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Blu-Ray Review: Wrath of the Titans

'Seems pretty content to be an adolescent CGI explosion, and there’s no law against that.'

 

Currently available in a DVD/Blu-ray from Warner Brothers is CGI sword-and-sandal epic Wrath of the Titans, the not-so-hotly anticipated follow-up to 2010’s notorious cheesefest and prolonged, unintentional masturbation joke, Clash of the Titans. The sequel once again features Liam Neeson, Sam Worthington, Ralph Fiennes and Edgar Ramirez as a cadre of portentously frowning Greek mythological figures attempting to prevent the overthrow of the reigning Divine hierarchy, and consequent decimation of earthly society by the dark forces of the underworld. The movie’s plot is basically straightforward and functional, and it’s loaded to the gills with blisteringly ostentatious special effects and winking, self-referential Kraken jokes, but aside from its merits as mindless brain candy, it’s a fairly forgettable genre exercise.

Perseus (Worthington), a half-human son of the supreme God Zeus (Neeson), has chosen to forsake his divine heritage following the events of the previous film and dwell on earth as a mortal human. Mourning the recent death of his wife, Io, Perseus is disillusioned by the Gods’ hypocrisy, and committed to his chosen life as a member of the Greek peasantry. When Zeus appears to Perseus requesting his help in a desperate countermeasure against the encroaching forces of darkness and chaos, led by underworld God Hades (Fiennes) and Perseus’ corrupt brother Ares (Ramirez), Perseus reluctantly agrees, fearing for the safety of his defenseless young son Helius. Accumulating a team of dubious associates along the way, Perseus sets off in the vague direction of Kronos, the imprisoned leader of the Titans, hoping to prevent the Titan insurgence and ultimately redeem humanity.

Wrath is a pretty unapologetic special effects extravaganza, and its plot functions only as a loosely coherent excuse to thread together its fantastical action sequences, which are an even mix of dramatic swordplay fisticuffs and confrontations with hoards of giant animated monsters. If those sequences are all you’re interested in then the movie is basically fine, but its lack of meaningful character dynamics or intricate storytelling make it tedious and bland as a full-blooded narrative. The character conflicts it does bother to establish either mundanely work themselves out or simply cease to be addressed once they are no longer convenient to the story. Perseus’ ambivalence about his mixed heritage, for example, is reiterated a few times early in the story, then barely mentioned again. Other characters, similarly, are given arbitrary defining personal characteristics without ever having the chance to fully apply or grow through them. Like the plot, the only function the characters appear to serve is to generically propel forward the action by injecting token motivation and an occasional, sentimental emotional veneer.

Warner Brother’s disc is replete with bazillions and bazillions of minutes of additional features, including a really weird variation on video commentary called Maximum Movie Mode, where you get to periodically choose between the “Path of Gods” (videos about the mythology that inspired the movie’s characters and battle sequences) and “Path of Men” (behind-the-scenes videos about the actual production process). If you don’t want to sit through the whole entire movie with the video featurettes randomly inserted, they’re available to view individually through a separate menu screen. There’s also an 11-minute reel of deleted scenes, which mostly consist of people standing around chewing the scenery and talking about stuff from the plot that has already been explained. Wrath of the Titans seems pretty content to be an adolescent CGI explosion, and there’s no law against that, but its mythological overtones and attempts at character development are half-baked, paltry, and unsatisfying, resulting in a disappointingly generic and rote finished product.