When gods and demigods squabble, much of ancient Greece is obliterated.
Every family has its squabbles, but when the relatives are a race of powerful deities, things can get out of hand. "Wrath of the Titans" imagines a multigenerational tag-team match between the half-human demigod Perseus (Sam Worthington), his feuding father, Zeus (Liam Neeson), and uncle Hades (Ralph Fiennes), and their father, the primordial titan Kronos (a mountain-sized humanoid mass of special-effects smoke and lava).
Though the film shortchanges us on the promise of its title, providing only one titan, it is overkill in most other regards. Having limbered up by demolishing Southern California in "Battle: Los Angeles," director Jonathan Liebesman obliterates ancient Greece in a chain of combat and action scenes of thermonuclear proportions.
Like Michael Corleone in "Godfather III," just when Perseus thinks he's out of the family business, he gets pulled back in. Having defeated the fearsome sea monster Kraken in "Clash of the Titans," he has downscaled to a modest life in retirement as a fisherman. His relationship with his father is frosty.
You know how it is with gods. They're distant, judgmental, over-entitled and demand a constant stream of tribute. Additionally, Zeus forced himself on Perseus' mother and stiffed her on child support. So when Neeson appears in full-bearded Gandalf/Dumbledore drag to beg for his son's aid in the looming struggle, Perseus sulks. His real motive for wading into the crisis in heaven is that the gods' strife is causing awful collateral damage on Earth. Eruptions, explosions, earthquakes. They could have had a good joke here with an upheaval knocking the arms off the Venus de Milo, but you can't have everything.
Since Perseus is half-divine, he is susceptible to flattery. Zeus informs him that "being half human makes you stronger than a god," and warns that when men cease to believe, their gods disappear. Not wanting half of himself to vanish, and hoping to impress comely, blue-eyed warrior queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike), he re-enlists, flying into battle on his winged horse.
Plot summary: Bang boom smash wallop. There is a Cyclops battle, a minotaur battle, attacks by creatures like harpies and a mad dash through the hell-prison Tartarus, which ceaselessly reforms itself like a giant limestone Rubik's cube.
Danny Huston aims for gravitas and sincerity in his portrayal of Poseidon. As Ares, Edgar Ramirez ("Carlos the Jackal") scowls mightily.
Wily Bill Nighy, seeing this cheese-fest for what it is, dons the craziest wig and chin whiskers this side of a ZZ Top tribute band and camps it up as Hephaestus, the armorer of the gods.
Worthington hasn't proved himself to be much of an actor outside of James Cameron movies, and Cameron got a good performance out of Tom Arnold. Here Worthington speaks in his native Australian drawl and does the usual run/punch/grimace action-hero routine well enough.
Neeson and his "Schindler's List" co-star Fiennes deserve some sort of award simply for being able to look at each other in their togas and not burst into laughter. To utter lines like, "Ares, my son" and not crack up is an achievement.