Wrath Of The Titans
Now one hundred percent Kraken-free.
JONATHAN LIEBESMAN, director of alien war film Battle L.A. must have had uphill battle to reorganize the mess left by his predecessor in Clash Of The Titans and make Wrath Of The Titans a success. 2010’s Greek myth sword-and-sandal film, which is a remake of the 1981 classic with the same name, was a failure if you consider how widely criticized it was, starting from lead actor Sam Worthington’s distracting Aussie accent to the chaotic and disorganized action set pieces. But it was the utter wreck of a 3D conversion that took home the prize of Biggest Disappointment Of The Year and after all this, it would take Liebesman a Herculean effort to convince anyone to give Wrath a go.
One one side, Wrath had the advantage of coming up with its own story instead of paying homages to the classic. And the story goes like this: ten years after the events in Clash, Worthington’s Perseus now lives far away from war and conflict and his father Zeus (Liam Neeson) as a fisherman, of all professions, in a small village with his son. But when Zeus begs him for help, followed by a Chimaera attack on his village, Perseus has no choice but to pick up his rusty old sword and defend his family from the imminent threat of his uncle, Hades (Ralph Fiennes). In a way, the inclusion of this dysfunctional family dynamics makes for a substantial plot that marches rapidly with no unnecessary directions on the way. Unfortunately this renders all the set pieces bland and unmemorable.
If Liebesman’s intention was to organize the fights with efficiency, he does it perhaps too efficiently. The creatures Perseus faced – the Chimera, a trio of Cyclopes, Minotaur in the labyrinth, and the demonic Makhai – are designed to give plenty of scares and they underline the gravity of Perseus’ plight. Liebesman, however, barely gives us time to enjoy the art department’s labor of love and speeds up the fights until they pass by without momentum. And at the final moment, Kronos fails to impress – the titan looks and feels like a charred giant marshmallow man (shocking, considering the other creatures’ fierceness). Perseus’ victory over the big man seems too easy.
But in other aspects, his touch is gold. Giving more screen time to the ‘god actors’, such as Neeson, Fiennes and Danny Huston, is a step in the right direction. Casting Edgar Ramirez as Ares another is another. Thanks to him, the should-be-iconic Andromeda (who is now played by Rosamund Pike and not Clash’s Alexa Davalos) is kicking more monster ass, and delivering more lines, than what Letterier allowed her to do.
After all this, it seems a genuine pity that Worthington still can’t learn how to rid himself of that pesky accent. Sure, he can do action as well as any Greek myth hero, but his Aussie accent remains as distracting as ever. Coupled with that hair (and what is up with that?), not even the massively successful 3D conversion could persuade the skeptics. We know there’s a threequel coming – we just hope by then he’ll have learned to adopt a neutral, accent-less speech and kiss Andromeda better.
There are improvements in the 3D and monster designs, but Liebesman’s pacing takes away most of the momentum and charm of the story. Though watchable and entertaining in parts, not much innovation is brought to the table.
Clash’s mascot from both the 1981 and 2010 versions, the mechanical owl named Bubo, makes another appearance in Wrath. This time, we get to see it longer than usual – Liebesman dedicates a long shot of him to the fans.
The Indonesian version of this review will appear in Total Film Indonesia Issue #30, out in April 2012.