Wrath of the Titans

Like many a franchise-killer, this big, flailing dud of a sequel to 2010's Clash of the Titans is more (retina-herniating CGI), less (fun), and the same (basic plot) as its predecessor. What it lacks are the very elements that made the first movie such a surprise: wit and nerve. What, after all, could be riskier or more of a hoot than rebooting the cheesiest of the Charles SchneerRay Harryhausen monsterfests? Velveeta is about all Wrath of the Titans has to offer. Picking up an indistinct number of years after the first film—like a lot of expository glue, that tidbit seems to have been snipped from the final cut—it follows half-god Perseus (Sam Worthington) on a rote quest to rescue his pop, Zeus (Liam Neeson), from the ghastly trio of jealous sibling Ares (Édgar Ramírez), Uncle Hades (Ralph Fiennes), and, if I understand correctly, his giant, lava-slinging granddad, an admittedly novel movie beast. Who can tell if director Jonathan Liebesman (Battle Los Angeles) brings any spark of his own to this family squabble, bogged down as it is in special-effects set pieces and cliché-bleeding dialogue courtesy of five credited screenwriters. Maybe, as one character puts it early on, there's just "more to life than gods and titans"—this season, skyscraper-sized demons, pouty deities, and the underworld are weak tea compared to a certain bow-wielding teenage girl and the preening overclass whose thirst for her life-and-death struggle has a god-like quality, if not an analogue in the real world.

 
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