Wrath of the Titans (2012)
Directed by: Jonathon Liebesman
Running time: 99 minutes
You know what is really awesome? The 2005 PlayStation 2 game God of War. It was an ancient Greek story about a Spartan warrior named Kratos who was once the right hand of Ares, the god of war. After he was manipulated by Ares into murdering his family, thus being free of (as Ares sees it) his hindering humanity, Kratos is sent into exile and vows to one day punish Ares for what he has done. Plagued by the nightmares of murdering his family, Kratos turns to the goddess Athena who tells him that if he serves her then he shall be forgiven for all his sins. In response to his sister using his prized weapon, Ares wages war on the city of Athens. Zeus has forbidden any of the gods to directly harm each other as a means to stem conflict between them, so Athena asks one final taks of Kratos: to kill the god who stole everything from him. But Kratos is merely a man (albeit revealed to be the son of Zeus later on) and Ares is a god, standing some one hundred metres tall! So the only way for Kratos to defeat him is to find Pandora’s Box, the ultimate weapon created by the three brothers Zeus, Poseidon and Hades. The quest is huge, the hero incredibly flawed due to his selfish hatred for Ares clouding his judgement when the lives of all of Athens hangs in the balance. What’s more, it is brutal and harsh, just as the real Greek myths of old (forgive the contradiction).
The reason I bring up this masterpiece of entertainment is that there has never been a movie made of God of War, although it has been “discussed” many times now. But when Clash of the Titans was released in 2010, and now Wrath of the Titans in 2012, I was hoping that perhaps I had found my substitute. While in many ways these films have tried to recreate the mythic stories of ancient Greece, they don’t quite get there. Not 100%.
As you may have gathered, Now Showing this week is Wrath of the Titans, directed by Jonathon Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles). Following the events of Clash of the Titans (that to be honest, no one really remembers), Perseus (Sam Worthington) is trying to live a normal life with his son and away from the gods of Olympus. However, Hades and Ares have a plan to unleash the inprisoned titan Cronos, a gigantic beast and father of Hades, Zeus and Poseidon, so as he can grant them continued immortality in this world where the gods are no longer prayed to. See, apparently if no one prays to the gods, they start to die rather then them just coming to Earth and showing people that they still need to appease them or they die like in the good old days. Anyway, Zeus gets captured by Hades and Perseus must go save him before Cronos can rise.
Let me start by saying that if there were to be a movie made of God of War, I would want it to look like Wrath of the Titans. Mostly. I mean, it has the harshness down pat, with the world being desolate and rough, and Hades (the realm of the dead, not the god) looking very dark and sinister and almost endless; so I think visually it’s hit the nail on the head. The only visual problem I have is that of some of the characters. Especially the gods! If you look at how the gods were believed to look in the ancient statues of Greece, you’d see that all the gods were babes! Zeus may have had white hair and a flowing beard, but he had an eight pack to be reckoned with. All the female gods (which are abscent in the film) were the perfect images of female beauty. Now I love Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes but neither of them fit the description I just gave. It’s true Hades was never really seen as beautiful, but Zeus, Ares and Poseidon were. Essentially the gods were seen as (visually, not behaviourally) the perfect beings, and they do not look as such in this film.
The action of the film is a highlight, which I’m certain is not a surprise. What these films lack in plot and deep characters, they make for in epic action scenes. The monsters that are faced are awesome and well realised, however the biggest problem of the action scenes is Perseus himself. It just never felt like, maybe bar one or two instances, that he had the strength of a demi-god or was indeed special at all. He was often fumbling around, only catching a lucky break in order to slay the beasts. He needed to do things that other humans couldn’t, such as resist the force of something really heavy or pull something incedibly strong down to it’s knees. Kratos in God of War manages to throw the entire Colossus of Rhodes at one point, and he is a made up Greek hero! The one rule with ancient Greece is it needs to be epic!
So I suppose you’re wondering what I actually did enjoy about this film? Well, the only real answer I can give to that is that inspite of it’s fairly ordinary script and character depth, I mainly enjoyed it because I have a massive hard on for anything to do with Greek mythology. I love Greek myths, with their heroes who are so much larger than life that they can do the illogical; their gods that actually make sense instead of the gods we believe in today; it’s all such a rich universe to set foot in. So when the film mentioned the pits of Tartarus, or Cronos, or Hades disgruntlement for being banished to guard the Underworld, then I got really excited because I knew what they were talking about. But I can imagine someone who isn’t too familiar with Greek mythology to simply be bored and a tad confused as to what was happening.
I guess then that Wrath of the Titans is only an enjoyable film if you’re me, or a mythology professor. Probably more me though since I can’t imagine a mythology professor enjoying the film twisting the actual mythos and also having a bad script and storyline. So I think we need to make a Greek movie where everything is as it is in the stories. The hero can hold his breath underwater indefinitely, or he can throw a ten metre tall cyclops over his shoulder. The gods aren’t these wise old mystics but instead are the beautiful, debaucherous creatures of the ancient times. But, can it please just be a God of War film? Nothing would please me more than to see Kratos kicking the ass of everything mythology has to throw at him!
See you next time!