Greek mythology? Whatevs, bro! Have another Tecate! (2012)

It doesn't pay to know too much about Greek mythology going into Wrath Of The Titans

In fact I'd go so far as to suggest that viewers will likely be greatly rewarded by knowing, to borrow from Socrates, that they know nothing.

Because if Clash Of The Titans played fast and loose with the myth of Perseus, then Wrath Of The Titans was apparently written via text messages between hockey players in a 10th grade history class. 

After all, it wasn't Perseus who bonked Io but his dad, Zeus - basically the Warren Beatty of Mount Olympus - who then also turned her into a heifer, but I guess Gemma Arterton's contract had a 'no cows' clause. 

And Io's death - after the fact - is where Wrath begins, as Perseus (Sam Worthington) tinkers with her grave. It's ten years since he offed the Kraken, and he is determined that his young son Helius (John Bell - not that one) not become a warrior; instead, they live quietly as fishermen. 

That is until Perseus' half-brother Ares (Édgar Ramírez) does a deal with uncle Hades (Ralph Fiennes) to imprison Zeus (Liam Neeson) in the underworld, in order to release the titans hitherto imprisoned in Tartarus and unleash hell on earth because, shit, why not brah? *exploding Olympian bro-fist*

When chimera attack Argos, it becomes clear to Perseus that he can no longer sulk in his boat and ignore dad, so, under instruction from Poseidon (Danny Huston), he teams up with Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) and Poseidon's exiled son Agenor (Toby Kebbell), a fellow demigod, plus some expendable soldiers. 

From there it's a shopping list of increasingly silly set-pieces and various gods and titans (FEEL! Their wrath! SEE! Pixellated cuboids as Poseidon turns to sand!) as Perseus and his team attempt to rescue Zeus. 

This monster-budget sequel, directed by Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles), is a mystifying mess. If there was ever a dialogue coach employed on set, they must have either quit or had themselves committed, as the actors just play it straight. Why else, for example, does Ares have a Venezuelan accent? Why does Perseus sound like he's off to Expo '88? Why does Bill Nighy's Hephaestus sound like the farmer from Withnail & I ("Aye, I seen that Zeus, prancing like a tit. Last time he were here, he were with his son!")?? There's naturalism, and then there's not caring.

A nudge in any number of directions would have resulted in a far more enjoyable film: up the already ridiculous level of "whatever" (modern dialogue, accents aplenty) and turn it into a slacker epic; cut the dialogue altogether and make it a mesmerising SFX meditation; sack everyone and make it properly; and so on. 

(At least they learned from experience and shot this one in 3D rather than transferring a 2D print; it's more watchable than Clash, but only relatively, since Liebesman and cinematographer Ben Davis favour a frenetic style that probably masks some weaker SFX but makes 3D viewing headache-inducing.) 

There are moments of camp pleasure, like Fiennes' delicious boredom as Hades (he dismisses volcanic projectiles with a fey wave of his hand and spends the rest of his time rolling his eyes), and his and Neeson's strange '80s buddy movie moment as the two brothers decide to team up, and the climax, as Kronos emerges from a volcano - himself made entirely of lava - is certainly visually impressive. The rest is a hard slog. 

For the most part, despite the millions of dollars poured into post-production,Wrath Of The Titans suffers from a distinct lack of passion. The script, by Dan Mazeau and David Leslie Johnson (both very talented newcomers whose usual work is miles beyond this), must have been used only as a serving suggestion. How else do you explain Helius calling Perseus "Dad"?

Those who didn't sleep through their mythology classes might recall that Helius was in fact the son of Hyperion. 

But, you know, Greek mythology? Whatevs, bro! Have another Tecate!

 

- originally published on TheVine, 2012