The much anticipated sequel to Clash of the Titans (2010), which was a remake of an earlier Clash of the Titans from 1981, (see my review comparing the two original films) has arrived to poor critical reviews. It is actually a very satisfying and visually spectacular film for those who liked the previous two films and fans of the fantasy/adventure genre.
The movie was directed by Jonathan Liebesman, known for directing the excellent but underrated Battle Los Angeles in 2011. He is an up and coming director making a name for himself as an excellent effects director with a talent for drawing compelling performances from his actors and will be one to watch out for.
What’s clear about this new sequel is that everything has been pushed up a notch; the story and visuals. Clash of the Titans was already a rather exotic cinematic spectacle but Wrath of the Titans aspires to the visual epic heights of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and often succeeds without being as epic in length. It also has elements from Gladiator (2000), and Troy (2004).
The story is loosely based on Greek mythology and delves more deeply into the familial bonds and the role of the gods of Mt. Olympus who are brought down from their lofty pedestal. Its theme of sibling rivalry and how parents can turn their children against each other will resonate even today. Brothers, Zeus and Hades play out their sibling rivalry which stems back to their childhoods when the arrogant Zeus was favored over Hades. Zeus has inadvertently carried this rivalry over to his own children when he favors his half-son Perseus, who now has a son of his own, over his other son Ares.
Siblings who don’t have children of their own are often seen as failures in their parents eyes and when parents under appreciate one child who is seen as a disappointment if they did not produce grandchildren, often drives a huge abyss between siblings who feel resentment and robbed of the love that they feel should be unconditional.
Ten years have passed and the same rivalry is now being played out between Perseus and his neglected cousin Agenor, the half-son of Poseidon. Gods, it seems, do die if not worshiped and man must fend off evil without their help. Even the gods find that they have more strength without their divine power and unappreciated siblings find new motivation when they are treated with respect by their favored brother.
There are so many visual treats to behold in this mythical creature fest that we take for granted how far cinematic effects have progressed since the days of Ray Harryhausen. There is an Inception (2010) inspired sequence of a shifting maze of stone walls and halls that adds a new sense of visual excitement, Pegasus the flying horse is back, and some great new characters have been added.
Hephaestus, forger of the gods is played with comic relish by Bill Nighy, Andromeda, warrior Queen of Argos is played with enthusiasm by Rosamond Pike, Agenor, half-god son of Poseidon is played with humor by Toby Kebbell, Ares the god and son of Zeus is played with intense pride by Édgar Ramirez who was recently seen as revolutionary Carlos the Jackal in Carlos (2010) and the Kraken that was dispatched at the climax of the previous film has been replaced by the even more ominous Kronos.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable franchise that pays homage to and treats with the utmost respect the original Harryhausen Greek myth fest. Even the original metallic owl has another cameo in this sequel. I highly recommend this film for fans of the fantasy/adventure genre.