Louis Leterrier’s 2010 Clash of the Titans remake was a pinnacle in will-this-do multiplex joylessness, clad as it was in mangy post-converted 3D and narrated by Gemma Arterton with all the Sloaney enthusiasm of a Peter Jones cashier ringing up your purchases. A sequel seemed about as uncalled-for as could reasonably be said of a film that grossed £300 million worldwide, yet here it is, with Sam Worthington’s Aussie-accented demigod Perseus and his beardy superiors, Zeus (Liam Neeson) and Hades (Ralph Fiennes), back to pin Greek mythology to the ground and punch the sense right out of it.
Except this time, in a turn of events more surprising than the script, the results are rather good. Replacing Leterrier with South African journeyman Jonathan Liebesman has righted a world of wrongs: crisper effects, tighter pacing and more inspired casting add up to a sword-and-sandals romp that betters not only its predecessor but even the 1981 original Clash of the Titans for engaging and boyish silliness. When Bill Nighy, a welcome addition as shabby god-turned-guide Hephaestus, dryly recalls that Perseus ‘released the Kraken and all that,’ you sense that everyone involved holds the 2010 film in contempt.
A decade older, Perseus has hung up his battle skirt and grown out his fetchingly anachronistic crewcut to live a simple fisherman’s life. But the gods are restless: threatened with losing his immortality, Zeus is again at war, this time with his swarthy turncoat son, Ares (Edgar Ramírez). Cue Perseus picking up his rusty sword, mounting his wing’ed steed and joining forces with Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike, a feisty upgrade from Arterton in the love-interest stakes) and surly sidekick Agenor (the excellent Toby Kebbell) to kick all kinds of godly ass. The ensuing good-natured idiocy is tempered with wit and self-awareness: the prospect of further additions to this franchise no longer sounds like divine punishment. Guy Lodge