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Trash of the Titans: Paying customers will feel the Wrath with this sequel

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Reel Mama: Trash of the Titans: Paying customers will feel the Wrath with this sequel

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Trash of the Titans: Paying customers will feel the Wrath with this sequel

If only this giant hand
could have stopped this movie from being made...

I wanted to like Wrath of the Titans.  Hollywood has been having a good year when it comes to movies geared to young adults, and I hoped the lucky streak could continue.  Going into it, the movie would seem to have it all: world class thespians, money apparently no object in its creation, and some of the most riveting story lines in all of Greek mythology.  Unfortunately, all of these prodigious gifts from the filmmaking gods were squandered, and the result is that Wrath of the Titans can best be described in one word: lame.
Some would argue that the first red flag should have been that it’s a sequel, but the franchise factor is certainly not the best indicator of a film’s quality.  There are some great sequels out there.  The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King comes to mind. This movie might have liked to be The Lord of the Rings, but it’s as if the filmmakers thought about it, then said, “Nah, too much work.”  Some sequels, such as this one, shouldn’t be made if they are going to be made badly.  Paying customers will feel the wrath because the filmmakers had so little regard for both the film and the audience.
As the story begins, the Greek demigod Perseus (Sam Worthington) has retired after his exploits in Clash of the Titans to a quiet life as a fisherman with his son.  His father the god Zeus (Liam Neeson), looking every bit the homeless man, visits him, and explains that the Greek gods are dying, losing their immortality because humans have stopped praying to them.  The Titans, the fearsome precursors to the gods, were imprisoned eons before in the underworld when Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon defeated them.  Now the Titans are gaining power as the Olympian gods lose theirs, and the only one with the capability to stop them is Perseus, himself half mortal.  
Perseus reluctantly suits up to fight for the gods, joining forces with Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) and another demigod, his dreadlocked half-brother Argenor (Toby Kebbell), who looks like he’d be much more comfortable running a pot clinic on Venice Beach.  Meanwhile Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Ares (Edgar Ramirez), brother and son of Zeus respectively, betray Zeus by offering him in sacrifice to Kronos, the leader of the Titans who also happens to be Zeus’ and Hades’ father.  
The Greeks took family dysfunction to epic proportions in their myths, and keeping track of the nasty things the gods, humans, and demigods did to each other can make your head spin.  It seems fitting therefore that perennial Hollywood bad guy Fiennes yet again dons the fantasy villain robe, probably a Voldemort cast-off.  He wears villain roles like a second skin, but with this performance it seems like it’s wearing thin for him, and maybe he’s starting to get bored.  Fiennes is Oscar-nominated, and when he’s directed well, evil incarnate shines in the eyes of the villains he plays.  Not here.  The audience can only wince as one of the great Shakespearean actors of our time mutters such cringe-worthy gems as “Let’s have some fun” to Zeus after he has an absolutely inexplicable change of heart and decides to help his brother defeat Kronos.  Cue the bad special effects.

Ralph Fiennes bored out of his mind as the villain Hades:
he must have gotten one hell of a pay check

As he loses his powers Liam Neeson as Zeus is made up to resemble a Santa-Clause impersonation of Dumbledor and Gandalph the Grey.  Neeson is also Oscar-nominated, and it’s impossible for him not to invest himself in each role he performs with every ounce of his being.  He even manages a tear rolling down his cheek, but his heartfelt efforts are a lone cry in the wilderness of a cast and creative team who just don’t seem to care.  His talents are wasted here, unfortunately, and so are those of Rosamund Pike.  She has delivered admirable performances in other films such as the stellar An Education.  Her role is fairly significant and allows her to be more than eye candy, but unfortunately she has no chemistry with Sam Worthington.  Her big moment is a speech about humans having hope, but she sounds more like she’s stumping for Obama.  
The screenplay is a litany of Screenwriting 101 “don’t”s, right down to Perseus explaining to Zeus that his son is his reason for living and fighting.  Show, don’t tell, people.  As for Sam Worthington, he has a resume a mile long, but he remains as stony-faced throughout this film as a marble bust of the hero he portrays.
By the end, I was praying to the filmmaking gods, or anyone who would listen, really: please don’t let there be another sequel to this steaming pile of Zeus’ excrement.  
But who am I kidding?

Reel Mama's rating: Appropriate for 13 and up.  While there isn't any strong language or sexual content to worry about, the film's violence is very intense, though not gory or bloody.


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