It's hard to believe the entire world was demanding to see Sam Worthington star in another mangled re-imagining of Greek mythology. But we were. We needed a sequel to one of the more convoluted and unmemorable blockbusters in recent cinematic history, and we got one. Whew! I mean, we're still waiting for our sequel to Master and Commander, but at least we got Wrath of the Titans!
I know. Snark and sarcasm is easy, and seems to be the natural reaction to a big release like this. Let me try a little something called "hope and optimism" and think of some reasons – five whole reasons! – why Wrath of the Titans will be a superior sequel to the original remake-of-a-film-that-wasn't-all-that-incredible-to-begin-with.
Argh. There I go again. No, I've got it out of my system now.
1. Edgar Ramirez. Edgar Ramirez. Edgar Ramirez.
I could fill all five entries on this list with Edgar Ramirez, but that would be a pretty dull (if easy on the eyes) read. So, I shall resist and merely place him here at the top like the shining, savage diamond that he is. He tore up the screen in Carlos, a movie one actually wishes was longer just so you could watch Ramirez for three or four more hours. He deserves bigger roles in Oscar-baiting films, and flashy popcorn flicks, and one hopes Wrath of the Titans leads to that. If it doesn't, well, at least we got one. At any rate, I can't think of a better Ares than the man who was The Jackal.
2. Rosamund Pike as a lean, mean, gladiatrix queen.
When I saw the trailer for Wrath of the Titans, I thought Rosamund Pike was playing one of the more spear happy Greek goddesses. Surely she was Athena, Goddess of War and Wisdom! Or perhaps Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt! Given that this was the 21st century (and she is a beautiful blonde), maybe she was some kind of re-imagined, kill happy Aphrodite. But no. She's actually Queen Andromeda, who appeared in the first film – true to Greek mythology, I should add -- as a lovely lass who her mom bragged about too much, and was nearly sacrificed to the Kraken. She wanted to marry Perseus (as she did in the original myth and movie), but he declined this time around for humble reasons.
Now Andromeda is back for more, and played by Pike. In the 10(!) years that have passed since Clash, Andromeda has proved she's capable of going it all alone in Argos, including all things military. I like that, and I'm looking forward to seeing Pike (a bit typecast as The Pretty Girl of late) in American action movie mode. And a single, sword swinging lady will be a nice follow-up to Katniss, no?
3. The plot promises to be less convoluted.
Can you summarize Clash of the Titans? I can't. Humans declared war on the gods, but not really, it was just one cult. There were a bunch of monsters, one of them was Perseus' stepdad, Perseus fought a lot of things, and something something Hades was behind it all something. Wrath promises a plot that can be easily summed up in the trailer: the Titans have escaped, the gods are dying, and Perseus has to help. Naturally, Hades is involved (because he is Voldemort) and there are still a lot of monsters, but there don't seem to be as many kings, queens, warriors, monster hunters, conspiracies and sad princesses this time around.
4. They've embraced the camp
If there was one complaint many had about Clash, it was the lack of humor or wit. Everyone took it so seriously. We generally like our sword-and-sandal bombast to be served with a bit of a wink, otherwise that it becomes turgid and boring. (Even Gladiator managed a bit of sleaze and smarm in the right spots.) Ralph Fiennes looks to be sneering and rolling his eyes in every other frame of Wrath, which is promising, and Sam Worthington has gone the Gerard "screams a lot" Butler route instead of trying to be stoic and Shakespearean. If the whole movie is full of those "COME ON! What are you waiting for?!" moments, I'll eat it up with a spoon. And so will you.
5. Better monsters, better effects, better set pieces.
Titans had a lot of monsters, but they weren't particularly interesting ones. Calibos looked like a rejected Orc from Lord of the Rings. The Kraken couldn't hold a candle to Davy Jones' pet in Pirates of the Caribbean. The Stygian witches looked like a poor man's Guillermo Del Toro design, and the Djinn screamed "We saw 300 and made these!" Medusa was undone by cheap CG ... and so on.
Wrath promises to have better looking monsters, for one. Sure, a lot of it looks like nondescript woolly things with teeth, but at least they might be better rendered. The Cyclops looks better than all the CG in Clash, and that four-armed thing seems like it might be fun in a fight. Also, it seems the Balrog from Fellowship stops by for wine and a gyros, and I can get behind that.
Clash was full of muddled sword fights and leaps. If you make a film that's nothing but pulpy action, more power to you, but you better make it clean, sharp, and exciting. Wrath actually seems to have stripped it down to an eye and butt pleasing level. Perseus' showdown with that chained beast looks fun ("What are you waiting for?!"), and I love the idea of that Greek-temple-sliding-over-the-heroes-head sequence. It could end up being a blurry, shaky-cam'd bunch of pixels, but I will hold out hope, because I've never seen someone pulled through Ionic columns and Doric architraves before. And I'd like to!
Oh darn it, Wrath of the Titans, there is plenty of reasons for you to exist ... now don't waste them!