REVIEW: 'Wrath of the Titans' a murky mess

“Wrath of the Titans” is like a shiny Mylar balloon that pops to reveal nothing inside but empty, stale air.

“Wrath of the Titans” is about some serious daddy issues. Our hero Perseus (Sam Worthington) is pestered by papa Zeus (Liam Neeson) to come to Olympus and claim his rightful place as a god. Zeus’ shunned brother and god of the underworld Hades (Ralph Fiennes), kidnaps Zeus to appease and seek favor from their imprisoned father Cronos, god of gods. Once Perseus learns of his father’s kidnapping he seeks the aid of Poseidon’s (Danny Huston) son Agenor (Toby Kebbell), who wants nothing to do with any god since his father abandoned him. Finally there’s Ares (Édgar Ramírez), the token corrupt villain, who is Zeus’s proper godly son but feels scorned since papa Zeus favors his half-human son Perseus. Perseus, Agenor and Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) must infiltrate the underworld and rescue Zeus and stop granddaddy Cronos from escaping and ending the world.

Family gatherings must be awk-ward.

Like “Clash of the Titans,” “Wrath” is a mega-budget, effects-laden fantasy. But unlike the two originals, it feels less like Greek mythology and more like a tour of a zoo featuring cheap-looking monsters. The effects are chaotic and distracting. There are featureless beasts charging the camera, incessant amounts of rock and dirt thrown about, and swells of fire, fire and more fire. The unnecessary and poor 3D conversion only makes the picture look muddy.

And, yet again, we have another amorphous fire-cloud monster seeking global domination. Didn’t we just see this Cronos character in Warner Bros. “Green Lantern” last summer? That device was a yawn then and remains one here. Actually, the Cronos character is a perfect representation of the film. It lacks definition, is over-blown and overwhelming and just not that interesting.

“Wrath” is not any worse than the 2010 installment nor is it any better. It’s just bigger and louder. There are some cool scenes though, particularly the lengthy journey through the labyrinth to enter the underworld.

Plus Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes, who seem to be oblivious to the film they’re actually in, deliver the goods. Sam Worthing again makes a very good Perseus. He’s in line to become the best action star in Hollywood. Also noteworthy is a brief but exciting performance by Bill Nighy as the crazed architect of the underworld.

Bottom line for “Wrath of the Titans:” at least skip the 3D version.