What is it about 3D? In its infancy it attracted audiences because it was seldom seen and as a result had some degree of novelty. Now every other film that’s released, especially anything that falls under the auspices of ‘blockbuster’, jumps at you from the screen in heightened realism. Some, like Wrath of the Titans, the sequel to Clash of the Titans (2010) which itself was a remake of the 1981 classic of the same name, go one step better highlighting the fact that you can also see the film in good old-fashioned 2D – oh whoopee! However where some 3D spectaculars use the medium to the best effect, it only serves to empathise shortcomings in others.
The demigod Perseus (Sam Worthington) is making a living as a fisherman, trying his best to put the memory of his defeat of the mighty Kraken a decade before, behind him. But the life of happy obscurity he has forged for his son Helius (John Bell) and himself is jeopardised when his father Zeus (Liam Neeson) visits him on earth to ask for his help. Many years before Zeus and his brothers Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Poseidon (Danny Huston) imprisoned their father Kronos and his followers the Titans in the Underworld where they could not harm the earth or mankind.
However trouble is brewing within the bowels of hell. Hades has changed allegiance and, with the help of Zeus’ godly son Ares (Edgar Ramirez), has made a deal to free Kronos in exchange for the capture of Zeus. As a result it is up to Perseus, along with fellow demigod Agenor (Tony Kebbell) son of Poseidon, and the beautiful warrior Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike), to travel to hell and back and save not only mankind but Zeus himself from a fate worse than death.
Wrath of the Titans promised so much that in the end it was almost inevitable it would fail to live up to all the hype. Greek gods, handsome heroes, beautiful women and some of the best adventures in the history of …… well, history! All the elements were there for a potentially meaty boys own tale of daring do and heroic deeds. But in the end its achilles heel is its over-dependence on effects, with what storyline or characterisation that it might potentially have had getting lost in a cgi extravaganza of mythical proportions.
It does, to give it its dues, have some redeeming qualities. Bill Nighy gives a splendidly wacky performance as the fallen god Hephaestus, creator of the godly triumvirate’s weapons of power, whilst his creation of The Labyrinth – the mindbogglingly complex and deadly gateway to Tartarus, the dungeon which houses Kronos in the Underworld – is a beautiful example of complex mechanical engineering.
However these points in the film’s favour are lost amidst a sea of technical wizardry which frankly leaves the viewer overwhelmed by its sheer enormity. The original Clash of the Titans had some degree of depth and characterisation giving Harry Hamlin, Laurence Olivier and the rest of its cast something half coherent and meaningful to say. Even it’s stop-motion animation by Ray Harryhausen had a naive, albeit clunky, charm. This new take on the old legends however are more of a Greek tragedy and as a result should, as quickly as possible, be consigned to the annals of ancient history.