Beware of Judge David Johnson's wrath. You'll know it's coming when you see his nostrils flare and his upper lip tremble like a jumping bean.
I can't believe I really like this movie.
Clash of the Titans was a mediocre mélange of overwrought CGI, clunky dialogue, and missed opportunities. The follow-up is no classic, but I sure enjoyed it a whole lot more.
Facts of the Case
Zeus's son Perseus (Sam Worthington, Avatar) has kept a low profile since he saved the world from the fearsome Kraken. He and his son have been living in a fishing village, away from the squabbling of Olympus. Meanwhile, Hades (Ralph Fiennes, Skyfall) and Ares (Edgar Ramirez, Carlos), the douchebag God of War, are cooking up a plot to free Chronos, the biggest and baddest of Titans to poop lava all over the world. Called back into duty, Perseus teams up with the lovely and lethal Princess Andromeda (Rosamund Pike, The Big Year) and Poseidon's estranged son to track down a plot device…er, Magic Superweapon of the Gods to take down Chronos.
On paper, I fully acknowledge Wrath of the Titans sounds moronic. And to be completely honest, there's plenty to pick on here: the writing is thin (characters have the tendency to launch into verbal exposition like "Here's Tartarus, the prison of the underworld" as if they didn't know that already); the visual effects, particularly the rampaging Chronos, can still cause migraines; and Liam Neeson appears as interested in the goings-on as one of the extras hired to be a corpse.
I can't argue with any of that, and yet I'm convinced the math ultimately works out in Wrath of the Titans favor. For every stilted line-read, there's a decent moment between Perseus and his son. For every jumpy action sequence, there's a practical and gritty slice of hand-to-hand combat. For every CGI cluster-F, there's a nifty-looking Cyclops running around with a tree stump in his hand. Add in a brisk pace, a more charismatic performance from Sam Worthington than his typical balsa-wood portrayals, some truly gut-frying sound-work, and Wrath of Titans easily ascends from blockbuster purgatory.
What I really liked is what wasn't in this movie, namely the typical march of genre tropes I've come to expect from low-calorie summer actioners. Perseus dumps the reluctant hero schtick and is pretty much on board with the mission from the get-go. His tension with Poseidon's son is short-lived, sparing us from ham-fisted life lessons about putting differences aside and working together. Plus, Andromeda is a rare action heroine: strong, but not emasculating; vulnerable, but not a pushover. In short, our three heroes are all likable and largely devoid of tired clichés.
On the other end, Ares occupies the heavy role nicely. Ramirez is big and menacing. His rivalry with Perseus is built up nicely, paying-off with a better-than-average final confrontation that's more street fight than lightning-bolt exchange or magic blasting in the face.
Again, we're not talking about a film for the ages here, but if you're looking for a steady stream of loud, satisfying PG-13 violence, a serviceable plot with a father/son dynamic as its emotional core, and a pace that keeps things swiftly moving forward to a requisite showdown of bombastic visual effects, consider giving Wrath of the Titans a spin.
Another top-of-the-line Blu-ray from Warner Bros, beginning with a terrific 1.85:1/1080p HD transfer that renders the voluminous effects work expertly. It's a testament to both the quality of the transfer and the technology employed that the majority of the CGI is borderline believable (Highlights: Pegasus, the Cyclops, the Chimera). The better half of the technical treatment is the viciously dynamic DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, an enveloping mix that will swallow your living room and shake the wall studs with its LFE.
Nice set of extras too, headlined by the Maximum Movie Mode, Warner's in-movie experience offering us a two-pronged path: 1) Featurettes on the mythology, or 2) Insight into the making-of the film. Either way you choose, there's plenty of content to sift through. And for the impatient, this content is distilled as separated segments in the bonus menu. We also get a selection of ho-hum deleted scenes, a standard def DVD copy, and the increasingly hated Ultraviolet digital download.
Wrath of the Titans is a breezy and fun B-movie adventure, worlds better than its predecessor, and delivered with supreme HD pop.
Not Guilty. The gods approve. You are spared a smiting.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
• Maximum Movie Mode
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