Wrath of the Titans

Well color me surprised.  If you read my rather scathing assessment of the Clash of the Titans remake from 2010 you’ll know I wasn’t a big fan of that one.  Well a little over a year passed and the memory of my single viewing of that film faded but then I start hearing about a sequel being made since the first made a solid slab of box office dough.  Then I saw the trailers, and like the first movie, I actually started getting kinda excited.  I know, I know.  I must be some kind of masochist for immediately letting a trailer start to sway me even when my brain tells me: “Adrian, you know god damn well this is going to be exactly the same sort of dumb shit the first one was”.  But then I watched it since its fantasy, with lots of monsters so I have an obligation no matter how shitty it might be, and it was actually pretty damn entertaining!

Basically, they improved pretty much everything that was wrong with the first movie in this outing.  Believe it or not, this movie even makes my “5 or so movies actually worth seeing in 3-D because it isn’t shit or you don’t forget about it 10 minutes in” list, which is somewhat shocking considering the 2010 remake had to date the shittiest of the shitty 3-D post conversion hack jobs.  There were actually gags in this movie where I was genuinely impressed by how cool they looked.  There’s a scene where Perseus flies toward Kronos on the Pegasus and it literally looked like the thing flew out of the audience into the screen, and with all of the lava droplets flying around as Kronos tries to bat him out of the air it makes for a pretty goddamn cool sequence ‘cuz they really layered the droplets so well that the depth looks totally convincing.  Good job guys.

Story wise, well it’s a bit better than the first (at least there isn’t as much shit happening that makes zero sense like in the first one), but probably I’m a little softer on the criticism for this one because I don’t have an original version to compare it to.  I did actually go back and re-watch the original before going to this one, and even trying to judge the film as a standalone entity without any relation to Greek mythology or the original movie, it isn’t very good.  The Medusa scene just blows so hard in the new one it’s impossible not to compare it to the Harryhausen one from the original.  Also weird side note, Apollo in Clash of the Titans 2010 is played by the same guy (Luke Evans) who played Zeus in the other recent mythological movie Immortals, I guess there’s a lot of fantasy movie incest going on in Hollywood these days.

Anyways, this one was much more entertaining for me.  It picks up years later and Perseus has had a son with Io, who is now dead.  They don’t explain why, but considering that her character in the first was nothing but an expositional tool to cut down the running time and make it so the filmmakers could simply tell you the story instead of show it to you like they do in those things called “good movies”, I did not really have a problem with this.  I guess her whole immortality thing didn’t make the transition back to life from the end of the first one.  Anyway, Perseus has decided to go all pacifist now, and spends his time fishing and growing out his hair (which I liked a lot more, the shaved head thing felt really off for a movie in ancient Greece).

But that pesky Hades who got shot back down into the underworld in the first one is up to no good again.  Seems mankind is forgetting the gods, and without the prayers of mortals, they’re losing their power.  So Hades decides to resurrect and free his no good father Kronos from imprisonment in Tartarus and betray his brothers Zeus (and use him as a battery recharger for Kronos) and Poseidon (killed, turned to dust, another cool 3-D effect) whilst teaming up with asshole Ares.  A bunch of other lesser titans are released, Perseus has to break his vows of peace, queue lots of battles with pretty much all the remaining mythological monsters and gods blowing shit up that they could cram into the movie, and that’s pretty much the gist of it.  Deep philosophical filmmaking this is certainly not.  It’s a very dumb, popcorn movie, but it’s done well enough and the action is good enough, that I was entertained by its brief 90min or so runtime.  The movie definitely isn’t taking itself too seriously when characters utter lines like “Hold back Kronos as long as you can” to a group of guys with wooden spears facing off against a 1000 foot tall lava monster.  But everyone keeps a straight face when they do it, so it doesn’t fall into the whole self aware, smug shit that too many modern movies do, so I can appreciate that. 

The monster designs in this one were pretty damn cool across the board.  I did think the creatures were cool in the 2010 remake as well (barring Medusa which was awful), but this one is good across the board.  The chimera in particular was pretty fucking sweet, with a solid dose of nastiness that reminded me a bit of how Willow and the Lord of the Rings movies made all the creatures kinda come off as mutants (and mutants added to any movie can only improve it).  Another one that I really dug on was the Minotaur.  See in the myth the Minotaur is born out of bestiality between woman and bull, and in this movie instead of just putting a bull head on a big guy, they make him look only slightly bovine, but 100% inbred, retarded and deformed, so it totally played into the thought of this thing being born out of some kind of freak of nature, sexual deviancy type shit.  He’s got this big ass hair lip, and he’s kinda lopsided and all drooling, and his horns are even malformed looking.  You totally wouldn’t expect a pretty indecent monster design like that to find its way into a movie that 10 year old kids are gonna go see, but I can definitely appreciate it given my rather sick mind, so that was cool.

You also get Cyclopes (plural for Cyclops, not a spelling error, ‘cuz there’s three of them), Siamese twin type demons called Makhi (I looked it up, I don’t think they get name dropped in the picture), the Pegasus, and big daddy Kronos himself, all of which looked top notch, and all of which get the beat down from Perseus.

A couple things did still really bug me in this movie though.  First of all, in some ways it’s almost as if this movie ignores the cannon set up in the first one.  I was pretty sure Perseus was not on good terms with Hades with the whole “he killed my family” thing still left unresolved, but at the end of the movie there doesn’t really seem to be any bad blood between them.  Even when Hades loses all his power Perseus doesn’t take that glowing opportunity to finally get his revenge, they just part ways like old travelling buddies.  I was just waiting for Perseus to all of a sudden run Hades through at the end with a grin on his face and Hades gets what’s coming to him for the thousands of year’s worth of evil shit that he’s done.  Now that would have been an ending!  But nope, family who raised me drowned in a sinking ship, no worries, just water under the bridge.  Apparently the guys who made this listened to a lot of the harsh criticism leveled on the first one and tried to improve this one “for the fans” but if you’re going to make a sequel to a movie rather than re-boot it, you need to stick to the story already laid down, no matter how shitty your first movie was.

The other part that I thought could’ve been changed was how in the battle with Ares, Perseus’ head is used as a battering ram to re-decorate the entire Temple of the Gods (which is made of stone by the way) but then at the end of the movie when the battles are all won, Perseus only has a couple of dirty patches and a few small cuts and bruises.  Imagine how fucking hilarious it would’ve been if instead he looked more like Jared Leto did in Fight Club after Ed Norton beats his face to a pulp.  The icing on the cake would then have been getting to see Perseus spitting out blood and most of his teeth while speaking all of his lines at the end of the movie in a barely intelligible delivery.  I would’ve probably laughed out loud if they’d done that while he’s explaining to his son how he’s gonna train him in swordplay but his face looks like tenderized ground beef while the kid was looking at his dad’s face shitting bricks.  That would’ve been classic, but obviously such thought was not put into the writing of this movie.

Oh yeah, and they try even less in this one to get Sam Worthington to mask his accent. I guess Perseus must be the source of the aussie accent since in ancient times no white men would’ve settled there yet, and his demi-godly powers enable him to do this without even first having anyone else of British, Irish, Scottish or any dialect similar to that to base it off of.  Ah well, Sam is not known for his nuanced performances.

So yeah, even if you thought Clash of the Titans 2010 was a soulless piece of shit, this one is more fun.  But if you’re looking for real, epic fantasy and not 90min movie fast food, this probably isn’t going to win you over.  Go in with low expectations and you’ll be entertained though.