Swords, sandals and CGI
Clash of the Titans follow-up is big, empty and only mildly fun
Now, I’m not one of those folks who rants about my childhood being touched inappropriately when Hollywood remakes some nonsense from the ’80s. Mostly, because most stuff from the ’80s kinda hella sucked (and, well, I wasn’t a child of the ‘80’s). The original Clash of the Titans was no exception. Ray Harryhausen’s cool effects aside, it was still a clunky pile of nonsense aimed at middle-schoolers. I’d say the remake wasn’t much better, but what with brain cells being sort of precious, I didn’t dedicate any of my storage space to it and have no recall of the matter. I do believe that Wrath of the Titans is worse, though.
Set a decade after the events of the remake, bastard demigod Perseus (vanilla action figure Sam Worthington) has rejected the whole god trip and bides his time doing scut work in a fishing village, occasionally pausing to tousle the hair of his preteen son (played by a kid who serves as the avatar for the middle-school demographic the film is aimed at). But his old man Zeus (Liam Neeson in a community theater beard and wig) drops by and asks for a li’l help in diffusing some wannabe-Game of Thrones intrigue between … Well, it’s complicated and confusing, even though everyone stands around shouting and reiterating each others’ name, rank and back story at each other when the CGI isn’t being splashed across the screen.
It’s directed by the dude responsible for Battle Los Angeles (Jonathan Liebesman), so even the more placid moments are given an urgent score and the shaky-cam treatment. The more action-oriented scenes are a blur of spaz-inducing bursts of imagery set to pounding ambient noise. And while the mechanics of plot are more complicated than expected, the narrative drive is still nothing more than a video-game script thrown up on the big screen as Perseus works his way through levels and fights bosses.
There’s also a hot warrior queen (Rosamund Pike) who really doesn’t have anything to do except stand around throwing “Do me!” eyes at Perseus. And we’ve got some black dude on hand to provide the comic relief. Yeah, we’re working with some real iconoclastic shit here.
Granted, it’s not a total loss. It has a sly tongue-in-cheek sensibility that pulls just short of being camp, an attack by a pair of cyclops provides some goofy charm, Bill Nighy drops by to provide welcome Monty Python-style scenery chewing, and the final boss fight between Perseus and a towering inferno with legs is pretty wicked, a swirling maelstrom of slo-mo mayhem set to a pulsing score that is admittedly pretty stony—if that’s what you’re looking for. Otherwise, it just plays like some old Italian sword-n-sandal epic given more money than the material warrants.