What I love best about classically trained British actors is that they are game for anything. Whether it is a commercial for cough drops or a silly comedy they always bring their A-game. Their timing and diction are impeccable and they are masters of tone. To use a favorite actor term, they commit. But when they commit to material so far beneath them the contrast is so great that they just make the failings of the production harder to overlook. Flawless line deliveries only go so far when the dialogue is more suitable for the declamatory stentorian tones of a Saturday morning cartoon version of “The Expendables” than voices more accustomed to iambic pentameter.
The original 1981 “Clash of the Titans” (featuring the most-acclaimed actor of his generation, Sir Laurence Olivier along with “L.A. Law” star Harry Hamlin along with Bond Girl Ursula Andress and the zenith of Ray Harryhausen’s analog special effects) and the 2010 remake with Oscar-winners Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes along with “Avatar’s” Sam Worthington and a lot of CGI have been succeeded by “Wrath of the Titans,” another uneasy mash-up of a sprinkle of distinguished actors, lots of beefcake, mythical monsters, and dialogue so ear-crashingly awful it is a step down from scripted awards-show presenter banter. “Go to hell!” says one character. “That’s exactly where I’m going,” says Perseus (Worthington). He’s on his way to Hades, get it? Since the majority of the box office for the first film was from outside the US, we can guess that perhaps the dubbed script is better.
Having released the Kracken and saved the day in the first episode, Perseus, the half human son of Zeus, is hoping for a quiet life as a fisherman with his young son. When Zeus (Neeson) comes to ask for his help, Perseus declines. But trouble comes his way as the era of the gods is ending, and Zeus is weakened so that his long-dormant father Cronus is poised to re-emerge and bring oblivion to all of humanity. Perseus will have to save the day again, and that means finding (and rescuing) his half-god cousin Agenor (Toby Kebbell channelling Russell Brand, and not in a good way), visiting Hepaestus (much-needed breath of fresh air Bill Nighy), the Olympian version of Q, to pick up some weapons, and facing some Hellenic monsters, including a giant cyclops, a minotaur, and some beast-ish creatures. There’s a lot of sound and fury and 3D spears pointing out from the screen but the storyline is muddled, with no consistency from moment to moment in character or even the basic properties of the Olympian world. The script is downright painful, with bromantic trash talk that would be more appropriate at a 2012 mall than a Bronze Age battlefield. “Shouldn’t you be posing for a statue or something?” “Bring me my lucky cape!” By the time Zeus and Hades (Fiennes) go into battle saying, “Let’s have some fun!” all we can think of is, “As if.”
Parents should know that this film includes constant peril and violence, many characters injured and killed, some graphic and disturbing images including giant cyclops and monsters, child in peril, sad deaths
Family discussion: Why did Perseus turn down Zeus? Why did the time of the gods end? What does it mean to say that being half human makes someone stronger than the gods?
If you like this try: “Clash of the Titans,” both the remake and the original