I'm not sure the world was clamoring for a sequel to the 2010 hit "Clash of the Titans."

Yet here we are with "Wrath of the Titans," a follow-up that couldn't be any more vanilla if it tried. It's the kind of bland film where every aspect of the production feels like it is on autopilot.

Sam Worthington, whose career probably needs "Avatar 2" in the worst way right now, returns as Perseus - the half human son of Zeus (Liam Neeson) who has retreated to the simple life as a fisherman raising his young son.

When Zeus is captured by Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Ares (Edgar Martinez), part of a deal to allow Kronos to re-ascend to power, Perseus sets out on a quest through the underworld to save his father - and humanity.

"Wrath of the Titans" might well be one of the more lackluster big-budget films in recent memory. Everything about it feels like a cash grab - from the lifeless performances from the cast to cheesy dialogue to the tacked-on 3-D format and bland CGI effects.

Director Jonathan Liebesman took a lot of heat for his previous film, "Battle: Los Angeles," but this feels even more downtrodden and relentless - a mindless bore.

There are a couple of fleeting moments that are mildly entertaining. A brief battle with giant Cyclops is kind of fun, and the first few moments in the underworld are promising.

But it quickly falls back into the predictable mediocre pattern, pushing "Wrath of the Titans" back into its lifeless daze.

To its credit, "Wrath of the Titans" doesn't leave much open for a third installment. That's probably a good idea, because this is a franchise that is well past its shelf life.

DVD dandy of the week

This week's dandy is "Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life" (B+) - another quality documentary from director Werner Herzog.

The fan behind "Grizzly Man" has shown a keen eye and an ability to go deep inside a story, providing different insight and deep retrospective.

He does it again in his latest film, which takes a firm case against the death penalty, while also showing the tragic correlation of poverty and crime.

Herzog's film centers on Michael Perry and Jason Burkett, two Texas teens who were implicated in the deaths of three people over an automobile. Perry was convicted of triple homicide and interviewed for the film eight days before he was executed. Burkett received a life sentence for his involvement, claiming he had nothing to do with the murders. (Perry, on the other hand, claims Burkett murdered the three people and he did nothing.)

Their interviews are compelling enough, but where Herzog's film really soars is his interviews with police officers, the victims' families and Burkett's father - also serving a life sentence in prison.

It's those moments where I was really moved. This is a story for the innocent bystanders and how their lives are forever changed by something as trivial as an automobile. The strongest scene in the film involves Burkett's father - telling how he pleaded for his son's life to be spared during sentencing. The father talks about his regret, being a career criminal in and out of jail who was never there for his son and how it may have been part of the reason why Jason wound up the way he did.

Burkett's father also talks about the worst moment of his life, riding to prison handcuffed to his son. It's these moments that illustrate the endless cycle of crime and how class structure can contribute to that cycle.

Herzog also makes strong arguments against the death penalty that, even if you don't agree, will have you thinking long after the movie has ended.

"Into the Abyss" is rated PG-13 for mature thematic material and some disturbing images, and will be available Tuesday on DVD.

- To get sportswriter/movie reviewer Micheal Compton's up-to-the minute thoughts on all things movies, visit his blog at mcompton.wordpress.com or his Twitter page at twitter.com/mcompton428. You can also email him at mcompton@bgdailynews.com.

 

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