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Wrath of the Titans

Much like its Greek mythological source material, Wrath of the Titans is light on dramatic characterization, sticking to blunt moral lessons and fantastical battles to tell its epic tale. That's perfectly acceptable for its 100 minute run time, in which director Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles) unleashes an eclectic hoard of monsters upon his gruff demigod hero, Perseus. The creature design is jagged, gnarly and exaggerated, not unlike a twelve-year-old's sugar high-induced crayon creations — which is perfect, as Wrath is tailor made to entertain and enamor that slice of the population.

Clash of the Titans star Sam Worthington once again slips on the sandals to take on a not-quite-based-on-a-myth adventure, a mission that pits Perseus against the greatest force in the universe: Kronos, formally-incarcerated father of the Gods. A few years after his last adventure, Perseus is grieving for his deceased wife and caring for their lone son, but a visit from Zeus (Liam Neeson) alerts the warrior to a task even more urgent than his current seabass fishing gig. Irked that the whole Kraken thing didn't work out, Hades (Ralph Fiennes), with the help of Zeus' disaffected son Ares (Edgar Ramirez), is preparing to unleash Kronos — and only Perseus has the required machismo to stop him. But Perseus enjoys the simple life, and brushes off Zeus, forcing the head deity to take matters into his own hands…just as Hades and Ares planned. The diabolical duo capture Zeus and, having no one else to turn to, Perseus proceeds into battle.

The actual reasoning for all the goings on in Wrath of the Titans tend to drift into the mystical realm of convolution, but the ensemble and Liebesman's visual, visceral directing techniques keep the messy script speeding along. As soon as one starts wondering why Perseus would ever need to hook up with battle-ready Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) or Poseiden's navigator son Agenor (Toby Kebbell), Liebesman and writers Dan Mazeu and David Johnson throw in another bombastic set piece, another three-headed, four-armed, 10,000-fanged monstrosity on screen. Perseus' journey pits him against a fire-breathing Chimera, a set of Cyclopses, a shifting labyrinth (complete with Minotaur) and all the dangers that come with Hell itself. The sequences have all the suspense of an action figure sandbox brawl, but on a towering IMAX screen, they're geeky fun. If only the filler material was a bit more logical and interesting, the final product would be the slightest bit memorable.

Liebesman reaps the best performances he possibly can from Wrath's silly formula, Worthington again proves himself a charismatic, underrated leading man. As the main trio of Gods, Neeson, Fiennes and Ramirez completely acknowledge how goofy shooting lightning bolts out of their hands must look on screen, but they own it with campy fun tones. But the film's overwhelming CG spectacle suffocates the glimmer of great acting, opting for slice-and-dice battle scenes over ridiculous (and fun) epic speak nonsense. If a movie has Liam Neeson as the top God, it shouldn't chain him up in molten lava shackles for a majority of the time.

Wrath of the Titans is a non-offensive superhero movie treatment of classic heroes that feels more like an exercise in 3D monster modeling than filmmaking. Its 3D makeover never helps the creatures or Perseus pop, turning Wrath into an even muddier affair than the single-planed alternative (although, unlike Clash of the Titans, you won't have 3D shaky-cam blur burned directly into your retinas). The movie reaches for that child sense of wonderment, but instead, cranks out a picture that may not even hold a child's attention.

What do you think? Tell Matt Patches directly on Twitter @misterpatches and read more of his reviews on Rotten Tomatoes! rated this film 2 1/2 stars.