Wrath of the Titans
Starring Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Edgar Ramirez, Toby Kebbell, Rosamund Pike and Bill Nighy. Directed by Jonathan Liebesman. Written by Dan Mazeau, David Leslie Johnson and Greg Berlanti. Based upon the characters created by Beverley Cross. Running time: 99 minutes. Rated PG-13.
Absolutely nobody admits to liking the last Clash of the Titans, a grimy, overwrought 3-D muddle that nonetheless hauled in enough loot to balance Detroit's budget three times over. Yet cash is king, so as inevitably as ancient ruins crumbling, comes a sequel to a reboot of an homage to movies that were themselves based on stories that are a few thousand years old. Who says Hollywood has no new ideas?
We catch up with surly demigod Perseus (the clunky Sam Worthington), roughly a decade or so after he crushed the Kraken and saved the world, now taking it easy as a simple fisherman, far away from his monster-slaying legacy. Now a widower, since the spicy Gemma Arterton was apparently unavailable this time, our half-god hero just wants to lay low and raise his tween son the right way. Even though most of their relatives have constellations named after them, he actually tells the inquisitive lad, "There's more to life than gods, you know." It's hard to keep them down on the dock after they've seen Mount Olympus, however, and soon enough Perseus is called back into action to save the world from hordes of CGI beasties yet again.
The omnipresent Liam Neeson returns as Zeus, though it seems the big-sky honcho is a little less than almighty these days, as the mortals have largely stopped praying to him and his heavenly kin. In a panic that the party of the gods is over, the treacherous brother of Zeus, Hades (Ralph Fiennes), and the militant Aries (Edgar Ramirez) have made a deal to release their father, the fiery world-destroyer Kronos, in exchange for keeping their own immortality. Talk about daddy issues!
All this plotting is window dressing for battles with a menagerie of fiendish minions, including a giant cyclops, flying demon dogs, multiheaded brutes, a minotaur, and the big baddie himself, an eye-popping gargantuan mass of smoke and lava that the late, great Ray Harryhausen himself couldn't have pulled off. The 3-D effects are a huge upgrade over the last flick, especially when the action moves to a city-sized labyrinth, which shifts around like a tricky video game level.
At least the actors seem to be having a bit more fun; Neeson and Fiennes get more room to ham it up, and the always amusing Bill Nighy is on hand as the kooky old inventor god Hephaestus, who inexplicably sports a heavy Manchester accent. Actually everyone's accents are all over the place, which I guess, is preferable to a lot of dry "thou and thither" you usually get. The fetching Rosamund Pike is always welcome, though we don't get nearly enough of her agile swordplay and perfunctory romance with the bland Worthington. Of course, anything human scale is bound to get swallowed up by all the nonstop epic chaos, which is fun for a moment, but certainly won't last forever.