Centuries of study and art have been devoted to the gods, goddesses and demigods of the Ancient Greeks. Greek myth should provide a good source of plots for a fair number of movies.
I wish I could say what it is about these stories that makes them so easily spoiled on film. Maybe it is the tendency of writers and directors to think they need to put their own spin on these myths. Or it could be that the visual nature of film does a disservice to stories more suited to an oral delivery.
Whatever the reason, while there are exceptions, most films based on Greek myth seem to end up somewhere close to Lou Ferrigno’s “Hercules.”
“Wrath of the Titans” is set ten years after Perseus (Sam Worthington) fought and killed the Kraken in “Clash of the Titans.” He is attempting to live a simple life fishing and raising his son, Helius. Signs that the world is uneasy begin to surface: the earth rumbles and volcanoes spew smoke. Ultimately, Perseus is visited by his father, Zeus (Liam Nelson) who tries to convince him to join the remaining gods as they battle to contain Kronos before the walls of Tartarus fall.
When his village is attacked by a chimera, Perseus realizes he cannot hope to hide from the destruction that will come from the Titans’ return. Once he decides to fight for the Olympians, he learns from the dying Poseidon that his father has been captured by Hades and Ares, and his power is being drained to free the sleeping Kronos.
In order to free Zeus, Perseus needs the help of another demigod, Agenor (Toby Kebbell) who knows how to find the island where Hephaestus, weaponsmith of the gods, lives. Avoiding the myths that make Hephaestus another of Zeus’ children and lame in one leg, he is instead insane after years of relative solitude, but helps Perseus, Agenor and Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) to escape Ares and enter the labyrinth of Tartarus.
After rescuing Zeus too late to stop Kronos’ escape from his prison, the Agenor and Andromeda’s army dig in to face an onslaught of Titans while Perseus tries to recover Zeus’ thunderbolt from Ares to fuse with Poseidon’s trident and Hades’ pitchfork to form the one weapon that can destroy Kronos.
Even a monotonous recounting of this plot does not fully express how predictable and pain dull this movie is. While there are some decent effects and creature design, there is little else to entertain. With the exception of Kebbell’s Agenor, who provides a few moments of levity and a sarcastic attitude that stands apart, “Wrath of the Titans” is full of cardboard characters and tired plot points. The scenes flow relentlessly forward with little to connect them to each other save for a few blurry action sequences.
Then there is Kronos. What is supposed to be a grave threat to the very existence of Earth, is more of a lumbering slow-moving disaster. If there were a place to stick to mythology, Kronos would be the prime candidate. Instead what we get is a display of computer graphics that would have been more effective if it remained a vague threat.
Disappointingly, “Wrath of the Titans” is closer to “Hercules” than any movie should be. I hope that eventually filmmakers will realize that a flick based on computer graphics, a few stars and a couple 3D gimmicks cannot replace a decent plot in a thoughtful script. The only good thing about “Wrath of the Titans” is there is precious little room for another sequel.