There is a certain amount of fun to be had watching serious actors Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and Danny Huston strut around as pompous Greek gods in Wrath of the Titans. With his power waning due to a lack of fear and admiration from humans, Zeus (Neeson) calls upon his demigod son, Perseus (Sam Worthington), to stop the long-dormant titans from escaping their underworld prison and destroying humanity. Wrath of Titans treats ancient Greece like a supernatural battlefield with its near-constant explosions and action, but the story is no more refined than the one spun two years ago in Clash of the Titans. But, if you like your mythology fast and loose, this may be just the ticket.
Ten years after defeating the Kraken, Perseus lives with his son, Helius (John Bell), in a fishing village far from the temples of his father. Perseus initially dismisses Zeus' plea for help, but relents when Hades (Fiennes) and Ares (Edgar Ramirez) capture and imprison Zeus in the underworld so they can use his powers to release their father, Kronos, and become immortal. Poseidon (Huston) sends Perseus to find his demigod son, Agenor (Toby Kebbell), who can lead him to the fallen god Hephaestus. Played by an affable Bill Nighy, Hephaestus created the gods' weapons and knows the only way into underworld prison Tartarus. Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) joins Perseus on his quest in hopes of saving the troops she leads.
Neeson, who is a particular brand of badass, is a perfect Zeus; regal, grandiose and patronly. In Clash of the Titans, Zeus and his brothers took a backseat to mythological creatures like Medusa and the Graeae, but the gods are front and center this go-round. Hades and Ares both feel scorned by Zeus, who banished Hades to the underworld and payed more attention to Perseus than Ares. A weakened Zeus openly regrets hurting Hades so badly that he is willing to release Kronos, whom the brothers only banished by combining forces. As portrayed, Kronos is a big, viscous fire monster that looks something like a spewing volcano with facial features. Kronos does not speak more than a few words, but he can wipe out a legion of troops with one fell swoop.
Wrath of the Titans gets a bit bogged down as Perseus, Andromeda and Agenor try to navigate the labyrinth entrance to the underworld. The set design is impressive, but the never-ending shifting of walls and stairs turns into a bit of an endurance test. The film is simply not as interesting when Zeus and Hades are not on screen, as Perseus remains a silent, hulking hero. The process of getting into the underworld is somewhat underwhelming, but the sprinkling of backstory on the gods - a family soap opera of sorts - is entertaining. Apparently, even gods get their feelings hurt.
The effects are more impressive than in Clash of the Titans, and Warner Brothers obviously learned for the disastrous response to that film's post-converted 3D presentation. The IMAX 3D presentation of Wrath of the Titans is fluid and impressive, with nice depth and a couple of eye-popping moments. The story could use some work, and, other than an allegiance to Helius, Perseus has little emotional depth. Even so, the bickering between Zeus and company is entertaining, and the effects-heavy film looks great in IMAX 3D. A rental might normally be in order, but the visuals may take a hit in the home theater. With that in mind, the film is Recommended
William lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.