A while back I considered the question asking whether it was possible to have a good sequel to a bad first film? The question arose as a result of Wrath of the Titans being greenlit, a sequel to a generally agreed upon bad film, though I personally didn’t think the original was as bad as everyone said. Complications came out of the question, however, due to the fact bad movies don’t traditionally get sequels, but in this day and age with inflated ticket prices, 3-D and fanboy hype a sequel to a bad film can make a lot of money as has already been evidenced by the Twilight and Transformers franchises. Perhaps Wrath of the Titans will continue that trend, but one thing is for certain, not only is this a sequel to poorly-received first film, it is worse than the original and should make anyone that bad mouthed Clash of the Titans realize what a truly awful film really is.
When we last left the demigod Perseus (Sam Worthington), he, along with his father Zeus (Liam Neeson), banished Hades (Ralph Fiennes) to the Underworld. As a reward for his bravery, Zeus brought back to life Io (Gemma Arterton) and handed her over as if she were meat on a stick, “Here son, have a beautiful woman as your prize.” It was the single worst (and best) moment of Clash of the Titans, but that’s all forgotten now.
In traditional sequel fashion, Perseus married Io, but as we learn at the outset all that remains of that relationship is their 10-year-old son, Helius (John Bell). Yes, Arterton is not in the credits because Io is dead, leaving Perseus as a wounded figure and it would seem he has more-or-less turned his back on his father for a life as a fisherman. Following the events of the first film, it would seem the people of Earth have also turned their back on the gods. They no longer pray to the men and women in the clouds, which has weakened them and a plan to annihilate humankind is underway in the belly of Hell. And Zeus and his cohorts can do very little to stop it on their own.
Hades along with Zeus’s other son Ares (Edgar Ramirez), the God of War, are conspiring to unleash Kronos, father to Zeus, Hades and Poseidon and overall bad dude. While it seems history paints Kronos as a god like all the rest, here he’s depicted as a giant volcano-like lava monster that seems to have a weakness for destroying mountains and taaaaaaaaalllllkiiiing veeeerrrrrry slooooowlllly. Of course, when the only things you seem to be able to say are “Zeus” and “Hades” along with some other garbled, bass-driven noise it doesn’t make much sense to rush through it.
Perseus is initially unwilling to return to fight the good fight, telling his father to leave, but when monsters start falling from the sky he rushes off to find Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike), Poseidon’s son, Argenor (Toby Kebbell) and the fallen god Hephaestus (Bill Nighy) in an attempt to get to the underworld and save Zeus who has been captured by Hades, with his power being milked to bring big bad Kronos back to life.
With the plot points out of the way I can now say that while watching Wrath of the Titans I slowly began to wonder whether video games had become so good that movies were now stealing their story structure. Or if movies have regressed to the point they are now nothing more than a story of a group of people facing a continuous number of obstacles and mazes over a series of increasingly difficult levels on their way to fight the big boss at the end. Is this all movies have become? Or is the only kind of story movies loaded with CG special effects can afford?
Wrath of the Titans is a joke. For screenwriters Dan Mazeau and David Johnson, here are a few pieces of helpful advice… Don’t introduce human characters unless you plan on portraying them as humans. When you ask me to believe a small army of humans will yell, “Hold the line!” when a GIANT LAVA MONSTER is raining down fire and brimstone you have asked too much. When these same humans attempt to fight off a horde of hell-born demons with balls of fire something is wrong. Hell-born demons will probably fair quite well against fire seeing how they’re from Hell and all. And, when you have me wishing the character of Argenor was played by Russell Brand just to inject some kind of life into a lifeless feature something is really wrong. No offense to Toby Kebbell, however, who seemed to be doing his best Brand impression in the absence of the real thing.
That said, the acting, for the most part, was on par with the original, nothing too terrible to comment on, but Rosamund Pike must look at this film and absolutely cringe. Oftentimes she’s seen with her sword, swinging around to no avail or getting caught in a trap and almost being crushed before Perseus comes and is able to push the rock wall open (seriously) and save her. And then the final moments are just painful to watch for all involved and Pike’s scene just hurts to even think about.
Taking the “rock wall pushing” incident into consideration, I can’t help but wonder what exactly it means when you’re a demigod? Perseus seems to have no greater ability than any other human most of the time, but at times he’s capable of some really impressive stuff, such as having the ability to keep his pearly white intact after his head is kicked through a stone table, or the time he put the God of War in a sleeper hold. We hear Zeus say, “Your son gave you strength,” and telling Perseus to “Use his power wisely,” but after two films I’m still not clear on what that power is.
It’s also a little difficult to come to terms with the motivations of Hades and Ares. Hades has been banished to the underworld by Zeus. Ares is mad at Zeus because he thinks he’s a bad dad (there are a lot of daddy issues in this flick). Hades wants to be free and Ares wants revenge. So the two decide to release the one monster that will destroy everyone and, in return, Kronos will grant them immortality. Thing is, once Kronos destroys everything and kills everyone, Hades may be free and immortal, but he’s still going to be alone. It will just be him, Ares and Kronos kicking it with a bunch of demons. What good is that? He’s in the same predicament he was before, but with absolutely no outs this time. Something tells me Hades didn’t think this whole plan through.
If audiences end up supporting this film to any great extent beyond opening weekend we all deserve everything we get, be it demons from hell or a Clash of the Titans 3. Wrath of the Titans makes Transformers look like Masterpiece Theatre. Not even those audience members that use the weak excuse, “Well, what did you expect?” can get away with that here. This is a film that may easily go down as one of the worst of 2012 and to realize that this early in the year is quite an accomplishment.