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|Cinema Signal: Not quite a green light but has elements of strong appeal for a limited audience.|
"Wrath of the Titans"
What this sci-fi adventure proves is that a departure from Greek mythology makes for strange deity bedfellows and never-thought-of characters and circumstances among the gods. Homer is turning over in his grave at what director Jonathan Liebesman and screenwriters Dan Mazeau and David Johnson (primarily) hath wrought. Of course, messing around with the gods in this way could cause a meltdown by lightning bolt, but fortunately, the story holds together better than it did in "Clash of the Titans," its serial predecessor. Thank Zeus for that.
He and brothers Poseidon (Danny Huston, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine"), god of the oceans, and Hades (Ralph Fiennes), god of the underworld, are losing their life force because of the failing human devotion that gives them their power. Is this what immortality amounts to?
It's ten years after "Clash of the Titans" when Zeus' son Perseus (Sam Worthington, "Avatar"), born of a human and hence a demigod, proved his power by defeating the monstrous, multi-armed Kraken. Now, he's settled down to a human-scale existence as a fisherman and a father, both of which gives him great pleasure. But things are roiling above his head, where the gods are in turmoil over their fate.
Zeus visits Perseus with a plea to put a vast army together to help him and his fellow gods fight their enemy, Tartarus, a place and a deity which, as Homer describes it in The Iliad, "as far beneath Hades as heaven is high above the earth." It is the prison in which Kronos is locked and its bonds are weakening. When Perseus chooses not to get embroiled in such matters, preferring to protect his 10-year old son Helius from the dangers involved, Zeus organizes a meeting with his brother Hades (Ralph Fiennes, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II"), Poseidon, god of the oceans, and his own power hungry son Ares (Edgar Ramirez).
The plan is to rebuild Tartarus to keep Kronos sealed, but Hades has other plans. He attacks, injuring Poseidon and crumbling the walls of Tartarus. Ares shows his true colors by betraying his father in an act of revenge for favoring his brother Perseus. Taking advantage of dad's increasing weakness, Ares steals his thunderbolt, imprisons him, and joins Hades in further draining Zeus's power in order to unleash Kronos, portrayed here as Zeus's forebidding father. What these two villainous gods are after is Kronos' willingness to allow them to remain immortal while their brethren perish.
1. For anyone who has read and enjoyed Greek Mythology, the departures here are either laughable or disturbing. It's inexplicable how Poseidon, for example, suddenly leaves his sea kingdom to romp around with his brother without the slightest reference to the oceanic part of the Earth he rules.
2. In Greek mythology, Kronos isn't Zeus's father but, rather, the leader of the former gods that Zeus conquered.
3. The whole concept of power being drained for the lack of worship smacks more of modern complaints by the church about the effects of secularism in human society than anything Homer ever wrote or conceived. The liberties taken with the traditions come under the category of Hollywood mythology. Purists might say, "anything for a buck," but purists are not great in numbers and the commercial prospects for these revisions on Homer are astronomic.
Poseidon, dying, comes to Perseus for help, gives him his trident and the power it holds, and is the first to crumble out of existence. Freshly empowered, Perseus courses across the landscapes of earth and hell aboard the magnificent flying horse, Pegasus, seeking out Andromeda (the beauteous Rosamund Pike, "Surrogates") who commands an army. Obtaining her alliance (as well as making her heart go pitter-patter), the dynamic, resourceful hero now has the means to start correcting the wrongs that have occurred, not the least of which will be his confrontation with his despotic brother Ares whose whole purpose in life, now, is to kill him.
The story is richer in detail and more consistent than its forerunner, and kind of a bunch of fun so long as strict adherence to the source material isn't part of one's critical equation. And, since mythologists are few and far between, that's not likely to be a decisive negative factor. What remains is an epic sci-fi that pays off better for a wide audience than for a legion of critics.
Worthington is solid in the role of dour action hero, with his rather limited range of personality shadings. His physicality and intensity are charismatic enough among the attractions he brings to the role, and he makes for a finely-etched symbol of good against evil. Pike's role amounts to a few well-choreographed combat sequences calling for athleticism, and a lot of posturing when she's not emitting a sexual glow toward Perseus. The lady is eye-candy and a pleasant injection of feminism in a mostly alpha-plus male adventure. It finally pays off without gagging the male pre-teen audience too much.
~~ Jules Brenner
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