Wrath of the Titans

3 04 2012

If I rated movies based on visual effects alone, then Wrath of the Titans would get 5 stars out of 5.

Unfortunately, movies need a lot more than special effects to be entertaining, and Wrath of the Titans never concerns itself with things like character development, plot, or intelligent dialogue. Instead, it’s all about top-notch special effects and ridiculous Greek-on-god action. For some, that may not be a bad thing.

If you missed the first movie in the ‘Titans’ series (2010’s Clash of the Titans), then it’s easy to get caught up. Perseus (Sam Worthington) is the half-human, half-god son of Zeus (Liam Neeson). After slaying a kraken in the first film, he has chosen to settle down and enjoy life as a simple fisherman.

Zeus interrupts his son’s peaceful lifestyle when the legendary god Kronos starts trying to escape from his underworld dungeon. Hades and Ares have already switched allegiances and sided with Kronos, while Zeus, Poseidon, and Perseus are alone in their fight for humanity’s survival.

So no, if you were wondering, Wrath of the Titans is not based on a true story.

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Perseus and his friends dodge, duck, dip and dive their way through all sorts of perilous adventures, and Perseus should have been killed about three hundred different times by the time the credits roll. At one point, his head smashes through ten different stone pillars, after which he gets up and kills his assailant. I guess having strong bones is one of many benefits of being the son of Zeus.

The entire movie is about humans facing impossibly long odds. At one point, the characters travel through a labyrinth with “one million” different pathways to take. Along the way, they’re fighting gods who have Jedi-like abilities and are impervious to normal weapons.

That’s all I’m going to say about the plot because, as I mentioned above, it’s pretty forgettable. The most important thing the plot does is create situations where the film can show off some amazing special effects.

One of the visual highlights occurs when the characters travel to the island of Chaos, a dense coastal rainforest guarded by deadly booby traps and several frighteningly large Cyclopses. The creepiness of the forest comes to life, and watching massive, shadowy humanoid shapes approach out of the fog is eerie, to say the least.

Frequent readers of my column will know that I’m not a big fan of 3D. In most movies, it’s a frivolous addition that contributes little entertainment value to the film – and a lot of money to the pockets of film producers (I’m looking at you, Justin Bieber 3D).

Fortunately, Wrath of the Titans changed my opinion on 3D – at least for 99 minutes. It uses 3D in spectacular fashion, and seeing a Cyclops face burst out at the audience from behind a log is both chilling and exhilarating.

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Kronos, the legendary father of Zeus. Yes, they get to fight this thing.

The 3D technology works particularly well when exploring some of the fantastic environments constructed for the film – like the massive underground cavern of Tartarus or the impossibly complex labyrinth. The camera frequently zooms away from the characters to give the audience some perspective, and it’s easy to feel like you’re in an IMAX theatre as you fly through the worlds of Greek mythology.

Kronos, the legendary god imprisoned underground, caps off the special effects showcase. The final battle has him towering over a puny Greek army, throwing lava at anybody who stands in his path. Larger than a mountain, Kronos is a walking volcano, and he is truly terrifying to behold.

The visual effects are great, but everything else is below average. Even average action movies give you a reason to cheer for the protagonist, and that aspect was sorely lacking in this movie.

Wrath of the Titans earns 5 stars in the special effects department, but just 1 star for everything else. What does that average out to?

2.5 stars out of 5