The irony, naturally, is that Wrath is the superior picture. Not only was it actually intended to be 3-D from the green light, but the script made more sense. With fewer titans clashing about, this follow-up is far easier to, well, follow.
Perseus (Sam Worthington, Avatar, Texas Killing Fields) has chosen not to live as a god alongside dad Zeus (Liam Neeson, The Grey, Unknown), but as a man — not to mention a single dad and widower (Gemma Arterton, your utter and complete British loveliness is much missed). Zeus drops by to plead for Perseus’ help: With people not praying as much, he and his fellow gods are losing power. If that happens, they will become mortal and die, and Kronos will escape.
Who’s Kronos, you ask? I did, too; so clumsily written was Wrath‘s predecessor that “details” like that failed to stick with me. Bottom line: He’s like a big, bad lava giant. Zeus also seeks help from his Hell-ish bro, Hades (Ralph Fiennes, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), who tricks ’n’ traps him.
That entire paragraph amounts to the film’s MacGuffin. It’s just the means to get Perseus and pals — most notably, franchise newcomer Rosamund Pike (Made in Dagenham, Barney’s Version) as an ass-kicking Queen Andromeda — on the road, moving from one effects-loaded adventure to another. That includes such encounters-cum-battles with:
• untold fire-slinging underworld minions,
• a two-headed chimera projectile-vomiting flammable venom,
• two giant cyclops in a booby-trapped forest, and
• a snot-faced minotaur in a labyrinth with a million possibilities.
Once again, the best sequence arrives around the end of the second act. In Clash, it was the scuffle with Medusa; in Wrath, it’s in said labyrinth, as its walls and floors shift violently around/above/below our confused heroes. For this and the staging of most of the movie, director Jonathan Liebesman — taking over from Louis Leterrier — is almost forgiven for the bombastic BS that was last year’s Battle: Los Angeles.
I’m still not sold on Worthington as an actor, but he has more of a presence here than last time; Harry Hamlin he ain’t, thank goodness. Pike fits in perfectly, as if she’s been aching to return to action since the doomed Doom. Among the cast, only Bill Nighy (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) is truly tiresome, but his part is mercifully brief.
I doubt Warner Bros. will proceed with another chapter of mythological mirth to round out a Titans trilogy, but if they do, I’ll be anxious to see it — and that’s something I didn’t say after seeing the first. —Rod Lott
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