‘Wrath’ of the pointless sequel

By Danny Marchant

There’s nothing as frustrating as seeing a good actor wasted in a bad movie. “Wrath of the Titans,” the unnecessary sequel to the unnecessary remake of “Clash of the Titans,” has the distinguished honor of wasting the talents of actors like Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes in a boring, meaningless product of Hollywood money-grubbing. In other words, the movie is bad.

“Wrath of the Titans” picks up 10 years after its predecessor. Perseus (Sam Worthington), the “mighty Kraken slayer” has hung up his sword and shield in favor of a quiet life as a fisherman. But something is happening and Perseus’ father, Zeus (Neeson) needs him to help. The gods are losing their power and actual Titans are actually going to clash this time, and the world is going to end.

It’s all very vague and just an excuse for CGI monsters to attack CGI crowds of humans. And it’s such mind-numbingly boring CGI, too. There isn’t a single scene or effect that stands out. The whole film feels like a video game.

And what a dull video game it is. There’s no plot, no villain to speak of and no characters of any kind. The film is just a series of scenes where “stuff” happens. First, Perseus must get the thing in order to slay the blah that guards the door of the flibberty-gibbet and so on.

The dialogue reflects this approach to storytelling. Every line uttered in “Wrath of the Titans” could be said by just about every character in the movie. It doesn’t matter who says what, so long as it’s said and the action is furthered. Granted, in a movie called “Wrath of the Titans,” subtle dialogue is not expected. But it’d be nice if the filmmakers tried to make it sound like human speech.

Big blockbusters are criticized for their lack of character development, but even the most two-dimensional movies often have compelling narratives that drive the action. It’s hard to care about anything that happens in “Wrath of the Titans” when both the characters and plot feel incomplete. The film smacks of being rushed through production to capitalize on the success of the first.

The film’s biggest flaw is its lead. Sam Worthington may be the most boring leading man in the history of modern cinema. He makes you long for the passionate artistry of Keanu Reeves. Worthington spends most of the movie covered in dirt and mud, grunting and mumbling. He’s like the jock that auditioned for the school play as a joke, got the lead and now doesn’t know what to do with himself. Surrounding him with real actors doesn’t do him any favors either.

And those real actors are trying their absolute hardest to maintain their dignity in the midst of all this nonsense. Joining Neeson and Fiennes are Danny Huston as Poseidon and Bill Nighy as Hephaestus. They’re given nothing to do other than to explain things to the permanently befuddled Perseus, but they do so with gusto. A movie about the gods, with these actors, would be worthwhile.

But that is not the movie Warner Brothers opted for. Instead, they went with an unimaginative movie about nothing that takes itself much too seriously. That’s the problem with the current trend in mainstream movies: Everybody wants to do a “gritty reboot.” Some things just aren’t meant to be taken seriously. Part of the charm of the original 1981 “Clash of the Titans” is how cheesy it is. It should have been left alone, an enjoyable reminder that the 1980s were, in general, silly.

There’s nothing wrong with silly. Silly is fun. And a movie about monsters and the slaying of them should be, at the very least, fun. When a movie with a CGI lava monster isn’t fun, something has gone horribly wrong.

Danny Marchant can be reached at [email protected]