Review: Mythic mayhem returns in ‘Wrath of the Titans’ in 3-D

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Review: Mythic mayhem returns in ‘Wrath of the Titans’ in 3-D

There aren’t many pleasures in “Wrath of the Titans,” the 3-D sequel to the 2010 “Clash of the Titans” remake. But surely one is seeing Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson bounding around together as brothers, the gods Hades and Zeus. In long beards, the two veteran actors are suited to one another, like a divine ZZ Top.

Camp is a part of the experience here, as both “Titans” films pull from an unlikely combination of traditions: ancient Greece and the 1980s. The clunky “Clash of the Titans” remade the 1981 original, bringing in boatloads at the box office by updating the Laurence Olivier version with digital effects and a widely decried, slapped-on conversion to 3-D. “Wrath of the Titans” has modestly improved upon the 3-D this time around.

But that’s also all there is: A charmless stream of battle and fight sequences that contorts mythic characters into blockbuster conventions. It’s comically late - literally the last few minutes - that the film even tries to slide emotion into the characters’ relations, as if attempting to hypnotize us before leaving the theater: Oh, that was a love story? And that guy - gasp! - was supposed to be the funny one?

Perseus (Sam Worthington) is living humbly as a fisherman despite his Kraken-squelching fame. He has sworn off the aging, selfish gods, such as his father Zeus. But Hades has made a deal in the underworld dungeon of Tartarus to betray Zeus and siphon his powers to Kronos, their dormant father with whom all of hell will follow. Curiously, when Kronos, like the Kraken before him, is finally released, he turns out to not be human in appearance like the other gods, but a giant swirl of fiery black smoke. Let’s call him Smog Man. Father-son issues run everywhere. Conspiring with Hades is Zeus’ son, Ares. Perseus takes up the mantle of world-saver again for the sake of his young boy.

Their journey into hell involves navigating a few marvels, like an enormous, Jenga-like underground labyrinth and Bill Nighy’s gangly magnetism. Nighy plays the aging god Hephaestus, from whom the travelers seek a weapon. The brilliant, bemused Nighy somehow manages to slur a trademark, drawn out “faaan-tastic” - a glimpse of comedy in a film (like any film with flying horses) that desperately needs humor.

Perhaps Liebesman, whose previous movie was the grim “Battle: Los Angeles,” is too drawn to the spectacle of battle to find the balance of camp and seriousness a ludicrous film such as “Wrath of Titans” seeks. AP
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