WRATH OF THE TITANS (Jonathan Liebesman, 2012)
I can barely remember the first film. All I know is that it had Medusa on it and Gemma Arterton. But I definitely remember it being better than this sequel, in fight sequences and story exposition at least, yet WRATH OF THE TITANS is still passable escapist entertainment. Never mind Sam Worthington's wooden acting here.
The story is still compelling, but quickly told as if in a hurry, unlike the first film which made much more sense. I can see what the writers did linking the betrayal of brothers Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades of their parents, which also happens here in turn with the next generation. In fact, there has been countless retelling of the story of the Titans (Tarsem Singh's IMMORTALS last November is the most recent) that any hope for faithfulness to the source material seem far out. For those of us who did not have too much background on Greek myth in high school, we'll just have to rely on what feels real, or what seems logical.
Several things that went overboard in this sequel: first, the first film was not entirely bad, but also not forgettable that replacement of actors (or actress) portraying the characters doesn't help create sympathy, or chemistry. Seeing Rosamund Pike as Queen Andromeda in WRATH reminded me more of Judi Bowker (in the original 1981 CLASH OF THE TITANS) than Alexa Davalos's turn in the same role in the remake.
Second, while the effects and action sequences are eye candy, it cannot conceal the thinness of the story.
Third, while Bill Nighy is brilliant in every role he portrays (him as Viktor in UNDERWORLD is a personal favorite), the character here of Hephaestus could have been given more life, or character, rather than being a mere gatekeeper, or toolmaker.
I liked Edgar Ramirez as a vengeful Ares. Filled with ego and ambition, the god of war becomes a character so easy to hate, and yet we fail to see a side where we will share with his issues leading up to his disillusionment and arrogance. The deficiency is really in the script. The actors are not given enough to work with.
I liked how the labyrinthine underworld was constructed. The structures and the traps remind me of how thrilling it was playing PRINCE OF PERSIA. Not entirely original (as the idea could have come from INDIANA JONES for all we know), yet still fascinating to look at.
Don't expect to get your Greek myth education here. Hit the books.