Sunday, April 1, 2012

"Wrath of the Titans" is a masterpiece!!

That's the best I could do as far as April Fool's jokes are concerned. 

Now, onto the actual review. The last thing most of us really cared about was a sequel to 2010's Clash of the Titans remake, but that sure as hell didn't stop the studios. The '10 film was a surprisingly unenjoyable action-adventure fantasy, made worse by some stiff looking 3D VFX work. So it comes as quite a surprise that the completely unnecessary sequel is actually better than its predecessor and has some enjoyable parts to it, even if they don't necessarily justify a trip to the theater (wait for the DVD).

Picking up a decade after Clash, Perseus (Sam Worthington, whose acting seems to have plateaued at an unfortunate level) now lives with a young son in a seaside village. Unfortunately, trouble is brewing again. The gods are losing their power as fewer people pray to them, thereby weakening the bonds that have kept the titans imprisoned in Tartarus. When Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Ares (Edgar Ramirez) betray Zeus (Liam Neeson) and Poseidon (Danny Huston), they set the world on a path towards destruction that only Perseus can stop.

Let's get a few things out of the way. The writing isn't deep at all, characters go through roughly no development, and most of the story feels quite minor before the massive finale. That said, there's something oddly enjoyable about Wrath. It's obviously not good, but it's no train wreck, and even though some of the action is only adequately handled, some of it is quite fun. A lot of this has to do with the technical aspects, which are aces across the board. The visual effects team and props department deserve quite a bit of praise for all of the detail they've put into everything. Watching Cronos, seen here as a semi-humanoid mound of molten lava, burst out of a mountain in rage is spectacular. Other creatures, like a set of siamese-twin demons that wreck havoc on Queen Andromeda's (Rosamund Pike) army, are equally impressive. The film also boasts some wonderful design, namely in a killer sequence where Perseus and company navigate into Tartarus via a massive, constantly-shifting stone labyrinth.

And as little development as there is, the film does contain one surprisingly nice moment involving Zeus and Hades. Considering the scene that follows, I began wondering how much more fun both Clash and Wrath would have been if it had focused entirely on this relationship. But what ultimately saves Wrath of the Titans is that, despite having all the hallmarks of bloated-yet-hollow schlock, it's not offensively dumb or trashy. It's silly, but there's a sense of fun present that makes it a decent enough viewing experience, especially when it reaches its epic climactic battle. It doesn't happen often, but there are times when sequels surpass originals, and this is one such case. Not that the bar was set high by Clash, but it's nice to know that when Hollywood makes a sequel to a bad movie, they can still redeem themselves...sort of.

Grade: C+

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