“Wrath of the Titans,” the sequel to the 2010 remake of “Clash of the Titans,” brings back most of the gods with better 3D. Sam Worthington’s Perseus, having apparently renounced the whole demigod gig, is now a single dad attempting to live the life of a simple fisherman. Obviously we can’t have that sort of thing going on for too long.
Up on Mount Olympus, Chairman of the Board Zeus, played somewhat less imperiously this time around by Liam Neeson, is getting rumblings of a hostile takeover on the horizon. He’d have done well to take action sooner. Zeus’ brother Hades (Ralph Fiennes), who got banished from Olympus and shafted with running the Underworld, has joined forces with Zeus’ son Ares, the god of war (Edgar Ramirez) to free Kronos, Zeus and Hades’ father, who got overthrown by his own sons and has been imprisoned underground ever since. Hades and Ares capture Zeus, and start siphoning his power to Kronos, which is going to eventually lead to Kronos taking over the world—bad news for everyone else.
As written here by Dan Mazeau, David Leslie Johnson and Greg Berlanti, Perseus is in the iconic mold of the western gunslinger who’s hung up his six-shooters and has to come out of retirement for the greater good. And as is typical in Greek mythology-based movies, we have to assemble a band of adventurers to help him. In this case, Perseus is helped out by Toby Kebbell as Agenor, a demigod bastard son of Poseidon (Danny Huston), and Rosamund Pike, taking over the role of Andromeda from Alexa Davalos, who played her in “Clash of the Titans.” Andromeda has matured into a warrior queen this time around, and comes with her own army. Finally, they enlist the help of Hephaestus, the blacksmith and armourer of the gods, (played by Paul Kynman in “Clash”), played with scene-stealing wit by Bill Nighy.
Once Perseus and his crew are on their way to rescue Zeus, and believe me, it takes less screen time to unspool act one than it does to read a synopsis, the script is essentially a serviceable framework to string together the continuous stream of action and special effects set pieces that follow.
Jonathan Liebesman (“Battle: Los Angeles”), taking over the directorial reins from Louis Letterier, is undaunted by the technical challenges. This is an eye-filling production, though the locations, if possible, are even bleaker and less attractive than “Clash of the Titans.” As with most big action movies these days, Liebesman does tend to err on the side of swirling the camera a little too much and cutting a little too quickly during his action sequences, but he’s by no means the worst offender.
The special effects are generally convincing. The Cyclops are no worse than the big CGI critters in most “Harry Potter” movies and most of the monsters and beasties look better than them. Kronos, a large, fiery behemoth, does look rather playstationy but the filmmakers wisely offset this by combining him with practical pyrotechnics as often as possible.
It absolutely bears noting that the 3D post-conversion is light years better than the rush job on “Clash of the Titans.” In fact, this movie doesn’t look post-converted. The 3D is as good as most movies shot in 3D. And good news, Liebesman understands the value of throwing debris at the camera in this type of movie. The immersive environmental experience is all well and good, but don’t lose sight of what audiences tend to really want in a popcorn movie.
The acting is adequate across the board, but make no mistake. This is as much a video game as a movie and Shakespeare-level depth is not to be expected. Perseus, who’s allowed more hair this time around, has mellowed a bit, and so has Neeson’s Zeus. Nighy and Ramirez tend to steal the spotlight whenever they get the chance. For better or worse, Ms. Pike’s role mainly calls for her to look good in her Xena Warrior Princess wardrobe. Mission accomplished.