When Clash of the Titans was released two years ago I went in with very low expectations. For some reason the film just didn't caught my attention in spite of looking a lot better than the original 1981 version.
In the end I was pleasantly surprised with the result and so fast forward to the present, I was eagerly awaiting to see Perseus new journey in Wrath of the Titans.
Ten years after the events in the first film, we find Perseus (Sam Worthington) living as a simple fisherman trying to carry a normal human life and taking care of his son Hellius alone. Meanwhile the gods have grown weak because humanity has turned their backs on them and stopped parying. With their diminished power it is only a matter of time before Kronos, the most powerful titan is released from his prison.
Zeus (Liam Neeson), Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Poseidon (Danny Huston) join forces to keep their father locked in the Underworld, but a desperate Hades betrays his brothers and with the help of Ares (Edgar Ramirez) imprisons Zeus so Kronos can be released and his life spared.
Perseus unwilling to leave his son, is reluctant to help his godly father, until a Chimera attacks the village where they both live. Knowing that if Kronos is free this will only be the beginning of the end for makind he embarks in a journey to find a way to stop the titan. He is joined by Andromeda (Rosamund Pike), who is now the ruler of Argos, the demigod son of Poseidon, Agenor (Toby Kebbell), and the fallen god Hephaestus (Bill Nighy).
A lot has changed since Perseus took a journey to kill the Kraken, and not only storywise. Taking the helm of Wrath of the Titans is director Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles) bringing with him his own style of filmmaking.
Wrath has very different feel, more serious, less adventurous and even less joyful than before. While a lot of the characters on the first film were dead serious, the action and scope gave an epic and entertaining touch that made it very enjoyable.
In spite of the title, the film has little to do with wrath, not to mention there's actually only one titan. This is a film about characters wanting to be loved, live and protect the ones they love, who in the end learn to forgive.
This time Perseus is no longer driven by rage that made him so though. He has no desire to fight again but he finally does to keep his son safe. His feelings towards his own father have changed and no longer resents him, but it is genuinely worried about him. Sam Worthington makes Perseus even more human this time and it is fitting since now he has someone to fight for instead of looking for revenge.
Zeus is also more fragile. With all the gods power leaving them, is he the one who recognizes their time is coming to an end, but in order for humans to live Kronos must not be freed. Per usual Liam Neeson gives Zeus the gravitas necessary for the ruler of the gods, and he is a lot less angrier than before.
Hades looks stronger than before on the outside, but in reality he is afraid of losing his immortality. He obviously still resents Zeus for keeping him in the Underworld, and betrays him to stay alive, but we also get to see the side of him that has a stronger bond with his brother. Because of this Ralph Fiennes is now allowed to do more than the almost one dimensional villain he played before and only hinted at his feelings towards his brother.
Ares on the other hand is arrogant and has grown jealous of Perseus, whom he thinks is the favorite son of his father Zeus and wishes to punish them both so they can know is own pain. For all the toughness the character has, I think Edgar Ramirez tried to give him a little bit of heart, and while it isn't the way I imagine Ares, I appreciate his attempt.
In both cases, it is interesting to see Hard and Ares so hungry for power, but still have that week side in them that resembles human emotions. And up to here the cast and characters did a fine job to take Wrath to a higher level.
The rest of the cast is not so lucky.
Danny Huston is once again on the sideline as Poseidon, another cameo appearance of a character that being on the same level as Zeus and Hades, it is unfairly unused.
Bill Nighy is always great to see but I think he is wasted in this film. He is allowed one "heroic" moment, but that's almost it. He seems to have a lot of fun playing this god-gone-crazy character, and so it's a pity his character comes and goes that fast.
Toby Kebell gets to be the comic relief in a film that does not allow funny moments, so he feels misplaced most of the time. He is given a chance to shine during the third act, but it's already way too late.
The lowest end of the cast unfortunately lies on Rosamund Pike. The only thing that seems to have changed to her character, besides being a queen and a warrior, it's her hair color. Her character is useless to the story and is no way near as interesting as Gemma Arterton as Io, who I truly miss here, was in the first film.
And while we have a huge army for the final battle, they area only faceless meat for carnage, whereas the warriors fighting alongside Perseus in Clash had personalities defined and moments of shine which made them very likable.
One point of improvement though are the visual effects, which are ever more impressive. The first Chimera attack does the job to sell these mythical creatures really well. The only problem are the Cyclops that at times looked photo realistic and other moments felt to CGI it was distracting. Being the main attraction Kronos was indeed the most interesting to look at.
But while Kronos looked great, his appearance in the film it's too close to that of the Kraken. We know he is coming and that he will bring doom, but when he does come, he almost doesn't do anything more than roar, move slowly and scare the hell out of people nearby, and it's quickly dispatched.
Action-wise that was the only thing that felt uneven and rushed. Wrath of the Titans has a lot of action going on and it is very well staged. It feels real withing the rules of the world, and pretty down to earth and gritty. It is one of the things I'm glad the director brought from Battle: Los Angeles.
The problem comes with the rest of the film. While the writers obviously tried to come up with a story that had all they key elements a Greek mythological tale have, I think Jonathan Liebesman was unsure on how to handle the material.
Below the surface there's this story about family, betrayal, jealousy and forgiveness that is brought up front but not in the right way and makes the movie be too ceremoniously, too serious for its own being and that was the same problem I had with Battle: Los Angeles.
While I welcome seriousness and drama into any kind of film, here just feels misplaced and while the cast, at least those in the main roles, do their best to handle those inner themes, the few attempts at comedy make the whole affair uneven. There are interesting themes here so it's a shame that the director couldn't find a better way at putting it on the screen.
Perhaps the whle thing can be summarized by the music by composer Javier Navarrete (El Laberinto del Fauno). The score it is too much of a depart from the style Ramin Djawadi had imprinted in Clash. Perhaps the composer thought the film need music that suited an epic drama, but forgot to put in some adrenaline to make the images on screen more exciting. There are hints here and there of what might have been, but it's just not enough.
In the end Wrath of the Titans is at times an improvement over Clash, with great action, a family drama with some interesting things to say and good acting from the main cast, but the supporting roles, uneven style and lack of the level of fun and excitement the first film had keep this one from being a truly memorable epic.
Moviefy Grade: Recommendable