To update the old saying: "3D fool me once, shame on you; 3D fool me twice, shame on me."
Clash of the Titans was a nearly humorless, overly digitized remake of a piece of sword-and-sorcery cheese from the 1980s, an inoffensive big-budget trifle whose biggest sin was a post-production conversion to 3D.
The Titans sequel wasn't converted, so the 3D is a lot better. And the director of Battle Los Angeles and the screenwriters give it a lighter touch, a bit of mythic whimsy amongst the muddle about gods, demigods, the father of gods and the end of the age of gods.
In a boulder-strewn Greek past of volcanoes but no trees, Perseus (Sam Worthington, stoic as ever) is living the life of a village fisherman and single dad to Helius (John Bell). The kid is growing up without religion, without his grandpa. That's because Perseus knows "There's no such thing as 'good gods,'" and his dad, Zeus (Liam Neeson, giving this more than it deserves), is entirely too busy for grandparenting.
Never miss a local story.
He's too busy narrating.
"The time of the gods is ending," Zeus narrates.
Hades (Ralph Fiennes, always interesting) aims to hasten that. "You're sweating like a human, brother," Hades purrs. "Next, it'll be tears."
With another son of Zeus, Ares (Edgar Ramirez), the god of war, Hades traps Zeus in the underworld. Perseus must round up a team and go get 'em, before god of gods Kronos cracks free, and gods and men are drowned in a sea of lava.
First among them is Andromeda, a vision in blond hair and armor played by Rosamund Pike. Bill Nighy steals the movie as Hephaestus, blacksmith and armorer to the gods. He makes the old tinkerer a crackpot who carries on conversations with himself, Gollum-style.
Then there's the disreputable son of Poseidon, "The Navigator" Agenor, given a bemused spin by Toby Kebbell. He's a reluctant recruit.
"Would you do me a favor?" he asks Perseus. "Go to Hell."
So we know where this is going, and we know who'll be in the final brawl. But director Jonathan Liebesman and company keep this stripped down (few gods, not too much dialogue) and manage a few surprises and a little fun on the trip. They even trot out Danny Huston as Poseidon, in a beard and get-up that remind us that his dad, John Huston, once played Noah on the big screen.
Yes, this Titans is going to you-know-where. At least this one manages to make the 3-D ride worth the destination.