It seemed like such a good idea at the time… I’d spent a pleasant afternoon at the Oxford Literary Festival listening to Jeremy Paxman talk about Empire, topped off by some cooling cava, and I thought I would round it off with a trip to the cinema to see – and this is where it all started to go wrong – Wrath of the Titans. You’d have thought that I would have learned my lesson with Clash of the Titans back in 2010 but time is great for making one forget things that should never be forgotten. But one thing is for sure, I may have thought Clash of the Titans was bad but Wrath of the Titans plummets depths that are so deep not even James Cameron can reach them.
Normally at this stage I would give a brief synopsis but the plot of Wrath of the Titans is so slight and contrived that it no longer owes much at all to the Greek mythology to which even Clash of the Titans gave a nod. Nevertheless, I’ll have a go. In a nutshell, Hades (Ralph Fiennes) unites with a son of Zeus, Ares (Edgar Ramirez), against Zeus (Liam Neeson) himself. His aim is to sap Zeus of his godly strength and give it instead, like a golden drip, to their father Kronos and bring him back to life. Bearing in mind that Kronos had been imprisoned in the ‘prison’ of Tartarus by his sons after he tried to kill them all, it seems like a rather daft thing to do and no explanation is given. So, in what is basically a big family scrap, Zeus’ other son Perseus (Sam Worthington) joins up with Poseidon’s son Angenor (Toby Kebbell) to rescue Zeus from evil uncle Hades. And Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) helps too, mainly to provide female interest, especially as Gemma Arterton was sensible.
There is no depth to the characters and there is no soul to the story. If you care about a single person or god in it then you’re doing better than me. The only being I felt sorry for was myself. The dialogue is bad and the acting is absent. Toby Kebbell has a valiant go with Angenor, attempting to turn him into a lovable rogue, but his effort is wasted. Bill Nighy is shameless as Hephaestus, re-enacting previous roles with previous accents (mostly Davy Jones from Pirates). As for Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes, I’m idealistically disappointed that they could be tempted by liberal pay cheques to return to this shambles.
There are few words to describe Sam Worthington’s efforts here and none of them are polite. He might have been bad in Clash of the Titans, but in Wrath of the Titans he’s downright diabolical. He does little to disguise his boredom, instead he inflicts it on us. He has no charisma, he’s charmless and he makes no effort to appear remotely ‘Greek’. I left the cinema adamant that I would do everything in my power to avoid all Sam Worthington movies in future – though going by his performance there there might not be too many of them to worry about.
The special effects were fine – Tartarus was an impressive cavernous, volcanic dungeon – and the monsters were reasonably imaginative, as was the Titan himself, Kronos. However, I was so bored by this stage that I couldn’t care less, I just wanted to be put out of my misery. The 3D was so dark and shoddy that all the action sequences were so blurred and unclear the film was robbed of any potential redeeming features. I saw this film in a large theatre. There were three other people in it – two walked out (noisily) and the third was fast asleep with his hood over his face. Unfortunately, I stayed conscious.
There is one positive to come from this viewing. It is extremely unlikely that I’ll see another film as bad in 2012. I’m also hoping that this is it. Surely the Titans couldn’t be so cruel as to inflict more clashing and wrathing on the modern world?