Released in the wake of Avatar, Clash of the Titans was rapidly converted to 3D in order to capitalize on its predecessor’s runaway success. The increased revenue from the sale of 3D tickets turned what would have otherwise been a modest success into an actual hit. In the process, Hollywood learned that this was an easy way to pad box office returns for mediocre product. If you’ve ever paid extra to see 3D that ended up being unimpressive and poorly rendered, you can blame Clash of the Titans. And now, based on their “success”, we are given Wrath of the Titans.
It’s been a decade (in movie time) since demigod Perseus (Sam Worthington) defeated the Kraken. (Truly, the best thing about the last film was the line, “Release the Kraken.” I still quote it every time I pee.) Perseus is now a single father and, at the behest of his late wife, is raising his son as a simple fisherman because apparently war is bad even when it’s waged to save the world. Luckily, fate and film studios have other things in mind. When Zeus (Liam Neeson), Perseus’ father, is kidnapped by Hades (Ralph Fiennes) Perseus is forced to take action. Agenor (Toby Kebbell), the son of Poseidon, comes along for the ride and brings some much needed levity to the franchise.
Unlike Clash of the Titans, Wrath was actually filmed in 3D, not merely converted, and it shows. The image is crisper, the colors are brighter and the action scenes were clearly choreographed with 3D in mind. This outing is leaner than the original. The fat (and apparently the budget) has been trimmed. The proceedings feel smaller but, perhaps counterintuitively, the picture benefits. I was stunned to discover that this picture was only seven minutes shorter than its precursor. It felt much shorter.
Unfortunately, being a better film doesn’t necessarily make it a good film. Worthington is still one of Hollywood’s most impenetrable leading men. He’s starred in three major franchises, including the highest grossing picture of all time, and he still has yet to do anything truly memorable on screen. (The fact that you’re currently trying to think of all three and most likely failing only serves to prove my point.)
Everything about this film feels obligatory. The characters are an afterthought, the action is paint-by-numbers and the faux-Shakespearian dialogue quickly wears out its welcome. Greek mythology consists of stories that have truly stood the test time. Yet Hollywood can’t resist changing those stories for its own purposes. It is literally the definition of the word “hubris.”