"By the Beard of Zeus!"
A panning shot of an army. Thousands strong, it has assembled to resist the Titan Cronos. Phalanx, infantry and siege weaponry bristle. Assorted extras howl “Hooh” or something similarly guttural.
An adjacent mountain explodes. Ash mushrooms outwards. Magma sprays for miles in all directions. A primal sound resonates across the battlefield, a primordial growl, a titanic groan.Rosamund Pike’s Andromeda turns to her General and warns, “Chronos is coming...”
Well, of course he’s bloody well coming!!!
That’s what you’re there for! What the hell else did you think that exploding mountain was??!Wrath of The Titans suffers some of the same flaws its debacle of a predecessor did back in 2010; redundant dialogue, botched set-pieces, lagging pace, wafer-thin characters, Sam Worthington.
But in terms of sheer improvement, the difference between Jonathan Liebesman’s Wrath and Louis Leterrier’s Clash is nothing short of titanic.
Case in point:
A moment later a fiery comet strikes earth. Erupting, a six armed demon is unleashed. It proceeds to spin through infantry ranks, disarming, hacking, slashing, skewering, striking and tossing foes until finally brought low by a unit of brave spearmen. There are no cuts.Wrath is often compelling viewing.
Much of the credit can probably go to Liebesman, director of the criminally ignored Battle L.A. His decision to consistently barrage his audiences with Titans, Gods, Chimera, Cyclops, Minotaurs and Makhai proved wise. Wrath clubs its competition, with regard to quantity of action.
Don’t be misled! The quality is, needless to say, rungs below that of my new favouritest human Gareth Evans (he directed The Raid, of which you’ll be hearing more very soon!) But while choppy editing certainly frustrates, there is a colourful, visceral charm to Liebesman’s kinetics.
Beyond celestial brawls and monstrous melees, the script also enjoys an upgrade. While not as tongue-in-cheek as it might be, the inclusion of occasional quips, remarks or furrowed brows goes a ways to lightening the mood when waiting for the next inevitable set-piece.
Expectedly, Pike and Worthington, struggle with this newfound humour, however relative unknown Tony Kebbell shines as Demi-God Agenor. Oh and Bill Nighy shows up for a scene or three to steal the show!
You take the tremendous with the tremendously naff in Wrath. For every line about how being half human makes you stronger than a god (I’d like to see THAT math) you get a shot of Ares and his extendo-mace crushing soldiers into the dirt.
On occasion you’ll enjoy both simultaneously, as Ralph Fiennes’ Hades and *’Wolf Punchers Zeus stroll across the battlefield, looking like a couple of dizzied hobos but raining sparkly CG destruction down on Cronos’ army.
It’s wicked. And utterly ridiculous.
Ultimately, Wrath of the Titans can’t ascend into the pantheon of truly stellar action cinema. It’s made mortal by a dreary lead, a pointlessly sombre tone and choppy editing. But it is still worth your gold (though, as usual, don’t shell out for 3D.)
If there’s one aspect which really excites about Wrath, it’s the prospect of Liebesman’s continued works as a director. He certainly rescued this franchise from the depths of Tartarus.
*Liam Neeson – Seriously, who else could I have been talking about?!