FILM REVIEW: Wrath of the Titans (12A)

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Never underestimate the intoxicating power of nostalgia.

Louis Leterrier’s bombastic 2010 remake of the cult swords and sandals adventure Clash Of The Titans suffered a critical mauling, and was deservedly lambasted for an ill-judged last-minute conversion to the 3D format.

His clumsy, soulless retread paled next to the 1981 original, which was distinguished by the artistry of Ray Harryhausen’s stunning stop-motion monsters.

Yet, Leterrier’s film still amassed close to half-a-billion dollars at the worldwide box office.

Money talks and consequently the gods and monsters of classic Greek mythology live to slay another day in Wrath Of The Titans.

Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles) supplants Leterrier in the director’s chair, welcoming back the cast of the first film for a showdown of cataclysmic proportions.

“The time of the gods is ending and the son of Zeus cannot hide from his destiny forever,” explains the guttural voiceover.

Demi-god Perseus (Sam Worthington) returns to his fishing village with 10-year-old son Helius (John Bell), hoping to put his monster-slaying days behind him.

Alas, war looms because the humans have neglected the gods, weakening brothers Zeus (Liam Neeson), Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Poseidon (Danny Huston).

Consequently, the imprisoned Titans led by the gods’ banished father Kronos are gaining in strength and will soon escape the cavernous dungeon prison of Tartarus designed by fallen god Hephaestus (Bill Nighy).

Zeus is betrayed by Hades and his godly son Ares (Edgar Ramirez), who have forged a pact with Kronos to retain their immortality once hell is unleashed upon the Earth.

Perseus answers the call to arms to rescue Zeus, slaying a menagerie of terrifying beasts with the help of feisty Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) and Poseidon’s wise-cracking demi-god offspring, Agenor (Toby Kebbell).

Wrath Of The Titans is an improvement on the first film but the bar was set low and this special effects-driven sequel doesn’t learn from previous mistakes, once again putting spectacle ahead of emotion in every frame.

Action sequences such as Perseus’s skirmish with a Chimera are still too frenetic, shot on handheld cameras in perpetual disorienting motion.

The 3D is more convincing, though still without any artistic merit.

Worthington flexes his muscles convincingly and Kebbell offers some welcome comic relief but there’s no emotional depth to characters and the heartbreak of closing scenes fails to wring a single tear.

“There’s more to life than gods and titans,” Perseus tenderly counsels his son as he prepares for the perilous quest.

Alas, there’s not a great deal more to Liebesman’s film, save perhaps for composer Javier Navarrete’s insistent score and a miasma of digital trickery that reduces battle sequences to a dizzying blur likely to strain eyes, especially in 3D.

By Damon Smith

:: NO SWEARING :: NO SEX :: NO VIOLENCE :: RATING: 5/10

Released: March 30 (UK & Ireland), 99 mins