I am one of the countless kids who grew up with the original Clash of the Titans movie as the primary basis for much of my understanding of Greek mythology. The 1981 Ray Harryhausen infused spectacle introduced me to the OIympian pantheon, Medusa, and all the rest of those fantastic beasties, and it set my genre expectations for the rest of my life. It’s reasonable to expect, then, that I would have been upset by Louis Leterrier’s 2010 remake that critics widely panned. Surprisingly, I mostly enjoyed the new version of Clash of the Titans, despite its breaks with nostalgia and problems. That put me in a position to look forward to more adventure with 2012’s follow-up, Wrath of the Titans, which released on Blu-ray a couple of weeks ago.
The Clash of the Titans remake mostly follows the plot of the original movie, which is, in turn, informed by classic Greek myths. Perseus is a demigod, the son of Zeus and a mortal queen. He rises to heroism when Hades threatens the kingdom of Argos with the massive and monstrous Kraken and Andromeda literally hangs in the balance as the sacrificial savior. Perseus gathers a band of warriors and travels to the ends of the Earth to confront giant scorpions, a gorgon, and other beastly horrors. By being able to hit the bullet points from the original film, the 2010 Clash had an expected and reliably enjoyable path to follow. Conversely, fans of the original carried high expectations, and the remake failed to meet most of those fans’ hopes.
Wrath of the Titans arrived in theaters two years later with a new director (Jonathan Liebesman), some shuffling of the cast (Gemma Arterton is out, and Rosamund Pike has replaced Alexa Davalos as Andromeda), and an all new story. Wrath breaks new ground through necessity, since there never was a sequel to the 1981 Clash of the Titans. While many of the characters’ fates are predetermined through ancient myth, the particulars of Wrath are all new. Fans of the original Clash would be able to go into this one without having the same sorts of expectations to be met, but conversely the folks who enjoyed the nostalgic factor of the encounters from the 2010 film would have nothing upon which to hang their hats in the 2012 sequel. Such is the lot of an original sequel to a poorly received remake of a beloved classic film.
Wrath picks up a decade after the events of Clash of the Titans. Perseus (Sam Worthington), having rejected his place alongside the gods, lives the quiet life of a fisherman with his son Helius (John Bell). His peaceful existence is shaken when his father, Zeus (Liam Neeson), visits to ask Perseus to help him rally an army. The walls of the Underworld prison of Tartarus have been weakening due to a lack of faith from humans, and the unholy prisoners threaten to escape into the mortal realm. Perseus rejects Zeus’s request for aid, wanting to leave his life of high heroics in the past. Zeus and his brother Poseidon (Danny Huston) then travel with Zeus’s son Ares (Edgar Ramirez) to the Underworld to make peace with their estranged brother Hades (Ralph Fiennes). They meet with betrayal when they reach Tartarus and learn that Ares and Hades have made a deal with the gods’ imprisoned father, the immensely powerful and destructive Titan Kronos. Hades gravely wounds Poseidon and imprisons Zeus, intending to transfer Zeus’s power to Kronos to aid in the Titan’s escape.
As the gates of Tartarus breach, all manner of monsters and demons belch forth into the world of humans. A particularly nasty Chimera assaults and destroys Perseus’s fishing village, finally moving the erstwhile hero to don his sword and remount his winged steed. The rest of the movie follows Perseus as he finds and builds his warband to travel in search of artifacts that can defeat Kronos and drive him back into his Underworld prison. In keeping with Clash of the Titans, Wrath of the Titans draws from a rich mythological bestiary to create memorable fights and encounters that are both fresh and familiar. Overall Wrath of the Titans is a better constructed film than the 2010 Clash, carried by better performances, more time spent with the gods, and better dialogue. By virtue of its not being a remake, however, Wrath lacks the nostalgic hooks that propelled the Clash remake. These new monsters, fights, and locations are exciting to see adapted from the original myths, but they lack the punch the previous movie delivered when it showed us updated versions of the Medusa encounter, the scorpions, and other essential hallmarks of the 1981 spectacle.
In addition to the movie itself, the Blu-ray release packs in some bonus features:
- Maximum Movie Mode – This isn’t a new feature for Warner’s Blu-rays, but the way it’s implemented here definitely is new. Typically Maximum Movie Mode is a visual commentary track that provides additional insight into how the film was made, interviews with the actors, and so forth. Wrath of the Titans provides a unique experience by asking you up front whether you want to tread The Path of Men or The Path of the Gods. The Path of Men is a behind the scenes production mode that shows the usual details about the film itself, while the Gods option delves into the ways in which the mythology shaped the events of the film. There definitely is more bang for your buck here than you get in most other similar features.
- Focus Points – If you don’t want to watch the entire movie in Maximum Movie Mode, you can skip straight to the individual Focus Point featurettes from the menu.
- Storyboard Comparisons
- Deleted Scenes – Three scenes that were cut from the film, comprising around ten minutes overall. One of the three is particularly good, especially for any fans who wonder where the rest of the Greek pantheon is hiding out during Wrath of the Titans.
Wrath of the Titans is a worthy follow up to the 2010 Clash of the Titans. Although it lacks the nostalgia of its predecessor, Wrath in many ways is a better film. The influence of modern video games is apparent in Wrath of the Titans, with the narrative flow ramping to “boss fights” and then providing “leveling up” rewards along the way. Even the action itself is reminiscent of games like God of War (in fact, there’s even a “fight the god of war” element to the plot), and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Wrath of the Titans is a high flying and slick action film steeped in the mythology of ancient Greece. If the thought of watching Sam Worthington pummel a rampaging Chimera excites you, Wrath is just the film you’re looking for. Wrath of the Titans released on Blu-ray and DVD on June 26, 2012, and is in stores now.