My first exposure to the wondrous world of Ray Harryhausen’s critters came when I saw original version of “Clash of the Titans” one lazy Saturday morning on TV. I still remember the eerie scenes where Perseus hunts Medusa hidden inside of an old, dark temple. Harryhausen’s monsters work even today not because they’re convincing special effects but because they come to us from a monstrous nightmarish reality of their own and refuse to accept our puny laws of nature.
I saw “Clash of the Titans” remake from 2010 and was pretty unimpressed by its bland corporative competence. 3D was so bad that I simply took my glasses off ten minutes into the film and watched the rest of it the old-fashioned way. The only thing that confused me about the movie was the filmmakers’ decision to tell a story about the death of Greek gods. Now, that is an interesting concept for a movie, but you know what else is interesting? Greek mythology, that’s what!
Its sequel, “Wrath of the Titans”, posits different problem stemming from the same premise: once you kill off all the gods, what you remain with is just a bunch of dirty bearded guys in a desert. Now, I have nothing against movies about life of Jesus but I just wish they didn’t advertise this as a movie about Greek mythology.
Luckily, not all of the gods are dead: Zeus (Liam Neeson) gets released from a nursing home to visit his son Perseus (Sam Worthington). It’s been about ten years from the last movie and Perseus has gained a son, a mullet and about 15 extra pounds. Zeus warns Perseus that with all the gods dead, it’s just the matter of time before all the demons escape from Tartarus and wreak havoc on mankind. But Perseus is too caught up in his wife’s death to bother with such petty things as the end of the world. It’s only when an escaped chimera burns his village screaming “YOU WAN’T ANGST?! I’LL GIVE YOU SOME ANGST!” that Perseus gets going. Meanwhile, Hades (Ralph Fiennes) tries to wake their father Chronos, himself a prisoner of Tartarus and thus evade his demotion from a deity into a villain of a bad Hollywood movie.
CGI monsters look great, particularly Chronos who is a colossal mass of smoke and lava more akin to a force of nature then regular monster. Rosamund Pike plays warrior princess Andormeda and Toby Kebbell is comical relief Agenor but they don’t really get much to do in a movie whose 90 minutes is mostly about big action scenes. Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson get some surprisingly touching scenes where they ponder their lives and incoming deaths while Bill Nighy as mad Hephestus is a welcome addition. As for me, I can hardly wait for the movie’s sequel called “Ennui of the Titans” about old Perseus who, in a world without gods and monsters, spends entire movie discussing philosophy of Jean Paul Sartre with Sisyphus.