Ye gods, there's a lot of hacking and many seismic eruptions in The Wrath of the Titans, the latest 3-D action film that treats the Greek gods as action figures.
The 3-D effects are better than in 2010's Clash of the Titans (a remake of a 1981 camp spectacle that re-imagined Greek myths through a Star Wars lens), but the newer film remains a series of monster wrestling matches, with snippets of bellowed dialogue from middle-aged guys in long-haired wigs (Liam Neeson as Zeus, Ralph Fiennes as Hades, Danny Huston as Poseidon) who look like the remnants of a '70s metal group.
Accents are varied – Australian, American, Irish, English and, for the monsters, the usual subterranean Aaarggh.
We pick up the action 10 years after the previous film, where brawny demigod Perseus (Sam Worthington) is living the humble life of a widowed fisherman with his 10-year-old son Helius. He's dragged back into the fray when Kronos, the titan father of the Greek gods, wants to overthrow Zeus and Poseidon, allied with Hades and with Zeus's punk son, Ares (Edgar Ramirez).
Soon, Zeus gets captured and tied up. The invariably irritable Ares and Hades are draining Zeus's immortal batteries, feeding the power to Kronos. That means Perseus must go on another quest, rally some allies, descend to the underworld and straighten all this out.
The allies include Princess Andromeda (Rosamund Pike, cinched into form-fitting leather). There's also Poseidon's clownish offspring, Agenor (Toby Kebbell, channelling Russell Brand), and the artisan god Hephaestus (Bill Nighy, too briefly), who has built a labyrinth that leads directly to the underworld. Clearly, Hephaestus is designing a prototype of a future video game, with lots of shifting floors and closing corridors, that requires well-timed running and jumping.
The monster fights occur at regular 10-minute intervals: A three-headed chimera, a trio of big baby cyclops and an underwhelming minotaur (a fat guy wearing bull horns) and then some mechanical four-armed creatures that appear to have been left over from a Transformers movie.
Director Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles) swings the cameras between ground-level, point-of-view shots and overhead images of smouldering wreckage. In the underworld scenes, there's the occasional foray into Michael Bay-style, which-way-is-upright? confusion.
By the time Perseus and his pals have freed Zeus (now looking like an unjolly Santa Claus), Kronos is aroused. After all the build-up, I was looking forward to seeing who played him, but rather than a character, the father of the gods turned out to be a CGI-created, lava-spewing, mountain-sized creature with smudgy features and all the eloquence of a belch. He looked too much like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters, or the Poop Monster from Kevin Smith's Dogma, to be scary, although he does seem terrifyingly and unrepentantly messy. That might make him the real hero to the adolescent boys for whom the movie is apparently designed.
Wrath of the Titans
- Directed by Jonathan Liebesman
- Written by Dan Mazeau and David Leslie Johnson
- Starring Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and Rosamund Pike
- Classification: 14A
- 1.5 stars