Clash of the Titans

Wrath of the Titans

Sam Worthington (Man on a Ledge) definitely has my attention.  He’s not the most handsome, and he’s not the best actor, but I like him.  I think Clash of the Titans is what did it for me.  Too bad the much-anticipated sequel was not as effective.  When we first met Perseus, he was totally unaware of his godly heritage.  Clash worked because it gave us a hero who was called to save humanity while realizing his true destiny.  It’s literally the stuff stories are made of.  I enjoyed the depiction of the iconic Greek gods, and the story was a good one.  Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about Wrath of the Titans.  It wasn’t a bad movie, but it was not as good as the first.

This time around, the gods of Mt. Olympus are in dire straits.  They derive some of their power and strength from humanity, through prayer and adulation.  Maybe things are going pretty well for mankind, because people haven’t been calling on the gods much lately.  Thus, they are getting weaker and vulnerable to attack.  You’ll recall from the first movie that god of the underworld Hades has a beef with his brothers Zeus and Poseidon.  I’d be pissed if my siblings ruled the heavens and the sea while I was sent to hell too.  Anyway, Hades is still ticked off.  Now that the gods are getting weaker, they’re ripe for the taking.  Hades, with the help of Zeus’ son Ares, god of war, is plotting to unleash the titans from their prison so they will destroy their traitorous offspring.  The titans gave rise to the gods, who in turn defeated them. Confusing stuff if you don’t remember the mythology, and my memory is a little rusty.  Anyway, Hades kidnaps Zeus and takes him to the underworld to drain his remaining power and release the titans.  His godly brethren are useless, so Zeus must once again call on Perseus, the demi-god and reluctant hero.  Now with a boy of his own, Perseus is adored by his countrymen but lives the simple life of a fisherman.  He must once again summon his inner greatness and rise to the occasion, with the help of his trusty steed Pegasus.

I’ll start with the good.  The movie was exciting and entertaining. I saw it in 3D, which was cool.  I’m kinda over the whole 3D thing though.  Unless it’s a dope ass epic movie like Avatar, I’m usually underwhelmed by it.  Unfortunately, Wrath of the Titans failed to live up to its predecessor because it lacked a compelling storyline and was comprised of weak characters.  Perseus is often told that being only half god is not a bad thing.  He is told that he possesses all the best of humanity and the gods.  My issue with his character was that this is not his first time at the rodeo.  That was the last movie.  Perseus, you don’t know what you’re doing yet? You saved the world before; you released the MF kraken – and you’re still afraid?  That just didn’t work for me.  Perseus should just be more…special.  I also found aspects of the storyline to be implausible, whether it was a timely reconciliation here, or a transparent betrayal there. *yawn*.  Anyone who saw Clash of the Titans probably liked it and would be amenable to the sequel.  Be forewarned, you may be mildly disappointed.  Wait for Netflix.  Grade: C+

Man on a Ledge

Lots of factors play into my decision whether or not to see a particular movie.  Sometimes the story itself looks intriguing, like Limitless or the recent Chronicle.  Other times, it’s the director that draws me in.  I’ll go see an M. Night Shyamalan movie just off GP, because I’m a fan.  More often than not though, it’s the cast that attracts me.  I like Sam Worthington (Avatar, Clash of the Titans), so when I belatedly heard about Man on a Ledge, I didn’t need much convincing.

Worthington stars as Nick Cassidy, a former police officer wrongly convicted of stealing a priceless gem from Wall Street titan David Englander, played by a scary-looking Ed Harris (Appaloosa).  Englander framed Cassidy, who was disgraced after being sentenced to prison.  After being denied parole, Nick decides to take desperate action to clear his name.  I won’t reveal the elaborate ruse that takes place, but lets just say that he devises a plan to escape from prison and soon he’s a fugitive.  Everything that happens next is all part of a carefully designed plan to exonerate Nick while finding out which other cops on the force helped set him up with Englander.  He enlists the help of Officer Lydia Mercer, (Elizabeth Banks, The Next Three Days) who is called in to talk him off the ledge.  Ah, the ledge.  Why is Nick on the ledge, and how can that help him clear his name?  Well, if I told you all that I’d spoil the movie wouldn’t I?  While Nick is on the ledge he forms a cautious bond with Mercer.  A recent mistake in the course of duty has caused her to lose favor with her peers on the force, just as Nick did when he went to prison.  This bond proves useful, because when the you-know-what hits the fan, Mercer is Nick’s only ally.

I think a lot of people are reluctant to see this movie because it seems familiar, or one note.  It’s a little smarter than that though.  It was relatively suspenseful throughout, and certain elements of the movie made it a solid caper.  Worthington let his natural Australian accent creep in a few times, but other than that he gave an earnest performance as the unlikely villain turned hero.  Anthony Mackie (The Adjustment Bureau) and Edward Burns also make appearances.  I wasn’t blown away by any one particular performance, but this wasn’t that kind of movie.  It was more plot-driven than character-driven, though the cast was more than capable.  I enjoyed the way it all unfolded, and by the time it’s over we see that Nick had a very strategic plan in place, using his law enforcement experience to predict everyone else’s moves.  The movie even offers a slight commentary on society (or at least jaded New Yorkers) by showing the perverse fascination with which passersby watch Nick, rooting for him to jump.  Was this movie deep and twisty like The Usual Suspects or as clever as Inside Man?  Of course not, but sometimes a distant second is good enough.  You won’t be blown away, but you won’t be disappointed either.  Wow. I just read the previous sentence and that was a lukewarm endorsement LOL. I’ll put it in better terms: Grade B