Wrath of the Titans 2012 99 minutes rated PG-13

Jonathan Liebesman's Wrath of the Titans is arguably about as 'good' as a movie called Wrath of the Titans can be expected to be. It is convincingly acted by its principals, has a story that mostly makes sense, and has at least a few scenes of genuine visual enchantment. I could complain that I wish it had more of what it does right (epic battles of humans versus gods, some wonderful set designs, Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes having a full-blown 'camp-out') and less of what it does wrong (an almost beside-the-point narrative, a relatively blank-slate supporting cast, generally useless attempts at character development), and clever readers will notice that I just did in an offhand fashion. But the picture delivers the goods in ways that the Louis Leterrier original did not two years ago. It is also clear that Warner Bros. learned its lesson regarding cheap 3D-conversions. While Clash of the Titans became the poster child for the evils of 3D-cash ins, Wrath of the Titans features some of the most impressive live-action 3D seen to date. If you're actually going to spend money on something called Wrath of the Titans, it is honestly worth seeing in its 3D glory. Of course, there is irony in my recommending something that works best as a cheap Saturday matinee in a format that makes it noticeably less cheap, but that's your conundrum.

I could go into the plot, but I imagine most of you don't care. So all you need to know is that ten years have passed since Clash of the Titans, and Perseus (an absolutely committed Sam Worthington) is a single father to a young son (poor Gemma Arterton was brought back to life in the epilogue of Clash of the Titans only to die offscreen here). Anyway, various power-brokering between the various gods have once again threatened humanity, so Perseus reluctantly suits up to save the day. That's pretty much the ballgame, although the picture takes a bit too long to get to that point. As in the first film, the villains stupidly target Perseus directly, turning a reluctant warrior into a committed opponent. But the plot is, of course, merely a clothesline on which to hang some large-scale action sequences and some genuinely eye-popping set designs. As noted above, the film is indeed a visual marvel, and I'm especially partial to a gigantic labyrinth that leads to Tartarus. It is indeed a splendid labyrinth, filled with traps and an ever-changing system of walkways, doors, and steps. As for the action sequences, the focus is generally on Perseus' attempts at survival, so some of the cutting is a bit too close and tight for my tastes. However, the larger the opponent, the wider Liebesman shoots and the longer he holds each shot. Unlike the first film, which felt genuinely claustrophobic, this one feels more like a large-scale action fable, with the scope and scale to justify its obvious expense (I don't know the budget).

This review continues at Mendelson's Memos.