Man on a Ledge

120px-Film-stripA very swift review more for me to record the fact that I’ve seen it than anything else. I’m reaching that age where I’m looking at a film’s title – or even a trailer – and wondering whether I’ve already seen it or not. Argh.

Man On A Ledge

“That’s what’s great about this county. If you want it bad enough, you can make it back. Hmm? In this city, on this island, we don’t go to work, we go to war! And if somebody takes something from you, you take it back. And more.”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Ex-cop banged up for a diamond heist stands on a window ledge 21 floors up to help prove his innocence.

See it if you like: Crime thrillers and heist movies

Fairly enjoyable if nothing new, some nice moments and ideas and a truly nasty bad guy. It’s not going to blow your socks off, but on the other hand it’s not a waste of an evening. A perfectly slightly above-average heist movie.

Trivia point – the guy who plays the hotel valet also played the Grim Reaper in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey!

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Wrath of the Titans

A second try at this review as WordPress somehow deleted the one I’d finished last night just as I was about to post it. Damn you WordPress.

After putting the chocolate-encrusted kids to bed we checked the cinema times and found one we could catch without too much of a rush. Hence heading out to see…

Wrath of the Titans

“Follow the Navigator.”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Bad guys try to release their daddy, who will rip the universe a new one. Hero has to stop him.

See it if you like: No-brainer effects-driven fantasy fests

It annoys me how Hollywood insists on making sequels to complete messes while ignoring decent fare which is crying out for a continuation of the story. For every Conan (siring a follow-up I believe), there’s a Percy Jackson or a Vampire’s Assistant cut off in its prime. While the original version of Clash of the Titans was a standalone masterpiece, the 2010 re-working was complete crap.

Wrath is actually a little better, perhaps helped by the fact that I had low expectations. The story is simple enough – Perseus (Sam Worthington) is back and doing the dirty work of his father Zeus (Liam Neeson) again. This time, there are only a few gods left as the humans have stopped praying to them. Along with Zeus are Ares (Édgar Ramírez), Poseidon (Danny Huston) and Hades (Ralph Fiennes).

Hades hatches a plan to re-awaken their dad, Kronos, for reasons I forget but the upshot of which is that the humans will be punished by having their entire universe ripped apart. As you do if you’re a pissed-off deity who’s been shoved into captivity for a few millennia.

Helping Perseus are Agenor, the son of Poseidon (played by Toby Kebbell) and Andromeda (eye candy in the shapely form of Rosamund Pike). There’s also a wonderful turn from the ever-excellent Bill Nighy as Hephaestus, armourer to the gods.

My main problem with Clash wasn’t actually the poor acting and abysmal dialogue. It was the awful special effects which looked cartoony in places and simply didn’t work with the live-action footage into which they were embedded. They were about as realistic as Gene Kelly dancing with Jerry Mouse.

Wrath has had better luck in this area with particular credit due to the team who worked on the fire and lava effects. The major scenes at the start and end of the film are very well done with suitably huge missiles and explosions. I think even Michael Bay would nod in approval at the fireworks. Best of the monsters, in my opinion,  are the whirling conjoined nasties in the final sequence. Nice and evil and slashing about so quickly you can’t pick out any problems with them.

The plot isn’t up to much – gather three objects and combine them to form one big weapon with which to defeat the inevitable huge bad guy at the end – but it works. It’s all predictable enough, but what film isn’t these days? The characters are a decent collection, though Andromeda doesn’t add anything to the story other than a) the ability to gather an army what with being a warrior queen and b) something pretty to look at.

Don’t expect too much and you won’t be disappointed.

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Senna / Last Night (sort of)

By إبن البيطار (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsJust for a change, here’s a film and a half. I don’t mean, “Wow – that was a film and a half!”. I mean I saw a film then half of another one.


Plot-in-a-nutshell: documentary about the life and times of F1 racing legend Ayrton Senna using archive footage.

See it if you like: Formula 1. Or in fact, even if you don’t. It’s worth a watch either way.

I am not an F1 fan. I appreciate the technology and so forth, but I find the sport itself deathly dull. The only way you could make F1 more boring would be to take out all the corners. Well done, America, with your NASCAR nonsense. Seriously, an oval?

However, I really enjoyed this film. Senna was a lunatic – any racer or racing fan will tell you that. He drove cars past their limits and seemingly had no fear of coming to a fiery end. He was very much a genuine natural talent at what he did – and sadly didn’t get a chance to do it for as long as he or his fans would have wished. I’m assuming this isn’t a spoiler…

The film is made completely of edited archive footage. Home video, news broadcasts, race footage – you name it, it’s all used in there. Commentary is provided by overdubbed speech from the time or more recent interviews, all in original language with subtitles where required. It is very much a documentary but one which has been edited incredibly well, especially in terms of pace.

Our story opens in the early years, and focuses on Senna’s family life and early start in Formula 1. A large section covers his love/hate/loathe/despise relationship with Alain Prost and his rise to the top of his game.

And then we start to approach that incident. At which point director Asif Kapadia slows the pace down. We start to cover individual days… then hours. We know what’s going to happen. And it’s almost an awful feeling as we can see it looming until it hits. Just like the accident itself, swiftly and suddenly.

The whole move manages to tell a superb story without bogging things down with mawkish interviews. It’s very much seen from a Senna point of view (Prost comes off looking very much the bad guy – deservedly or not, we’ll never know) and some of the footage is incredibly engaging, in particular the scenes from the pre-race drivers’ meetings.

As I said, I’m not a fan of the sport but this is a superb example of a documentary. If the film can make you interested, even if only for a while, in something you’d otherwise not show an interest in… then that’s good film-making.

Last Night

Plot-in-a-nutshell: a seemingly happily married couple each spend a night out in different cities with a bit of “will (s)he, won’t (s)he” tension around the people they’re with.

See if if you like: being able to leave early to get dinner rather than having to sit through the whole thing.

Dear Grud, what a tedious film. There was about 20 minutes of argumentative whinging between Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington until finally they both go to different nights out – he with a woman from work (Eva Mendes) that Knightley is sure he’s banging, she with an ex that I think she was shagging while they were engaged. Or something. Frankly I’d stopped caring by that point and was spending more time looking at my watch or the insides of my eyelids than the screen.

Honestly, if I had Keira Knightley around I’d still bugger off with someone else if she acted like the spoilt little cow she comes across as in this. It wasn’t enjoyable to watch. Simply frustrating. And slow. And boring. And going nowhere by the 45 minute mark so I gave up and went home.

I came close to walking out of Pirates 4, and wish I had. I didn’t make the same mistake again.

Crap. Avoid.

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Clash of the Titans

Clash of the Titans 1440x900 Wallpaper
Clash of the Titans

“But you are not just a man.”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Perseus (Sam Worthington) is rescued from the sea as a baby by a fisherman, grows up to find out he’s the son of Zeus and has to save the world.

I settled on the 2D version of Clash of the Titans as the film times suited better. This is a hugely effects-based film, and you can spot the sections where the 3D would “enhance” things. Most of them look rather forced. Actually, most of the film is rather forced.

I’ll be fair – I saw the film at a 7pm showing having had four hours’ sleep, getting to bed at 7am that morning. This may not have helped, but my cine-going companion shared almost all of my views and she’d had a decent night’s kip. Both of us summed it up at the end with “Hmmm” and a shrug. Not what you want from an explosive action epic.

I think we’re hitting an problem with films made up predominantly of special effects. We’ve seen it all before, quite often in the trailers. The one for Clash shows the giant scorpions and the Kraken – the huge beastie from the climax. They’re impressively done… but they just don’t seem “special”. I mean, how many films have you seen over the last year with some huge CGI monster in it? I’ve seen loads.

While the effects are very well done, the overall impression of the film is pretty scrappy. I don’t know whether it’s deliberate but the giant scorpion battle scene is reminiscent of the old Harryhausen epics in more than just idea. While the monsters are somewhat better animated than the old stop-motion ones, they don’t seem to fit on the screen properly, seeming a bit washed out. I seem to remember the old chroma key techniques giving the same unwanted effect.

As has been pointed out in a load of other reviews, this is a film that was crying out for a remake with modern technology. I love the original, but it’s fair to say the animated monsters are a little dated. However, it’s far better scripted and less ostentatious than this modern effort. One bit that really tipped me against the new one was a near-throwaway moment. Perseus picks up a mechanical owl from a box and asks what it is. He’s told to just leave it. To me, that seemed more of a slap in the face to Harryhausen’s original than a homage.

Much as you can say it looks better than the 1981 film, it simply isn’t a better piece of entertainment. I think a lot of it boils down to it being far too simple. They’ve taken a masterpiece of theatre – such that the original was – and turned it into a low-brow, effect-heavy show reel.

The gods look incredibly gay (PC police – sod off) with their over-shiny armour. Except Hades who, in fairness, has some awesome effects related to his appearance – much as the same character did in the recent Percy Jackson film. Liam Neeson manages to utter a wonderfully commanding “Release the Kraken!” but otherwise, the dialogue just isn’t up to much.

I’ll finish with some dialogue from the end of the original. Theatrical? Perhaps. But isn’t that how gods should be? There is simply nothing in this updated version to compare. For more, check out the IMDB quotes page for the 1981 film. Gorgeous prose.

Zeus: Perseus has won. My son has triumphed.

Hera: A fortunate young man.

Zeus: Fortune is ally to the brave.

Thetis: What a dangerous precedent. What if there more heroes like him? What if courage and imagination became everyday mortal qualities? What will become of us?

Zeus: We would no longer be needed. But, for the moment, there is sufficient cowardice, sloth and mendacity down there on Earth to last forever.

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