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Marshall Fine

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Movie Review: Wrath of the Titans -- Ye Gods!

Posted: 03/30/2012 9:36 am

As I watched the final few minutes of Wrath of the Titans, I thought, "What I wouldn't give to be a 10-year-old boy right now."

That's absolutely the audience that will enjoy this silly, overblown special-effects extravaganza. At 10, you can still buy into the reality of wild fantasy; at that age, you live for the shocks and sensations of this kind of movie. It's the 10 year-old's meat-and-potatoes: movies built around explosions, outlandish monsters, fireballs and creatures made out of magma that drip lava. Oh yeah -- and the clanging of swords.

Unless you're that age -- and that undiscriminating -- well, Wrath of the Titans is an unholy bore. Its most regular source of amusement is the clunky dialogue of Dan Mazeau and David Leslie Johnson and the sight of a panoply of otherwise-serious actors sporting the flowing robes and tresses of Hebrew prophets or, in this case, ancient Greek gods.

Ostensibly a sequel to 2010's similarly silly Clash of the Titans, with several of the same actors reprising roles, Wrath echoes last year's Immortals, offering the further adventures of demigod Perseus (Sam Worthington), who must stop the escape of the evil Titans -- imprisoned in the Underworld -- who want to overthrow the gods and destroy the Earth.

(Immortals actually dealt with Theseus -- but the makers of this film give Perseus a couple of his adventures, including a battle against a minotaur.)

In this mythical mash-up, Ares (Edgar Ramirez), petulant god of war and unhappy son of Zeus, teams with the evil Hades (Ralph Fiennes) to drain the powers from Hades' brothers Zeus (Liam Neeson) and Poseidon (Danny Huston). In doing so, they'll set free Cronos, the evil titan who was father to Zeus, Hades and Poseidon. Got that?

When unleashed, Cronos will obliterate humanity, though Hades reconciles his role as Cronos' accomplice by noting that Cronos has promised him immortality. It feels as though these guys haven't really thought this through: If they destroy Earth, well, do the math.

It's up to Perseus, half-human son of Zeus, to team up with Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) and fellow demigod Agedor (Toby Kebbell) to stop Ares and rescue Zeus. Do you doubt they will?

But director Jonathan Liebesman mistakes motion for action. His camera follows his heroes doggedly as they dodge giant rocks, rampaging cyclopses and flying fireballs, but the jumpy editing drains the imagery of tension, rather than enhancing it.

And here's the other thing about bad CGI-powered movies: The filmmaker is generally afraid to actually let you focus on any of his digital creations too long, lest the seams show. It doesn't matter whether it's a giant cyclops, a pro-wrestler-style minotaur or Cronos' double-torso warriors: He never stops to let you get a fix on what they actually look like. Consider the difference between trash like this and something like Avatar, where James Cameron gave the viewer long, loving looks at his all-CG images.

The 3D? Unnecessary as usual (unless you have allergies and are easily upset by images of floating dust motes that pop of the screen).

But then Wrath of the Titans is itself totally unnecessary. Unless you're a 10-year-old boy.

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