Wrath of the Titans
I was very disappointed by the botched Clash remake, but adapting the Greek myths successfully seems to be a curious blindspot for studios. Particularly since they lend themselves to cinematic interpretation with relatively little meddling. Immortals was rubbish too. Only the director’s cut of Troy can hold its head up, and that dispensed completely with the gods. The 1981 Clash wasn’t that great, certainly not on a par with Ray Harryhausen’s earlier efforts, so the remake didn’t have to do all that much to look like an improvement. But it ended up utterly derivative of movies being made around it, afraid to do its own thing.
Wrath is more of the same; it’s derivative of its derivative predecessor. Jonathan Liebesman directed Battle L.A.; he’s a serviceable shakycam hack who wouldn’t have the first idea about majesty and spectacle. Obviously, this has to be a dirtied up mythic world. Gritty and real. Ashamed to be a fantasy, really. I’d like to see a good version of The Odyssey but I doubt there’s any chance in the current environment (unless HBO would be interested in tackling it).
Wrath had a chance to do its own thing, and having Kronos break loose from Tartarus makes for a decent enough premise. But he basically becomes the sequel’s Kraken, stomping around all-molten while Perseus flies about him on Pegasus (why is Pegasus black? because the makers could only come up with the most facile suggestions for how to make it different to the original).
Sam Worthington keeps his Aussie accent but not having to concentrate on his dialect doesn’t improve his performance. Neeson turns up for the pay cheque, while Edgar Ramirez makes a forgettably malignant Ares. It’s left to Ralph Fiennes’ to salvage a smidgeon of Olympian honour as Hades-with-a-heart-of-gold. Bill Nighy seems to have been inspired by Ollie Reed’s Vulcan in Baron Munchausen for Hephaestus; one of the few lighter touches in the film is having him talk to an unresponsive Bubo. Toby Kebbell seems to be having a bit of fun, while Rosamund Pike looks very lovely, especially with a bit of battle splatter adorning her porcelain skin.
Liebesman isn’t that bothered about showing off the design work, probably for good reason. The creatures are unimaginative (Cyclops) or lousy (the Shitotaur, in a labyrinth that you thought might be interesting but quickly turns out to be anything but). At least the film has the good grace to bow out after (a long) ninety minutes.