Zeus, Hades, and Ares walk into a bar. They fight, they make up, the end.
No, it’s not a very engaging story.
Know what? It doesn’t matter. Wrath of the Titans is awe-inspiring spectacle of scale, size, and the gods doling out punishment. Without anything to live up to -and Ray Harryhausen is a gargantuan challenge- Wrath says “screw it,” and jumps in fire breathing demons blazing.
It’s stupid, sure. Most of it feels cast on the fly to bring this one to a close, and you have to wonder why a giant god, spawned from the heart of a volcano actually fears fire, but it’s immense. The bulk of the film is concerned with nothing else other than delivering pure visceral thrills surrounded by thin family drama, just outside of paper thin because they’re gods. Imagine the holidays with these guys…
Sam Worthington returns as Perseus, doing little to live up to the son of Zeus moniker, but he does make himself a killer fishermen. He’s called back into duty when Zeus’ other half throws a temper tantrum over being banished to eternal damnation, and only Perseus can pull off the rescue.
Joining him is a ragtag band of Hollywood summer movie misfits who exist squarely to deliver the lighthearted in the face of complete world destruction. Rosamund Pike is shoved in for the, “Oh, that’s a romance now?” ending so many of these action films succumb to, but considering Perseus just vanquished a mountain-sized monster, he can have his personal time.
Rarely does Wrath tumble into sluggishness, a brisk 90-minutes passing by without so much as blinking before another action sequence sprints into view. Ten minutes worth of credits should display just how much work went into this dazzling array of physical and computer generated sights, and it wasn’t all for naught.
Warner may have a franchise on their hands -unexpectedly for sure- one not built on any strength of story or historical beliefs, but forced action that spews blood, lava, and shattered Roman armor. There’s a lot to live up to here, a genuine thrill ride that will be nigh impossible to top short of another planetary body impeding on Earth space. As a matter of fact, that sounds awesome.
Let’s blow stuff up and do so courtesy of a rough and tumble Warner Bros. encode. Trouble spots are purely of a difficult nature, namely a hearty grain structure that turns a little mushy when battling fog or smoke. The AVC encode bites and claws, but comes away mostly unscathed. Those flickers of problems are whisked away with a mere edit, and quickly forgotten.
Color timing matches the original remake (that’s a term now) with a barren, earthy facade that drains primaries for warmth in brown deserts. Interiors are basked with much the same palette, but resurrected to astound with brilliant oranges brought out from flowing lava. Those oranges will batter flesh tones, but here there’s at least a source. The landscape doesn’t offer much reprieve from the sunlight, although it’s still no excuse for backing it with teal on occasion.
It’s hard to hold much against this one though, pushing visuals on a ridiculous scale with pitch-perfect definition. Resolute sharpness is a characteristic of nearly every shot, short of those where intentional focus may wane. Scenes that glide over landscapes are nothing short of a marvel, and close-ups are dramatically intense. Visual effects dazzle in their texture, and no matter the complexity of the shot (or the level of motion), integrity if maintained.
Heated not just with oranges but with contrast, Wrath feels bright, not to mention expensive. Interior rooms, including an underground labyrinth with twisting corridors, push forward with enriching, consistent black levels. It’s a marvelous piece of digital encoding, made all the more special by the amount of spectacle on screen.
Perseus is battling the Chimera when this disc reveals how special it is sonically. He has the beast roped and on fire when the camera switches to a Worthington close-up. The flames don’t sit still in the rears, but push back and forth between the channels to keep the motion alive. That’s great sound design, keeping the action moving even if the visuals are not there to represent it.
The endless spectacle doesn’t end. The mega-god Kronos rumbles and buckles the soundfield when he speaks, doubly so for when he moves. It’s a rockier bass than say, when the gods themselves tussle. Their fists hit with a deep, powerful burst of LFE activity making them superior even in their basic human forms.
Every action scene will pursue something special, whether that’s the cyclops smashing up the forest (with both LFE and pristine highs) or the underground beginning to trap the heroes between concrete edges. The entire world shakes during the awesome finale, with thunder, exploding mountains, and searing fire traveling past the viewer. It’s a shock to the system you won’t regret.
Warner’s Maximum Movie Mode splits into two tracks (for the first time?), one detailing the mythology, the other the creation of the film. What starts off as a cheesy introduction from Worthington and Liam Neeson turns into a solid exploration of the behind-the-scenes happenings. The Focus Points, the pre-selected important bits from the MMM, are 21-minutes for the filmmaking, a dozen for the mythos. The final extra is a series of three deleted scenes that push near the 11-minute mark.