Made possible by the half a billion dollars Clash of the Titans garnered worldwide, Wrath of the Titans sputters and coughs on the fumes of its own inevitability. This is a product of gross indifference in every respect, an attempt on the part of its producers to make enough money to justify a third, perhaps even more cut-rate, installment. (Revenge of the Titans?) Just when you think the Hollywood machine can’t express its contempt for its customers in clearer terms, Wrath of the Titans, compared to all the cynical CGI dumps we’ve endured over the past two decades, is one increment beyond the bottom of the barrel. What does it have going for it? Just the fact that it meets the minimum qualifications for “big-screen spectacle.” It’s a triumph of classification.
The plot—the hero from first film reluctantly agrees to save the day, this time venturing into the underworld—is almost secondary to its telling. The script, by Dan Mazeau and David Johnson, is a veritable Christmas tree of screenwriting crimes: characters addressing each other by their relationship (“Ares, my son”) instead of name, explaining backstory in paragraph-long swaths of dialogue, and constantly, “casually” talking about what’s going on, where they are, and what’s going to happen next.
Say what you will about Michael Bay (he may not have a good movie in him, but his exuberant tastelessness is enjoyable), his Platinum Dunes production house seems to manufacture two things: boring films and hotshot, unimaginative young directors who can string reels of footage together in chronological order. I haven’t seen any of Jonathan Liebesman’s other films, but on the evidence of Wrath of the Titans, he appears to be the stick-the-camera-anywhere type who only brings to a project a large on-set trailer and the privilege of being allowed to talk to all members of the cast and crew.
Watching Wrath of the Titans, I found myself second-guessing Liebesman’s every decision, down to his choice in lenses and the tiniest, most inconsequential camera movements. But can he be blamed for Sam Worthington’s dead eyes? The senseless cutting by Oscar-winner (!) Martin Walsh? The ridiculous, Civil-War-reenactment beards everyone wears? No, Liebesman’s only an order-taker. The real responsibility for this monstrosity belongs to banal, calculated greed, the mercenary desire for money to change hands, at the expense of style, humor, and pleasure.
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