5 Apr 2012

Wrath of the Titans Movie Review

So we went to watch the Wrath of the Titans this weekend, and really, it was dire.

The only good thing in it was the special effects. I especially liked the Cyclopes. I have always had a special liking for these creatures, having first come across one in The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad as a little boy. To date, my favourite has been the one in the 1997 TV mini-series The Odyssey, in which the Cyclops Polyphemus is played by sumo wrestler Reid Asato (in a suitable head-dress). The Cyclopes in Wrath (there are more than one) are superior, in my opinion, with their unshaven appearance and somewhat clumsy movements.

The same goes for the other monsters in the film, with the possible exception of the Minotaur who lacks a proper bull's head. The Titan Kronos, however, is crap. One is left with the impression that his appearance was based on which special effects would make the biggest splash on the big screen, rather than on any consideration about Greek mythology, or even the continuity of the storyline. Kronos is, after all, father to both Zeus and Hades, and having him look like a very large fire elemental is really quite inappropriate.

Is this Kronos or Surtur, the fire-demon from Norse mythology?

The 3-D effects are also very nicely done. On more than one occasion, I found myself inadvertently ducking to avoid a bit of flying debris that appeared to be coming out at me from the screen.

Sadly, that is about it. There really is nothing else positive that can be said about this film. The plot is flimsy. It is difficult to be more specific without spoiling the movie for anyone who will be watching it afterwards, but it has about the same depth and interest as a two-part episode of Xena: Warrior Princess.

The characters are about as transparent as a plastic bottle. Perseus is the heroic demi-god who has chosen to live as a fisherman instead of ascending to Olympus to live by his father's side. The standard tropes of a likeable male lead are lavishly applied to him. He is the gallant warrior who is also good-looking and buff. He fits the standard description of a "hero" - Brave, Loyal, Handsome, Intelligent, Disciplined, Tough. He is also a loving father whose son is the most important thing in the universe. It is really quite frustrating because one wonders if Sam Worthington might be capable of more, given the right script and proper direction. As it is, whatever acting skills he may possess are thoroughly obscured by the two-dimensional hero that he portrays, who has none of the human weaknesses that could have made him a more sympathetic character, and possibly explained why he has chosen to live on earth as a man.

The idea of having a second demi-god, Agenor son of Poseidon (played by Toby Kebbell), is a good one.  Imagine the tremendous potential for character development and drama that such a situation offers - two demi-gods, each a son of the Big Three Olympians, each a hero in his own right. Unfortunately, the producers chose instead to turn the character into a stock "second hero", instantly recognisable from so many other B-grade fantasy films. Unlike Perseus, who is noble and heroic, this one is a bit of a scoundrel. Presumably, he is meant to serve as comic relief, but his lines are so insipid that the viewer is left wondering if that really was an attempt at humour.

All the other characters are instantly forgettable. Liam Neeson is especially bad as Zeus, who, like all the gods, is portrayed more like an especially long-lived human with superpowers, rather than as a god. The idea of portraying the war-god, Ares, as an overpowered ruffian with a serious case of sibling envy seems again to have been lifted right out of Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: the Legendary Journeys, and fails to convince. If Kevin Smith were still around, one would imagine that the producers would have reckoned that he would have fit the role perfectly.

In summary, this film is dreadful. The plot-lines are unoriginal, and appear to be nothing more than a rehash of other recent awful ventures into mythology like Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, Thor, Xena: Warrior Princess and the Disney cartoon version of Hercules, all of which at least have the saving grace of being entertaining. Save your money and get a few pints at your local pub instead because, really, that would be much better value for your money, even if you do not usually indulge.

If you simply have to watch the film, just wait a few months, because by then, the DVD will probably be on sale for £5 next to the cigarette counter at your local Sainsburys. Better still, be a bit more patient and wait for your brother-in-law to get the DVD instead, because believe me, once he has seen it, he will only be too happy to let you take it off his hands.

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