Wrath of the Titans (3D)

What it's about:

Perseus (Sam Worthington) embarks on a journey to the Underworld to save the life of his father, Zeus (Liam Neeson), before Ares and Hades drain Zeus of all his life energy in an effort to resurrect the destructive and immensely powerful old god, Kronos.

What we thought:

The best and worst thing you could say about Wrath of the Titans is that it is, in the end, a very small film. On the positive side, it's small in that for all of its special effects and otherworldy action scenes, Wrath of the Titans is effectively a story about the relationships between the members of a very dysfunctional family. They may be gods but their bickering, in-fighting and reconciliation are undeniably and fundamentally human.

On the significantly less-than-positive side of things though, for a film that is supposed to be an epic fantasy film steeped in melodramatic Greek mythology, it feels unbelievably slight. It's the sort of film that starts and ends but does very little of any real consequence in between. We have winged horses, sweeping battles, angry gods, cataclysmic family dysfunction, fierce monsters and a massive, fiery giant of a baddie and yet none of this manages to create so much as a tiny spark of interest in what should really be a fairly classic bit of storytelling.

How could it have gone so very, very wrong?

Well, to be honest, most people who saw so much as a small portion of the previous film, The Clash of the Titans (a remake of a relatively classic 1981 film) a couple of years ago should be able to tell you exactly what what went wrong. Poorly drawn characters, wooden acting, cringe-worthy dialogue and rubbish storytelling.

Even though it's less visually impressive, Wrath of the Titans is actually quite a bit less terrible than its predecessor. The characters seem more grounded, the dialogue less teeth-gnashingly horrible, the storytelling less hopelessly inept and the tone somewhat lighter.

Still, Wrath of the Titans is a boring, nothing of a movie that even at a fairly brisk 100 minutes will have audiences everywhere struggling to keep their eyes open – a struggle to which they will no doubt constantly succumb, just as a means of escaping the headache-inducing shaky-cam action-scenes. South African director, Jonathan Liebesman's last film was the similarly boring Battle: Los Angeles and he again uses the same hyper, post-Bourne (or, more accurately perhaps, post-Saving Private Ryan) style of shooting that made those action scenes impossible to follow and thoroughly unpleasant to watch.

As bad as the set-pieces are though, Liebesman's biggest failure is his inability to infuse the film with even a tiny smattering of – what can best and most fittingly be described as – magic. This is a story of high imagination, of mythical creatures, of noble heroes and great adventure so why does it play out with all the same mechanical dreariness of watching someone doing their taxes?

They would have to totally overhaul the script, but imagine what proper fantasy filmmakers like Peter Jackson, David Yates or Guillermo Del Torro could do with similar material.         

Of course, even then, they would have to deal with the people in front of the screen as well. Sam Worthington is likeable enough a screen presence but he's far too bland to carry the film, but it's the supporting cast that really disappoints.

You would think a supporting cast that includes Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and Rosamund Pike would elevate proceedings but they all look like they're just waiting for the cheque to clear so they could move onto something better.

The only saving grace is Bill Nighy who essentially plays Bill Nighy playing the old, upside down prisoner from Monty Python's Life of Brian (you know, “you lucky, lucky bastard!”), but he's not in it enough to save a film that frankly could do with a whole lot of saving.
     
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