Review: 'Wrath of the Titans' is Just the Same Old Blockbuster Joke

March 30, 2012

Wrath of the Titans

Wrath of the Titans wasn't beholden to any original it was remaking. Its predecessor, 2010's Clash of the Titans, was a remake of the "classic" 1981 sword-and-sandals epic that didn't use much from the original film aside from title, character names, and basic plot beats. Wrath, at a conceptual level, was free to use any classic tales from Greek mythology to connect its own moments of blockbuster action. There was room to come up with something interesting with engaging moments of drama to grab its audience. However, it doesn't do that, and while Clash was a mess of CG, monster violence, Wrath of the Titans is a huge bore.

This bore just happens to have CG, monster violence and monsters make their presence known with the slimmest of slivers in terms of story to explain why they're even there. Early in the film, Zeus, the CEO of the God Corporation they've got going on here played by Liam Neeson, appears to his half-human/half-God Perseus, played by Sam Worthington. Zeus explains that man's lack of faith in the Gods has weakened them to the point of ruin. Kronos, father to Zeus and his brothers Hades, played by Ralph Fiennes, and Poseidon, played by Danny Huston, has been imprisoned for thousands of years, but he will soon have enough strength to break free and cause the end of the human world forever. Perseus, now a widower raising his 10-year-old son, Helios, and tying to lead a simpler life, must travel to the underworld and put an end to Kronos' rise all the while fending off civilization from havoc-wreaking titans.

That's as expansive as you could make the story Wrath of the Titans is working with here. For as much depth as it brings, Zeus may as well have shown up on Perseus' fishing boat, said, "Shit's going down, and the Gods needs your help…again," and been on his merry, God-like way. Screenwriters Dan Mazeau and David Johnson - with story credit for Greg Berlanti - knew they needed a simple story to drive the action. Director Jonathan Liebesman, who did a fine job making energetic action with little story in last year's Battle: Los Angeles, and the wonderful team of CG creationists he brought on board would have to do the rest. Maybe the actors could add something here or there, but no one in this cast is in the mood to bring energy to their day job.

Sadly, Liebesman isn't fully on board here, either. A few sequences aside, including a nice spin on the classic Greek tale of the labyrinth, the action in Wrath of the Titans is of the medium-shot-and-move-the-camera-a-lot variety, not shaky cam by any means, but never interesting. The end of the labyrinth scene has Perseus battling the fabled Minotaur. Don't act like that's a spoiler. You should all know what comes at the end of the labyrinth. But what could have been a fine moment of horror, building the creature up, hearing him stomping through, maybe even killing some nameless extras, and creating a nice, suspenseful atmosphere, turns into a slash-and-grunt minute of film with choppy editing. That's just one fight sequence. There are dozens in Wrath of the Titans just like it.

Liebesman pulls off a nice shot in an earlier battle scene involving Perseus and a two-headed beast, a very long take with Perseus running in the foreground, the beast trotting in the distance. But even that scene becomes stilted and dull once that shot ends and the hacking and screaming begin. There's never any sense of excitement with the action, and it's made all the more frustrating knowing this film had a director who could have pulled it off.

The action aside - it's the most important element to this $100m+ actioner, so it shouldn't be cast aside so quickly, but there are other gripes to be had - there's never even a sense of connection with any of the characters. Even though we've been through an adventure with some of them before, they may as well be strangers for all the emotional weight we feel for them. Andromeda, the princess from Clash who is now Queen of her people, has been recast with Rosamund Pike. She gives the part her all, but we never get a sense of familiarity with her that should have been built-in. Even Pegasus, the winged horse and Perseus' trusted sidekick, returns, but he may as well be a taxi cab our hero grabs between challenges for all the camaraderie the two characters get.

Speaking of Perseus, he's the hero here, plain and simple as it can get. There are no undertones with him, nothing that might bring a sense of the grey to the character that keeps him from being a sword-wielding block of vanilla extract with luscious hair. Worthington doesn't do the character any favors, either, choosing to deliver lines, hit his marks, and go home unscathed rather than really try to bring something of enthusiasm out of the film. It's a movie star we see in the lead of Wrath of the Titans, not an actor, and married to a film as bland as this, it ends up being just forgettable.

It's a shame when you see something that has moments of scope, where you see a giant hand raising up over human beings and you realize it's attached to something that could step on Godzilla, and, for an instance, you become terrified. You wonder if the whole thing wasn't too ambitious for the people in charge of bringing it to life, and then your assumptions are confirmed with tedious action, a severe lacking in story or character, and not even original bursts of humor. Bill Nighy and Toby Kebbell as two of Perseus' journeymen provide those bursts of humor, but it's all levity that's become cliche at this point, jokes we've heard a thousand times before. Wrath of the Titans is a blockbuster joke we've all heard countless times before. The setup could have been different, but this is what you get when film makers take the easy way out. The same, old joke. With giant, CG, monster violence. Again.

Jeremy's Rating: 3 out of 10

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But Sam Worthington said this one was better?!?

Pat on Mar 30, 2012


My eyes glazed over about 10 minutes in to watching this, and remained that way throughout the rest of the film. As disappointing as Immortals was, this was actually worse.

Zeus on Mar 30, 2012


Comment Removed

Hax-Billington on Mar 30, 2012


Where's your site?

ur_babys_daddy on Mar 30, 2012

5 is the best movie new website on the interweb! Your post is bad, and you should feel bad!

chad on Mar 30, 2012


Ummmm... no.

None on Mar 30, 2012


Hey Man it is one thing to disagree with someone, but there is no need for personal attacks. Like you've done before just to subscribe to this website anymore. It is just one movie review man, chillout.

Xander on Mar 30, 2012


 I disagree with Alex on a LOT of things, but to attack him like that is just pathetic. Have fun at Slashfilm.

Blurb on Mar 30, 2012


Jeremy has given his reasoned, detailed, pretty negative review. elsewhere, Alex has given it his reasoned, positive review. the views differ, but both are from firstshowing writers and have added to our understanding of this film. both stem from the amazing revelation that people's subjective views differ. firstshowing provides a platform for these different views to come together for something you have clearly never mastered: a reasoned, polite discussion. you have contributed precisely nothing other than petulant, sub-adolescent mewlings. you may be more at home on the comment boards of YouTube.

son_et_lumiere on Mar 31, 2012


... you should do your homework better. Andromeda wasn't recast. Rosamund Pike played the part in Clash of the Titans too.

Yahzee on Mar 30, 2012


Ummm... No she didn't, Rosamund Pike did not play Andromeda in Clash of the Titans. You get an F in your homework. Alexa Davalos was the actress who portrayed her in Clash.

Nathan on Mar 30, 2012


...while I don't appreciate the whole "fat wimpy bastard" thing, I must say the reviews here are pretty uptight. They take everything way too seriously as if everything has to be an Oscar bait drama. Don't get me wrong, I have my own issues with Wrath of the Titans, but is not nearly as terrible or boring as this review implies..

Yahzee on Mar 30, 2012


"..They take everything way too seriously.." QFT.

None on Mar 30, 2012


just come back from seeing it.. yet again a big dissapointment.. studios must think these days that special effects are selling the films to the general audience.. which it seems is happening and why us fans give things like this a chance in the hope it may be different. I would have been better off staying at home whipping God Of War 3 out and scaling mount olympus aboard a titan... isnt it funny a game studio can get it so right..yet a film studio cannot! on another note that pissed me off Ares...THE GOD OF WAR... whoever cast the guy in wrath needs the sack... just ridiculous John carter was 3 times the film this is and yet that flops and this will no doubt claw back its 100 million dollar budget... annoying!

craigy UK on Mar 30, 2012


I wouldn't be so sure. Hunger Games is going to pick up more steam this weekend with people who are finally being convinced to see it by friends and the rabid fans who just want to see it again. This was a safe spot to put a dud because it could never perform against The Hunger Games. I'd put 10 bucks on it. 

DaftBot on Mar 30, 2012


Guys thats the trouble about movies reviews and building hype over viral sites and trailers. some people will say "is THE MOVIE!" or some other will curse the director to die in hell but at the end of all things is just a point of view from some "fat wimpy bastard" so just and watch the damn movie and if you like it come back and share your point of view... thats all 

:B:B on Mar 30, 2012


I was barely aware this existed and to think that it came out this weekend? Wow. No clue. I'll wait til blu-ray rental. Thanks for the warning Jeremy. 

DaftBot on Mar 30, 2012


I wouldn't say it's a crutch at all. In fact a lot of the shots in the trailer alone aren't possible in practical by any means. But really the problem here is that greek mythology is actually incredibly thin in terms of story telling. Characters never change and therefore there's very little room for drama without taking massive liberties.

DaftBot on Mar 30, 2012


Eh, I'll rent it.

Xerxexx on Mar 30, 2012


Cmon, the first one sucked.

ur_babys_daddy on Mar 30, 2012


The movie was great, it was alot of fun to watch. Nothing serious, just pure action and beautiful graphics. If that's what you really care about and not the dumb shit that most of the people here are spewing like it's supposed to win an oscar or an emmy, then go and watch it purely for the pleasure of action movies and very cool CGI. Use your best judgement when watching any particular movie, and don't pay attention to reviewers and commenters, because they will encourage you from not seeing a movie that might peak your interest. FirstShowing has alot of growing up to do when it comes to reviewing movies and displaying trailers, most of their staff have too much pride in them. Putting "Don't watch this.." in your news title does not make you the movie police. That's why this site will forever remain a blog and not an official movie reviewing website. Quite honestly, I only come here for the trailers, nothing else.

Good Sir on Mar 30, 2012


 So what you're saying is that reviewers shouldn't grade it on the quality of the film, just whether or not it looks cool?

GregDinskisk on Apr 1, 2012


"Director Jonathan Liebesman, who did a fine job making energetic action with little story in last year's Battle: Los Angeles, and the wonderful team of CG creationists he brought on board would have to do the rest. Maybe the actors could add something here or there, but no one in this cast is in the mood to bring energy to their day job." Sounds like Jeremy is not a big fan of Worthington or any of the other actors in this flick. Energetic action on Battle Los Angeles? That was the worst made movies ever, kiss a little more ass wussbag. I cant believe people like you get paid to review these movies, you must have blown someone in management to get that job.

tjc540 on Mar 30, 2012


I disagree with your disgusting attitude, which you must have picked up from watching too much Keith Olbermann. But I agree that Battle: Los Angeles was extremely lame.

Blurb on Mar 30, 2012


I saw this today, and I must say I won't attack the film the way Jeremy does, but he's pretty spot on with this review! That whole scene with the labyrinth with that ludicrous looking Minotaur should not have been in this film! It felt like something that was shot in film class, no effort whatsoever! But the effects were topnotch. Once again Danny Huston was underused, and Bill Nighy's character paranoid old man was such a waste!

jah p on Mar 30, 2012


Now I'm interested to watch this only to see if I agree with you or Alex.. I actually didn't hate (it was ok.. looked bad in 2D, I heard the 3D was even worse, but still..) the first film, so I don't know..

Davide Coppola on Apr 2, 2012


I dig mythology and movies about mythology and the 1981 Clash was one of my all-time favorite movies (not because of the sensational CG they totally didn't have back then either).  The remake was not a disaster but Perseus was muscled up and really brutally tough and honestly played the role of a demigod. What the heck happened between then and now?  He's a scrawny little weenie in Wrath!  I'm dying over here.  WTF is he doing having a child with Io anyway?  I mean really.  There's a story line, of course, with the whole father/son thing going on but Io?  In mythology I believe Io was like literally one of his ancestors or something and Zeus turned her into a cow to disguise her from getting messed up by Hera.  Okay, rant ended.  The movie is good enough for Red Box but I'm not loving the $ I put down to see it tonight.  I stayed awake.  Totally digging the cyclops but they needed more screen time.  Oh, and p.s., somebody PLEASE make a movie that follows mythology.  It's really interesting enough without twisting it.

Shannon Davis on Apr 9, 2012


Having recently seen it I will not attack the film like Jeremy. It can be agreed that the minotaur sequence was not needed and the minotaur should have been more animalistic, not merely a disfigured human with horns. The acting was very well done in regards to Sam Worthington and Liam Neeson who provided the strongest character in the film. If anything was lacking or hashed it was the story and essentially its plot elements. The manticore and minotaur come from two different stories need I say. Chris Nolan put it how it should be 'follow where the story goes' not hash several together just to get pieces you want.

Vitokris on Aug 10, 2012

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