Wrath of the Titans
I first heard that they were making Wrath of the Titans around a year ago, and started to get excited. I had heard mixed reviews of its predecessor, Clash of the Titans, but knew that Warner Bros wouldn't pour money into it, and stars such as Liam Neeson wouldn't be willing to be in it, if they weren't satisfied that it was going to be bigger and better than the first film. It's the reason that I would be excited to hear about a sequel to Eragon, John Carter or The Golden Compass (all of which are currently on hold because they can't guarantee that the second would be financially successful) with the first movie having great scope and promise despite its perhaps less-than-perfect follow-through.
A week ago, I managed to get hold of the prequel on DVD and watched Clash of the Titans through. It was an enjoyable film but seemed a bit disjointed, the characters lacking depth and the interactions between the gods and mankind seeming a little off. The special effects were very good, but weren't fantastic or enough to define it as a great movie overall. Thankfully, Wrath of the Titans was better in all of these areas. Clash also saw Zeus and the other gods decide to teach mortals a lesson for doubting them, and release the Kraken upon them, but didn't seem to get any comeuppance.
So it was good to see that problem resolved with this film, in which the gods were starting to grow weak due to the lack of human support. The only god gaining strength was Ares, supported by the many soldiers. Afraid that their weakness would eventually lead to them ceasing to exist, Hades makes a deal with the leader of the Titans, Kronos (their father), to hand Zeus over to him in return for his own immortality. Perseus, Zeus' son, who defeated the Kraken in the previous movie, would have to rescue his father from Hades' captivity and defeat the greatest of the Titans if he wanted to save the world from a terrible demise.
Along the way he was helped out by Hephaestus (who created the gods' weapons and Hades' prison, acted brilliantly by Bill Nighy), Agenor (son of Poseidon, who died to bring a message to Perseus, warmly portrayed by Toby Kebbell) and Andromeda (queen of Argos, newly cast as the excellent Rosamund Pike). The team interact with visible humanity and sympathy, allowing us to feel more for the characters than the previous film. The other mortal characters added little to the storyline, but the various gods (most notably Liam Neeson as Zeus and Ralph Fiennes as Hades) were able to portray something different as the 'underdogs' in the film. Hades' personal disquiet with mortality added a great depth to the film and allowed for varied interactions with Ares (acted well, but without great depth, by Édgar Ramírez).
The story itself was as much of an epic as any story in history, a quest of demi-gods and mankind to protect the gods against the world-destroying creature that created them. With a few giant monsters early on threatening their lives, the sheer magnitude of the Titan at the end made for a unique enemy in cinematic circles - and one that I can think of no parallel to. The special effects were flawless, and the calibre of Sam Worthington as Perseus drove the film forward constantly, alongside his interactions with his father (and the other gods) and the tension with Andromeda.
Despite this, it still felt a little disjointed at times, with the massive scope meaning that many important side-plots were left vaguely unresolved (such as the Cyclops, Bubo and Io over the course of the two films), and the intensity of the action scenes meant that at times the parts were hard to follow. The largest criticism I could give is that I think it may be quite hard to understand if you haven't seen the first film - though Zeus gives a full introduction to the plot and people call Perseus the Kraken-killer a million times in the first twenty minutes, it may leave you asking which person is which and why anyone would care about . If you get the chance to watch Clash first, I'd jump at it, despite the film's par performance.
Nonetheless, it really is the epitome of pseudo-apocalyptic Greek mythology, and promises to leave the next film with a brilliant premise; an ancient world with demigods and monsters in which the gods have no power and the titans have lost their leader. The sheer fact that the great labyrinth of Tartarus, the majestic Pegasus and the power of Zeus' thunderbolt or Poseidon's trident are mere footnotes to the film says a lot about what the producers attempted to achieve.
Though not a perfect film, it is consistently entertaining, and worth watching for any Greek mythology lovers, action film fanatics or people looking for a better film than Hunger Games to watch.