Inception Review

This review was originally posted as part of Table 9 Mutant‘s IMDb Top 250 project then updated and reposted for the Ultimate 2010s Blogathon, hosted by Tranquil Dreams and me.

Inception movie posterSynopsis
Dream extractors Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and their team are hired by Japanese businessman Saito (Ken Watanabe) to perform inception, or plant an idea in someone’s mind, on Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), son of Saito’s dying competitor.

Review
Christopher Nolan is a writer and director who is known for films that are bold, that go big, and that are completely original. One of his boldest and biggest films came between the latter two films in his influential The Dark Knight trilogy. Inception has all of Nolan’s trademark elements and, most importantly, the cast to make it work. And it works. It works in a spectacular and unforgettable fashion.

Sometimes movies try to explain their world before getting into the story, often using an overbearing amount of exposition. But Inception doesn’t do that. Rather than use the beginning to set up the technology or concept to enter one’s subconscious, it is used to introduce the notion of dreams within dreams, which becomes an important aspect of the story later on, and also simply give an idea of what it the technology does. The movie accepts that entering dream space is already an established technology so it can start with a bang. However, later in the film we do get the exposition needed to explain such a high concept technology. This information is given to us through Ariadne (Ellen Page), who acts as the bridge between the movie and the audience. But again, it is done in a way that is neither pandering nor dull, somehow making exposition exciting and entertaining.

Although there is a large ensemble, almost everyone gets their fair share of screen time. Leonardo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are the main focus but they handle the attention well and give amazing performances. They play off each other humorously and you can feel that their characters are close friends. I haven’t seen many of Cillian Murphy’s films but I’m impressed with his performance here, playing well opposite, and later along side, DiCaprio. Ellen Page is the newcomer to the team and acts a great surrogate for the audience. She offers an innocence and a bit of naivete to the group. However, I would have to say my favorite performances is Tom Hardy as Eames. He brings a charisma that fits his character perfectly.

Cobb has become one of my favorite characters in cinema. He is very complex and it’s easy to forget that he is a thief. He is an antihero but is one because of the circumstances and wants nothing more than to return to his family. Most antiheroes say they have good intentions and only become so out of necessity but secretly enjoy being a thief/killer/whatever kind of antihero they are. Cobb, on the other hand, is truly not a bad person and is only leveraging his skills in a way he believes will allow him to return to his family the quickest, even though it is not a way he would prefer.

I have mentioned many times in other reviews how important the score can be to a movie. Like most other aspects of Inception, the sound work and music beautifully complements what is happening on screen. The movie can get loud to accentuate the action going on but it also gets very quite, making these moments more intimate. Hans Zimmer is my second favorite composer (behind the wonderful John Williams) and for a good example of why he is amazing just look at this movie. His score is memorable and gives a certain gravitas to the events unfolding on screen.

There are some amazing visuals, too. Working inside a dream allows the action to be limited only by the imagination. One of the coolest is an early scene when Ariadne is learning about molding dreams. She is walking around Paris and makes the city fold on itself, among bending the streets and architecture in other ways. There is also a fight scene in zero gravity in a hotel hallway. And these are just a few! On top of that, many of the effects are done practically rather than with computer animation. Even though this film takes place in the dreamscape, it adds a bit of realism in a world that is anything but real. The effects department truly outdid themselves.

I thought Inception was GREAT 😀 Like most of Christopher Nolan’s films, it features a grand and unique concept. Even though the concept is big, it is never dumbed-down or spoon-fed to the audience. The film assumes that they can figure things out for themselves and moves on accordingly, offering marvelous and extraordinary action pieces and character moments. Each character is complex yet relatable and all the actors and actresses play well off each other. Nolan has proven time and again his place as one of the biggest and best storytellers in Hollywood today, and Inception just might be his crown jewel. So far.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Christopher Nolan – Director / Writer
Hans Zimmer – Composer

Leonardo DiCaprio – Cobb
Joseph Gordon-Levitt – Arthur
Ellen Page – Ariadne
Tom Hardy – Eames
Ken Watanabe – Saito
Dileep Rao – Yusuf
Cillian Murphy – Robert Fischer
Marion Cotillard – Mal
Tom Berenger – Browning
Pete Postlethwaite – Maurice Fischer
Michael Caine – Miles
Lukas Haas – Nash

Interstellar Review

Interstellar movie posterSynopsis
When mankind is on the brink of extinction, Docter Brand (Michael Caine), sends Cooper (Mathew McConaughey) and a small crew consisting of Brand’s daughter (Anne Hathaway), Doyle (Wes Bentley), Romilly (David Gyasi), and the robot TARS (Bill Irwin (voice)), on a mission to find a new planet for the human race to inhabit.

Review
Christopher Nolan is up there as one of my favorite directors. Every one of his films is dazzling and feels unique. Interstellar is no different. It may even possibly be his best looking movie to date. Nolan once again teams up with his brother, Jonathan Nolan, to create a wondrous piece of cinematic art.

When I first saw the run time was almost three hours I grumbled. I thought this movie would take forever to get through. Much to my surprise, the time was not a factor at all. Despite being ten minutes shy of The Godfather‘s run time, it flew by. The only time I was shocked there was more to go was at the end of the second act. The second act is the most action packed of the film and felt like it was going to be the movie’s climax. Even after it continued on, I still stayed engrossed in the story. Unlike Transformers: Age of Extinction, every minute was put to good use.

As I said, Nolan’s films have always looked amazing, but Interstellar is by far his best looking film yet. The special effects, the black hole in particular, are visually stunning and a real treat on the eyes. Nolan likes to use computer generated images (CGI) to enhance an experience rather than create an experience and it shows. And it wasn’t always the CGI that stood out. Most of the physical effects looked great, too.

Sound work is always an important part of a movie, whether you realize it or not. Interstellar‘s sound work is top-notch. As with most space movies, there are points where it becomes totally silent. This effect can greatly increase the dramatic effect of the scene and Nolan uses to great effect. Hans Zimmer, a frequently composer for Nolan’s films, once again does the score. And, not surprisingly, does an amazing job. His score superbly enhances the emotion seen on screen. Combine Zimmer’s score with the first-rate sound work and you have the perfect sound mixture.

The robots in the film, TARS and CASE, voiced by Bill Irwin and Josh Stewart respectively, are more whimsical than I had anticipated. They offered much of the movie’s comic relief. The cynical movie goer in me expected them to go crazy, a la HAL 9000, but thankfully that never happened because they are two of my favorite characters. Their look is interesting, too. Definitely a unique and versatile design.

I would have to say, though, that my favorite part about Interstellar is its range of emotions. There was humor, from the previously mentioned robots, TARS and CASE. At one point I was worried for the characters, I became scared for them. I was happy, their successes made me feel overjoyed with them. There was heartbreat, I was sad to see some of the characters who were killed. But the most important, and the emotion that drove Cooper and Murph, was love. Everything that Cooper did was for the love of his daughter Murph and it was well executed.

Interstellar is once again a great entry into Nolan’s unique film catalogue. It looks great, it sounds great, and it goes through a wide range of emotions. Even with a daunting run time, it flies by and is worth every second.

Rating
4/5

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Christopher Nolan – Director / Writer
Jonathan Nolan – Writer
Hans Zimmer – Composer

Mathew McConaughey – Cooper
Mackenzie Foy – Murph (10 years old)
Timothee Chalamet – Tom (15 years old)
John Lithgow – Donald
Anne Hathaway – Brand
Wes Bentley – Doyle
David Gyasi – Romilly
Bill Irwin – TARS (voice)
Josh Stewart – CASE (voice)
Michael Caine – Professor Brand
Jessica Chastain – Murph
Casey Affleck – Tom
Leah Cairns – Lois
Liam Dickinson – Coop
Topher Grace – Getty
Matt Damon – Dr. Mann
Ellen Burstyn – Murph (older)

Inception (2010) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Cinema Parrot Disco

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Drew of Drew’s Movie Reviews. Thanks for joining in, Drew! Now let’s see what he has to say about Inception, IMDB rank 14 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

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Inception Review
Watched: 2/28/2014

Synopsis
Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) are “extractors,” a type of thief who enters a target’s dream to steal information. Japanese businessman Saito (Ken Watanabe) hires them and their team to plant an idea inside someones head, or “inception,” a task many consider to be impossible. The target is Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), son of Saito’s dying competitor. Arthur tries to refuse the…

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The Dark Knight Review

The Dark Knight mo vie posterSynopsis
One year after Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) started fighting Gotham City’s criminal underworld as Batman, a new menace has surfaced. The Joker (Heath Ledger) is bent on spreading chaos throughout the city. Working with Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and the new district attorney, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman must bring down the Joker before he brings all of Gotham to its knees.

Review
Batman Begins gave us a strong Batman origin story. The casting was spot-on, the story was great, and the characters were well fleshed out. All of these aspects carry over into The Dark Knight and add some new cast members that are just as on-point as the returning cast. The Dark Knight is darker and grittier than its predecessor, and triumphs not just as a great superhero film, but as a cinematic masterpiece.

Heath Ledger received a ton of flack when he was announced as the Joker in The Dark Knight. Now it’s hard to envision anyone else in the role. Ledger completely embodied the Joker, from his voice to the character’s mannerisms, including freaky body twitches and lip licking. It looks like the Joker is barely on the edge of maintaining his sanity, and it’s all feels real. This is without a doubt my favorite portrayal of the character.

One noticeable difference is Rachael Dawes is played by Maggie Gyllenhaal this time around, instead of Katie Holmes. Holmes turned down the role due to scheduling conflicts with Mad Money. As I said in my Batman Begins review, Holmes wasn’t awful, her performance just wasn’t as strong as the cast around her. Gyllenhaal, on the other hand, has no problem standing toe-to-toe with the likes of Bale, Ledger, and Michael Cane. She also does well bring across the emotion necessary for some of her more dramatic moments. As much as I don’t like to see cast changes in the middle of franchises, this one was probably for the better.

We didn’t get to see much of the detective part of the “World’s Greatest Detective” in Batman Begins, but we do this outing. Wayne uses his skills and resources to find the Joker’s hideout. It was only a few, short sequences, but it was nice they acknowledged that side of Batman since often it’s neglected in favor of action.

The Dark Knight has a long running time, but it doesn’t feel like it at all. Part of the long running time is due to the focus on two villains. Unlike most movies that try to focus on more than one antagonist, this film does not feel claustrophobic. It does extremely well balancing both Joker and Two-Face, who comes in about halfway through the movie. Although it is two and a half hours, it moves along at a quick pace, while still developing the character of Bruce Wayne and the supporting cast.

Not only is The Dark Knight one of my favorite comic book movies, but it is one of my favorites of all time. With superb casting, great balance of characters and character development, not to mention great action, it is hard not to love this movie.

Rating
5/5

For the rest of The Dark Knight trilogy, check out my reviews for Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises.