Everything is on fire in Wrath of the Titans. Sam Worthington, as the mighty Perseus (otherwise known as the dude who slayed the Kraken), takes on a two-headed griffin-like creature that trashes a village with its incendiary breath. The spears and tridents that various warriors keep clutching glow in their fists like molten iron. And the film’s most deluxe monster is Kronos (father of Zeus, Hades and Poseidon), who, after being overthrown and imprisoned, has now risen up in the form of a really, really gigantic giant made entirely of volcanic rock and ash, with humungous arms that disintegrate and reconstitute themselves as they throw off fiery streams of lava.

For a movie that’s basically all warmed-over pseudo-mythology and special effects, Wrath of the Titans is certainly more fun, in its solemnly junky way, than John Carter. It may also be a little more fun than its cheeseball predecessor, the 2010 remake of Clash of the Titans. A lot of the digital effects are quite good, though that prompts me to ask: Why do the camerawork and editing have to be so jittery? In the old days, movies used to invite us to sit back and gaze at monsters, to really drink them in. The beasts didn’t need to be photographed as if we were watching Saving Private Kraken. The other limitation of Wrath of the Titans is that the dialogue is mostly made of wet cardboard. What there is of it consists of actors like Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, and Édgar Ramírez (as the evil Ares) staring at each other and saying ”You’re my brother and you betrayed me!” or ”You’re my son and you betrayed me!” We get it: The gods are losing their power, there’s a whole lot of betrayal going on, and this means, somehow, that the world is about to end. It’s up to Perseus to amass an army to fight Kronos and the forces of chaos.

Maybe it’s just my imagination, but Sam Worthington seems to be getting slightly less stiff as an actor. He now smiles occasionally, and he’s at least risen to the soulful inexpressiveness of the young Ryan O’Neal. For a movie like Wrath of the Titans, which is basically Gladiator crossed with Lord of the Rings crossed with a special-effects demo reel (call it Lord of the Rinky-Dink), he’s the perfect actor. And that’s because he never threatens to overshadow all that fire. B?

Wrath of the Titans
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