DIR: Jonathan Liebesman • WRI: Dan Mazeau, David Johnson • PRO: Basil Iwanyk, Polly Johnsen • DOP: Ben Davis • ED: Martin Walsh • DES: Charles Wood • Cast: Sam Worthington, Bill Nighy, Danny Huston, Liam Neeson
Hang on to your undergarments: Wrath of the Titans is actually kind of good.
Doubtless, those of you who suffered through Louis Letterier’s 2010 Clash of the Titans will have long considered this a mathematical impossibility. Olympian Gods know I did.
But while it retains many of the flaws which so marred Clash, most notably Sam Worthington, Wrath is armed with vastly improved action and wisely slaps on some levity.
Because, let’s be honest, this mythical mash-up aint hardly Shakespeare!
Yes, the narrative is still meandering and unfocused. True, too much of the dialogue concerns solemn exposition of what is, by any normal standards, a wholly bonkers state-of-affairs. And, frustratingly, most action sequences fall victim to this plague of choppy editing which seems to have permanently bonded with Hollywood DNA.
So in this regard, by Zeus’ great, bushy beard, Wrath is still a pile of codswallop!
But what pretty codswallop it is.
The teams responsible for creature design deserve titanic praise. From six-armed, two-headed soldiers to mountains of anthropomorphic magma, Wrath boasts a selection of gruesome beasties and pretty costumes to keep the eyeballs amused.
Though still too sombre for my liking, newcomers Tony Kebbell and Bil Nighy’s respective quips and lunacy steal them every scene they’re in. And considering Wrath is at its worst when Worthington’s Perseus isn’t having his face rammed through a stone pillar or something, this newfound humour, however sparse, softens the blow.
And while the aforementioned action editing frustrates, new direction from Jonathan Liebesman has proved that bigger is assuredly better when it comes to films about fire-breathing nasties and demi-gods with flying horses.
For a film concerned with a titanic clash, Wrath’s predecessor was shamefully skimpy on the set pieces. Liebesman’s latest makes no such missteps, as audiences are never more than three minutes from a new monster, some CG assisted stuntwork or a set-demolishing duke-out.
The fact that its finale is agreeably meaty, features a divinely destructive duel, an expansive, magma spewing pitched battle and the sight of Wolf-Puncher* and Voldemort** staggering about, trouncing foes like a couple of dishevelled wizards, speaks of Liebesman’s ability to connect the dots appropriately.
Liam Neeson’s Zeus*
Ralph Fiennes’ Hades**
Taken out of context, Wrath of the Titans is merely fine, offering some colourful sequences and tremendously hideous beasties (that Chimera is a thing of grotesque beauty) but offering nothing in the way of arresting drama, tense romance or distracting belly laughs.
Most interested in Wrath however, will be looking to wash the bitter taste of Clash from their mouths. Rest assured, this is the sorbet you crave!
As a sequel, it shines, a beacon assuring flagging audiences that directors do listen, can improve on past mistakes and even eventually deliver on at least some of the promise of a title like Wrath of the Titans.
i.e. There are Titans. There is Wrath.
Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details)
Wrath of the Titans is released on 30th March 2012