Wrath of the Titans (Warner Brothers, PG-13)

 

film wrath-titans_75Big-budget sword and sandal films have a tendency to leave me feeling like I’ve spent two hours watching someone else play a videogame.

 

 

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It’s hard out there for a demi-god. Perseus (Sam Worthington) has spent the last 10 years living the peaceful life of a fisherman and single father to son Helius (John Bell), and that’s what he’d like to keep doing. Unfortunately for him, papa Zeus (Liam Neeson) has come calling once again with urgent business.

The gods are disappearing, with only Zeus, Hades (Ralph Fiennes), Poseidon (Danny Houston), and Ares (Edgar Ramirez) still holding on to their now tenuous immortality. When, in a last-ditch effort to save themselves, Hades and Ares kidnap Zeus, it’s up to Perseus to find him in the underworld and release humanity from the coming onslaught of Titans.

Big-budget sword and sandal films have a tendency to leave me feeling like I’ve spent two hours watching someone else play a video game. It all looks cool, and my friend sure had fun, but I might as well have been watching paint dry for all the actual excitement to be had. Watching Wrath of the Titans is better than watching paint dry, but no one’s reinventing any genres here.

What we essentially have in Wrath is a second hero’s journey story for Perseus; the only difference is that, instead of wondering if he’s up to the task, he knows he can at least make a dent in the problem. In the first few minutes of the movie, when it’s become obvious that beasts are beginning to pour out of the underworld to harm humanity, Perseus goes right for his hidden stash of armor and weapons to show the nasties who’s boss.

Perseus takes up with warrior queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike), Poseidon’s demi-god son Agenor (Toby Kebbell), and a small band of her army to recover Zeus. And anyone who’s seen this type of film knows what happens to the group of adventurers that surrounds the hero. One of the surprises, though, is who does and does not die. Anything done differently in a hero’s journey movie is welcome, even if it doesn’t totally make sense.

Another appreciated part of the story is the characters’ willingness to do whatever it takes in the face of their own fear. When Perseus prepares to face down Kronos, leader of the Titans, we see him brace his shaking hand. It’s a nice touch that adds to the reality of his humanity, and makes you root for him even more.

Wrath of the Titans does look great, with a style in keeping with the first film that I find much easier on the eyes than last year’s Immortals: The world of Wrath looks real. Since we’re dealing with gods and monsters, that helps pull us into the story a bit more than having everything around the characters reek of CGI. There are plenty of creatures and battlegrounds, but the most interesting of these are Kronos and the labyrinth taken to get to him in the underworld. These are both realized in ways I’ve never seen before, and it was hard to take my eyes off of them.

Wrath of the Titans is a good, basic popcorn movie that sticks to the playbook pretty handily. If you need your fill of sandalfied sword-fighting, it’ll do the trick, even if it fails to rock your epic-loving world. | Adrienne Jones

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