In Cinemas

Wrath Of The Titans (2012) – review

April 4, 2012 by Simon Kinnear in In Cinemas with 1 Comment

Titans will turn up, say their lines and hope everybody has forgotten this debacle before next year’s Razzies.

Wrath Of The Titans
(Jonathan Liebesman, 2011)

When a film earns nearly $500 million at the global box office, you’d expect its makers to shout about a sequel. But Wrath Of The Titans arrives with so little fanfare you have to assume they’re embarrassed by it. Intriguingly, the film’s central premise is that once-mighty gods are atrophying into stone because nobody believes in them any more, so presumably the indifference is endemic.

This, then, is Contractual Obligation Of The Titans, a film that has only been made because – well, because that’s what happens when Hollywood has a hit. At one point, Ralph Fiennes laments that “when gods die, it’s not death, it’s absence. It’s oblivion.” You said it, mate. The actor bears the look of a man who knows he once made something extraordinary with co-star Liam Neeson but can’t recall exactly what, because all he can now think of are the moments of doubt looking in the mirror as his terrible hair-do is plastered into place, or the endless days of emoting against greenscreen backdrops. As for Neeson – well, he’s making so many films recently he probably doesn’t know where the fuck he is.

Sam Worthington still struts around like he’s the darling of Hollywood, but Avatar feels like aaages ago – heck, it’s now on permanent rotation on terrestrial British telly, which is another thing that happens to cinematic deities when their moment has passed. An interesting thing has happened to Worthington’s character, Perseus, since the first film. Then, it was a unique and wondrous thing for a humble fisherman to be a demi-god, caught between two worlds. This time around, the gods are dishevelled hermits, there’s another mouthy demi-god competing for attention and the lowliest person on Perseus’ latest quest to be deemed worthy of a character name is a queen. Perhaps scarred by all the wisecracks about the piss-poor 3D in Clash Of The Titans, the writers have panicked and flattened the entire socio-political set-up of Greece into a level playing field of one-dimensional mediocrity.

With the vast majority of Wrath Of The Titans being played on a monotone – walk, fight a monster, walk, fight a monster – it’s hard to find the grace notes. Don’t look to Jonathan Liebesman, who seems to think that the right tone for this kind of thing is joyless kitsch. His directorial choices are bizarre, the camera skulking away from the characters (there’s that embarrassment again) and editing many of the creatures so haphazardly it’s impossible to tell whether they are fish or fowl. The only time Liebesman looks halfway competent is a sequence set in an ever-changing labyrinth, ie when we’re supposed to not have a clue what’s going on.

The performances, too, are no more than dutiful; I’d swear the first scene between Worthington and Rosamund Pike was a rehearsal they accidentally spliced into the final edit, it’s so lacking in passion or purpose. Redemption comes from Toby Kebbell – whose chirpy disdain singlehandedly combats the torpor around him – and Bill Nighy, who takes a decidedly different tack to payday from Fiennes and Neeson’s mopey performances by doing everything in a broad, rickety Lancastrian accent. Sometimes, the only way to face embarrassment is to out-embarrass the cause of the discomfort.

Thanks to Showcase Cinemas for showing me something to wrath about.

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One Comment

  1. AdamApr 4, 2012 at 10:35 amReply

    Brave man. I remember just how angry you were after Clash of The Titans, but to go back in for another round, that is above and beyond the call of duty!

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