Review: Wrath of the Titans
What You Bring Into This Lazy Epic Is What You'll Take Out
By Tom Houseman
April 4, 2012
It would be very easy to write an entire review about what Wrath of the Titans is not, and what it does not do. And while I am a firm believer in taking the easy way as often as possible, it would not be fair to Jonathon Liebesman's followup to 2010's surprise hit to focus exclusively on the mountain of flaws while ignoring the small handful of things it does pretty decently. Because to say that Wrath of the Titans is unoriginal is somewhat missing the point. This is not a film that is trying to be original, but the true flaw of the film is that it is lazy. Any opportunities for creativity and ingenuity are wasted. This is a film that does not take any chances, that does not push any boundaries, that is artistically and structurally stunted.
This is not a colorful film. It is dark and bland and cold. Compared to the explosions of colors found in Immortals, Wrath looks like ancient Greece by way of film noir. This is not an exciting film. It moves from scene to scene, filling in the plot with action scenes when needed. Almost every action scene feels like it goes on too long, which is remarkable considering the film is only 99 minutes, but perhaps the monotonous color palate highlighted the lack of variation in the pace and tone. This is not a funny film. The attempts at humor are so weak that I was barely able to contain my groans. There was only one genuinely funny line in the whole film and it was spoken during a fade out that wasted it as a potential shining moment of glory.
Sam Worthington, perhaps taking a cue from the cinematography, is dull and lifeless. You would think that having the freedom of not having to affect an accent would allow him to loosen up, but he remains an emotional void. Without the charm of Ryan Reynolds, the charisma of Chris Evans, or even the machismo of Chris Hemsworth, Worthington brings nothing to the table. And why Rosamund Pike took the only substantial female role in the film is beyond me, considering how talented she is and how wasted she is on the part attempting to do her best. Liam Neeson, Ralph Feinnes, and Danny Huston all wildly overact, but at least they give the impression that they are having fun and not taking the film any more seriously than it deserves to be taken.
But myriad criticism aside, it is worth talking about what Wrath of the Titans is. It is exactly what anybody walking into the theater expects it to be. Unless you accidentally go through the wrong door on your way to watch Hunger Games again, you know precisely what you are getting into, and you will be neither surprised nor disappointed by the result. Fans of Greek mythology might be a little disgruntled about the fact that the film handles the rich history and complexity of its source material as delicately as a trident to the genitals, and anyone who loves The Lord of the Rings will be forced to acknowledge that this is at best a third rate LOTR wannabe. But as with the Fast and Furious series, if you go in with your expectations tuned to precisely the right degree you will likely be very pleased.
Do I have to get into the quality of the visual effects? Yes, they are spectacular, visually stunning, everything we have come to expect a $150 million blockbuster to deliver. But that is just it: we no longer have to be impressed by a movie with a two-headed dragon that spews venomous fire (or is it fiery venom?). That has become par for the course, de rigeur, and sadly banal. Great action scenes need to deliver something new and exciting, not just great visuals, but innovative uses of those visuals. There are plenty of memorable images in Wrath, most notably the reveal of Cronos, the father of the Gods and the film's Sauron-esque villain. Seeing this behemoth man-shaped mass of rock and lava, I am sure everyone was thinking the same thing: “how did he make babies?”
If the only reason you want to see Wrath of the Titans is for the visual effects, then it is worth seeing on the big screen, and may even be worth throwing down the extra cash for 3-D (assuming the 3-D is not as botched as it was in Clash). But if you want to see a well-told story with interesting characters, you can skip this film and rest easy knowing you did not miss much. If you are desperate for a fantasy action film, go see John Carter instead. Or, you know what, just stick with your original instinct and go see Hunger Games for a third time. Just like with Wrath, you will enter the theater knowing exactly what to expect, and you will get nothing less than that, but also nothing more.