thu 28/05/2020

Wrath of the Titans | reviews, news & interviews

Wrath of the Titans

Wrath of the Titans

3D mega-sequel has learned nothing and forgotten nothing

Kronos, the terrifying lava-monster, wants to break free

It sounded like a good idea at the time - go and see colossal special-effects epic at an IMAX cinema in 3D. There was even a fleeting pre-show visit from the stars, Liam Neeson and Sam Worthington, who play Zeus and his son Perseus respectively. However, having just about managed to say "Hello, enjoy the film," the pair of them couldn't get out of there fast enough.

It sounded like a good idea at the time - go and see colossal special-effects epic at an IMAX cinema in 3D. There was even a fleeting pre-show visit from the stars, Liam Neeson and Sam Worthington, who play Zeus and his son Perseus respectively. However, having just about managed to say "Hello, enjoy the film," the pair of them couldn't get out of there fast enough.

Perhaps they felt that nothing they could say would help, because Wrath of the Titans is a baffling mash-up of Greek mythology which seeks to batter the viewer into stupefaction with an almost continuous barrage of monsters, exploding fireballs, erupting volcanoes and journeys through a Stygian underworld. It's shot in such headbanging close-up that it becomes impossible to follow the flow of the action, as disjointed images of multi-headed fire-breathing monsters or tumultuous earthquakes flash before your eyes.

Following the story thus becomes a bit like trying to read a book while driving your car over a cliff, so I'm indebted to the thick wad of production notes for spelling it out. Neeson's haggard Zeus is suffering anxiety attacks because "the gods are losing hold of their immortality" (it says here), due to the lack of belief in them being displayed by a sceptical humankind. Worse, the imprisoned Titans and their leader Kronos (depicted as a flaming lava-monster trapped inside a volcano, alias Tartarus) stage a coup and capture Zeus, assisted by Zeus's turncoat son Ares (Edgar Ramirez) and Zeus's embittered brother Hades (Ralph Fiennes). It falls to Zeus's demigod son Perseus to journey to the Underworld to rescue Zeus and save mankind.

This is not a natural forum for cocktail-hour repartee or caustic one-liners, so the screenwriters have restricted themselves to a lumbering cod-epic mode, or in Sam Worthington's case to terse monosyllables which make Crocodile Dundee sound like Stephen Fry. Worthington (pictured right), a miniature Russell Crowe with the stroppy bristliness removed, has starred in previous blockbusters Avatar and Clash of the Titans without so far teasing us with anything resembling a personality. With Fiennes and Ramirez keeping it one-dimensional (they play Resentful and Angry respectively), it's left to the lesser characters to dabble in some light relief. Bill Nighy, barely recognisable in tattered castaway hair and beard, plays Hephaestus with a larky Yorkshire accent, while Tony Kebbell's Agenor is permitted to gurn foolishly and make self-deprecating it's-only-the-end-of-the-world jokes. Rosamund Pike shows a bit of leg as warrior queen Andromeda, but I can't remember anything she said.

Any conceivable plaudits would go to the CG people, who have cooked up a varied roster of freaks and monstrosities. The Minotaur, snorting and roaring round his Escher-like Labyrinth, is truly frightful to behold, though disappointingly easy to kill. A troupe of huge Cyclopses are skilfully integrated with normal-sized actors, while members of the public should certainly not "have a go" if confronted by the ferocious Makhai (two-headed, six-armed super-warriors). Perseus's flying horse, Pegasus, makes a couple of graceful interventions. But all this electrickery is wasted by the clumsy, opaque plotting and the delusion that a performance is just a costume, wig and make-up.

  • Wrath of the Titans is on UK release from today

Watch the trailer for Wrath of the Titans

This is not a natural forum for cocktail-hour repartee or caustic one-liners

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