Inception

Jul. 20th, 2010 01:59 pm
chrisbrad: Red Sox (Default)

Simply put, Inception is a brilliant mind-fuck. A clusterfuck of genius, if you will. A fucking great movie.

At its heart, the film is about Dom Cobb, a man who is a "dream thief." His character completes extractions in which he and his team steal valuable secrets from deep within the subconscious of his marks during the dream state. The key here is that the dream may not be that of the mark, but instead may be the dream of a member of his team (where they have more control) making the mark more vulnerable. Cobb’s talent has made him and his team the best in the world of corporate espionage. It has also, we learn, made him a fugitive, keeping Cobb from his children.

After failing an initial extraction of intel from the mind of the opening mark, Saito, Cobb is offered a chance at redemption by Saito himself. He wants Cobb to perform inception --- the action of placing an idea in the mind of a target rather than stealing an idea. Saito promises that this job could give Cobb his life back but only if he can accomplish the task.

Cobb and his team retreat to Paris where a new architect is found. The architect literally creates the dreams. Meanwhile, Cobb exits to Africa to search for Eames, the forger. The forger is the person who can emulate any subconscious projection, basically becoming someone the mark trusts.

During preparation, we learn that Cobb has a deep, dark secret. Literally. Team members discover Mal, Cobb's dead wife, lurking in the dream world and causing chaos at every turn.  We eventually discover that the dream world of Cobb's is actually a set of memories, something Cobb urges the others to avoid.

Eventually, the team hits the mark and begins to go through multiple levels of the dream world, building up to a crescendo of brain-pounding scenes --- anti-gravity fights, "kicks," armed members of the subconscious, explosions, shoot-outs, you name it. We also learn Cobb's true secret about his wife and her death.

In the end we are left with a big question, though, as to the reality of the final scene. After two and a half hours of pulse-pounding action and riveting discoveries, the blank canvas we see just before the credits is brilliant. Audience, interpret!

So, what was the best thing about the film? The acting. DiCaprio and Gordon-Levitt hit it out of the park. Ellen Page is also very noteworthy. This movie is deep so we are introduced to these completely foreign concepts via her character. As things are explained to her, they are explained to us. Perhaps my favorite actor was Tom Hardy, playing Eames, the forger.  He is the comic-relief, so to say. But it's his scenes where he and Joseph Gordon-Levitt riff off one another that capture a fun, adventurous spirit.

Another amazing aspect of this film are the effects. The trailer let us see a lot of amazing sprinkles of CGI goodness, but it was just the beginning. The city folding in on itself was inspired. But it was the zero-gravity hotel fight that will live on for most viewers.

The screenplay is also top-notch. It wasn't just a color-by-numbers plot.  Inception was a carefully crafted masterpiece of time-honored thematic elements woven together to make a complete story. Every character has a purpose. Every shot has a rhyme. Every cut has a reason.After some reflection, it is clear to me that Inception is a masterpiece of storytelling.

Overall, this is a top-notch, high-caliber film. In fact, I dare say Inception is the best film I have seen since There Will Be Blood, more than two years ago.

I give Inception an A. Fucking A! (10/10)

Legion

Jan. 25th, 2010 05:06 pm
chrisbrad: Red Sox (Default)
I will write about the film Legion at length at some point. But right now I can only say a few words.

Legion was terrible. Awful. Seriously, it was bad.

Avoid it at all costs. See it at your own peril.

Did I mention it was horrible?

A 1 out of 10 (the 1 point for the kick-ass old woman).

Avatar

Jan. 21st, 2010 07:03 am
chrisbrad: Red Sox (Default)

Where do I begin?

How about what I liked about the film...

I enjoyed the artistry of Avatar. The scenery was beautiful and awe-inspiring. It combined what we know about our own surroundings and filled it in with alien flora and fauna. Kudos to the designers of the planet Pandora.

I also enjoyed the tech of the film. While there were many times when the "reality" of the Na'vi was lost on me, there were some moments when the blue people felt real. Looked real. Were real. And that means a lot. Too often, CGI characters feel out of place. But in a film like Avatar where CGI characters are not just in the film but rather the focus of the film, the characters were real enough to not be distracting. Again, kudos to those who developed the tech of the film.

Lastly, and that should let you know where I am going in this review, I enjoyed the use of 3-D. All too often, 3-D is used as a gimmick. But Avatar used 3-D to create a larger world, a Pandora that needs more than the big screen. The images did not just pop, they exploded at moments. Plus, the glasses did not bother me (a guy who already wears glasses).

But that is all the good I can say about Avatar.

The story was radical.

The big, bad, militaristic white man took on the defenseless natives. Boring. Been there, done that. How many more anti-white, anti-man films do I need to sit through. I get it Hollywood! I should be ashamed I am who I am.

Worse, though, was the extreme radical view of environmentalism that the film pushes. The Na'vi aren't just tree-huggers (that would have been a little more tolerable). No, the Na'vi worship nature. Literally. Nature takes on the roles of deity and power. Nature and the environment take on the tones and aspects of religion. And, in today's world where a cadre of scientists, politicians, and the extreme arm of the Left view environmentalism as a psuedo-religion, this radical view was out of place.  (Note: This is not a knock on those who do worship nature, rather a knock on the pushy thematic slant of the film.)

But the negatives did not stop there. The story was not original. The whole movie  had a deja vu feel.

There was also the issue with the stupidity of the flick.

Unobtanium? Really?
Being able to train the ONE critter on the planet that can save them all? Really?
Having the Na'vi think the limp, un-manned bodies of the avatars were just an inconvenience? Really?
The same ruthless military dude we've seen a million other times? Really?
Hey, let's pick up a pod and go somewhere else without being noticed? Really?

It was all infuriating.

Overall,  I give Avatar a 2 out of 10.

Sadly, Avatar is on its way to being the biggest film of all-time. And worse, it may very well be on its way to winning a huge number of Oscars (including Best Pic). Grr,,,

DAMN THE NA'VI.
DAMN AVATAR!
 

chrisbrad: Red Sox (Default)

How do I even begin?

I finally caught a screening of Sherlock Homes the other day. I had been eagerly awaiting this since I learned that director Guy Ritchie (of Snatch and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels fame) was attached to the project. Add Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law to this mix and, well, how could it be a miss?

But it was more than a miss. It was a mess.

The film was downright boring. I nearly dozed off more than once.

The story fell flat. The mystery was bland at best.

I give kudos to the actors. They did an amazing job with such a lackluster source material. But color me unimpressed with everything else.

The worst part had to be the set-up for the inevitable sequel. When the set-up for the next film in the series is more interesting than the film you just saw, that is a red flag. And Sherlock Holmes had plenty of those.

I give it a 4 out of 10. And I am being nice.

Here's to hoping the boredom is erased and the mess is fixed for Sherlock Homes 2: Moriarty.

chrisbrad: Red Sox (Default)
So, the behemoth that is Stephen King’s “Under the Dome” has finally ended. At least for me.

I freely admit that the first “chapters” of the book were completely compelling. The description of the Dome appearing out of thin air and the immediate consequences gave me, Constant Reader, a feeling of relief. Sometimes King is able to pull me in immediately (as he did here), but other times the opening of his novels are sluggish. Color me pleased he latter was not the case when it came to “Under the Dome.”

The book is certainly the lengthiest in King’s recent repertoire. Weighing in at over a thousand pages, the novel contains one of the largest and most complex set of characters he has ever written. The two main characters, Barbie and Jim Rennie, also mark a high point for King when it comes to the love and hate generated by the author. That is a difficult thing to do, but he flawlessly makes me love and loathe.

Without giving much away in this section, I admit the pages kept turning. The political and social minutiae that populate the town is wholly fascinating. Who knew reading about town selectmen and their little lives could be so interesting? The concepts presented, once I got past the craziness of a Dome coming down, made sense and were based on realities readers can believe.

For the most part.
(Invisotext below with spoilers) )

Overall, I would have to rate the book a 7 out of 10. All seven points are awarded based on the characters populating the town, the description of the Dome, and the page-turning effect King presented. Had the ending been something more preferable, it would have easily been 9 points.

Good try, Mr. King. But work on your endings!

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