

(When my wife read this review, she glazed over the next two paragraphs, claiming they were excessively detailed and uber-confusing. Feel free to do the same.)

After Perseus tells Zeus to leave him alone, Zeus goes to the underworld and is betrayed by Hades and Ares, who are helping Kronos in exchange for keeping their immortality. Poseidon escapes, but Zeus is captured and tied up in order to allow Kronos to drain Zeus’ power. Poseidon goes to Perseus, gives him his trident, and tells him that he must find another demigod in order to defeat the bad guys. Then, Poseidon turns to dust. Not mortal, like we were told just a few minutes earlier; he just dies. My god, I mean titan, I mean….whatever.

At this point, the film has already exploded twice with demons and rock and fire flying everywhere and we’re barely twenty minutes in. Perseus decides that he needs to go see Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) because we need the love interest in this story. Luckily, Pegasus has been hanging around for no reason and is available to fly Perseus to Andromeda. When they get there, Andromeda is a general leading her armies against…demons, maybe? We don’t really know what war is going on, but that doesn’t matter. Andromeda takes Perseus to Agenor (Toby Kebbell), a demigod of Poseidon who she just happens to have in her prison. She lets him out and they all go for a nice boat ride to find Hephaestus (Bill Nighy) because the movie needs comic relief. Hephaestus tells them that in order to defeat Kronos, they need the Spear of Triam, which is made by combining Zeus’ thunderbolt, Poseidon’s trident, and Hades’ pitchfork. Since there is no Spear of Triam in mythology, we know that the writers have closed the books at this point in the script. This is further evidenced as they credit Hephaestus as inventor of gadgets (that silly owl is in his lair) and the creator of the Labyrinth. Why they didn’t just use the actual person for this, Daedalus, is a question that will only make your head hurt.

Incredibly, the film devolves even further, including a wrestling scene between Perseus and Ares during the climactic battle at the end. Yes, I said wrestling – Ares performs a suplex on Perseus and Perseus returns the favor with a sleeper hold. Apparently, the writer’s aren’t just illiterate; they’re also 10-year old boys. Perhaps the most maddening thing is the sheer amount of inconsistency throughout the film, especially with the whole idea of the gods becoming mortal. By the end of the film, at least one will simply walk away, and at least one other will turn to dust. Plus, if you were about to be destroyed by an angry monster, wouldn’t you start praying to Zeus if you actual saw him walking up the battlefield towards your foes? Not these soldiers.

Amazingly, this film is actually better than its predecessor (admittedly, that’s not saying much). It has a decent amount of comic relief from Bill Nighy and Toby Kebbell, who seem to be having as much fun as possible with their roles and Pike as Andromeda is a huge step up from Alexa Davalos. The special effects are also good, though I was forced to endure 3-D yet again and still think it is the zip drive of the movie industry. Even the climax (wrestling scene excluded) tops that of the first film, even if it is basically a retread of the Kraken scene, substituting Kronos. Overall, the film is an entertaining (if not mythologically insulting) popcorn flick, despite the writers’ worst effort.

Rating: Ask for five dollars back, but only if you didn’t see the first one.

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