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Wrath of the Titans (Frank's take)

01/05/2012. Contributed by Frank Ochieng

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Greek mythology has never been more mangled than the 3-D tepid tale that is Wrath of the Titans. This overwrought and flimsy fantasy is the fragmented follow-up to 2010’s delirious dud Clash of the Titans. Anyhow, Wrath of the Titans is basically wasted energy bogged down in butchered CGI imagery, drab suspense, sleeping pill-induced performances and a dull-minded, manufactured fury that would not challenge the potency of a warm glass of milk as sipped from Apollo’s lips.

Director Jonathan Liebesman, responsible for helming the forgettable and flaccid actioner Battle Los Angeles in our impressionable movie mindset, oversees this clunky concoction posing as an epic mythological adventure. Relentlessly cheesy and wooden, wrath of the Titans is a feeble fable that may encourage the disenchanted to take an inexplicable flying leap off Mount Olympus.

Screenwriter Dan Mazeau’s dubious thumbprint is painfully obvious: unleash a boisterous but banal period piece that lacks any considerable structure, intrigue or mystical imagination. Lacklustre and aimlessly overactive, wrath of the Titans is a stillborn swords-and-sandals action-adventure that merely surges through the mindless motions. The questionable depth to this mundane material surely needs a creative injection beyond costumed cads confronting computer-generated cretins at every predictable turn.

The conflicted Perseus (Sam Worthington) is back in the fold as the half god and half human son of the mighty Zeus (Liam Neeson). Nowadays, Perseus prefers to be left alone as he quietly raises his son Helius (John Bell) somewhere in the outskirts of a cosy fishing village. Perseus has had all the grief and grumbling he can take from Daddy Dearest Zeus who is getting on his last nerve. After defeating the notorious beastly menace Kraken (if Wrath accomplishes anything redeeming it is serving up the catchphrase “release the Kraken”) Perseus is idolised by admiring citizens. Still, Perseus decides to leave behind his bickering powerful papa and find peace of mind elsewhere as a humble fisherman while raising Helius.

In the meanwhile, a puzzled and ego-starved Zeus is worried about how the local peons are no longer worshipping the gods. The fear is that if the gods are not put on a higher pedestal then the curse of mortality comes into play—a deep concern that diminishes any power and glory that Zeus and his almighty cohorts had when they were indestructible deities. The worrisome Zeus has warned Perseus that he is stepping carelessly on his privileged birthright and is seen as the family embarrassment. Regardless, the determined Perseus gives the nagging Zeus the brush off and marches to the beat of his own drum.

It is not long before Zeus’s diabolical brother Hades (Ralph Fiennes) arrives on the scene to cause more havoc. The devious Hades, in cahoots with Zeus’s other twisted son Ares (Edgar Ramirez), arranges a treacherous scheme to kidnap Zeus. The purpose: to drain Zeus’s remaining majestic powers and give notable status the hell-raisers everywhere. Comically, the discord between Zeus and Hades comes off as some unintentional Greek mythological Smothers Brothers bit (okay…with a touch of clumsy Cain and Abel angst added to the mix).

And so the question remains: should the emotionally torn Perseus commit to rescuing his imperiled father from the clutches of his misguided uncle and brother? After all, Zeus was not what you would call an ideal toga-wearing Ward Clever to Perseus’s beleaguered Beaver.

Naturally, the reluctant Perseus does the right thing and comes to Zeus’s aid. Thankfully, he is joined on his critical journey in the personalities of warrior queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) and fellow half-god acquaintance Agenor (Toby Kebbell). Together, they explore dank and dark underground terrain as well as battle crafty creatures such as the Cyclops, a Minotaur, a flying Pegasus and odd-looking warriors that threaten their mission to reach a vulnerable Zeus.

Let us not forget the minor subplot involving Zeus’s and Ares’s patriarch Kronos, a vague presence of digitized dew that figures into the chaotic cat-and-mouse game of search and rescue. All the swashbuckling action and computerized confrontations cannot hide what a pointless production this is behind the label of tedium.

Worthington seems rather indifferent and distant as the movie’s resident hulking hero. There is no sense of impish vitality that Worthington brings to the table as the fierce fisherman turned avenging adventurer. At least veteran performers Neeson and Fiennes have some inspired spunk playing sordid siblings with dysfunction standing by as their corrosive crutches.

Tired and trivial, Wrath of the Titans chews excessively on its tough-skinned surface but never takes a decent bite into the trite thrill-ride it professes to be in mangy spirit. We have had these titans “clash” and show their “wrath” but do you think we should incorporate “termination” into the next sequel’s title and see if the filmmakers behind this next needless instalment finally take a hint?

Wrath of the Titans (2012) Warner Bros.
1 hr. 39 mins.
Starring: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Gemma Arterton, Ralph Fiennes, Danny Huston, John Bell, Edgar Ramirez, Toby Kebbell, Rosamund Pike, Bill Nighy
Directed by: Jonathan Liebesman
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre: Science-Fiction Fantasy/Action-Adventure
Critic’s Rating: ** stars (out of 4 stars)

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