Wrath of the Titans

6:00 AM PST 03/27/2012 by Todd McCarthy

Better effects can't save this unimaginative Greek-myth sequel.

If the Greeks think things are tough in their country now, then Wrath of the Titans can provide ample solace that things were once a whole lot worse. Serving up more action and better visual effects and 3D than the 2010 Clash of the Titans, along with a barely-there screenplay that merely functions to notify Perseus of which enemy or monster he should hack or skewer next, this is a relentlessly mechanical piece of work that will not and cannot take the imaginative leaps to yield even fleeting moments of awe, wonder or charm. But the elements are present to produce a sequel that should approach the Olympian box-office heights of Clash, which erupted for more than $493 million worldwide, a notable $330 million of which was generated outside the United States.

Buried deep in a particularly unfashionable part of the underworld called Tartarus is Kronos, imprisoned by his sons Zeus, Hades and Poseidon (Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and Danny Huston, all back and bearded for another nice payday). Hades has a change of heart, however, and captures Zeus and begins transferring the latter's considerable powers to Kronos. Enter Zeus' half-human son Perseus (Sam Worthington, recovered from his battle with the Kraken in Clash).

Because so many versions of Greek myths existed even in ancient times, one can't take issue with the way they're employed by screenwriters Dan Mazeau, in his debut, and David Leslie Johnson (Red Riding Hood) and co-story writer Greg Berlanti (Green Lantern), other than to note the gods here are as eager to fight as petulant kids waiting to play a video game.

After a mettle-testing battle with the marauding Chimera, Perseus sets out to rescue Zeus, along with Andromeda (Rosamund Pike, so delectably decked out in a snug leather outfit as to look like Katniss Everdeen's older sister) and Poseidon's wayward son Agenor (Toby Kebbell). They are joined by onetime god of craftsmanship Hephaestus (Bill Nighy), who, as its designer, is the only one capable of negotiating the labyrinth leading to the underworld. It gets very heavy and dark until the climax, which presents Perseus with a challenge more or less on par with what Bruce Willis faced in Armageddon.

As most of the dialogue is shouted or bellowed, it's rather beside the point to speak of the performances, other than to say Worthington looked marginally more at home on Pandora than he does in the Greece of myth.

Release date: Friday, March 30 (Warner Bros.)
Cast: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Rosamund Pike
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Rated: PG-13, 99 minutes

 
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