Posts Tagged movie

Inception Essentials


Now that Inception finally got released over here, I instantly waddled off to the movie theatre. I enjoyed it a lot, appreciated the way they set up and unfolded the different layers, kept them connected, and concluded the narrative threads with a nice cascade of kicks. Christopher Nolan and his crew crafted a well-paced ride. The few elements that didn’t seem consistent with the concept or were left unexplained didn’t really hurt the experience.

The cast was superb. (Side note: I probably spent minutes trying to figure out what moviesĀ  Tom Hardy had been involved earlier. The face, the voice – he seemed familiar. It wasn’t until I was back at home and dove into IMDB that I saw that he had played young Bizarro-Picard in Star Trek: Nemesis. I guess I’m just bringing that up to have an excuse to link to Red Letter Media’s excellent review of what could have been a carreer-ending turd.)

The biggest gripe I probably have: As always, many, many signature scenes were already included in the trailers. I guess I too am at fault though for never being able to resist the urge to watch trailers in general.

Inception leaves plenty of room for speculation and interpretation. If that happens to be your cup of tea, you might find the links after the jump interesting. Obviously, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, you should avoid this journey to the republic of SPOILERSTANIA.

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I watched 3D version of Avatar yesterday, and while it surely is not a flawless movie, it still was a fascinating and visually impressive experience. I was a bit worried that it might feel like two movies going through a shotgun wedding due to the mix of real actors and full CG scenes, but it ended up blending rather well. Facial animation often is a problem in movies that try to aim for a ‘realistic’ look – see Polar Express or Final Fantasy – but the Na’vi worked and did not break the immersion.

And an immersive movie it certainly was thanks to the world James Cameron and — based on the credits — millions of artists had crafted. Let there be no doubt: Avatar is a movie that begs to be watched on a big screen, preferably in 3D.

However, the c’t take I saw today probably put it best: It’s a three-dimensional film with a one-dimensional story. Pretty much everything is telegraphed ahead, and what follows is predictable down to the smallest level. Well executed, but predictable. Dances With Wolves was brought already by others, and yes, it’s an apt comparison. Cameron also sourced some of his own movies and reused themes he had employed there, especially Aliens and The Abyss.

The characters are more or less stereotypes and equally fail in surprising anyone. Avatar has a running time of 162 minutes, and yet there’s next to nil information given on the background or motivation of any of the characters. Col. Quaritch (Stephen Lange) — I had to look up his name because, like most of the other names, it did not really stuck with me — really is your average military person, Grace (Sigourney Weaver) and her colleagues are the good-natured scientists while Selfridge (Giovanni Ribisi) came across like a poorer version of the corporate guy played by Paul Reiser in Aliens. There wasn’t anything particularly remarkable about them, and same can be said about Na’vi characters like Eytukan (Wes Studi) or Tsu’tey , which probably both translate to “I’m a character that will kick the bucket before the movie is over so that Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) can become the true and clear leader of the tribe“. It’s up to the audience to speculate as to why Trudy (Michelle Rodriguez) goes rogue by noting that “this isn’t what I signed up for” because soldiers usually do not sign up for dishing out candy. None of those details was a dealbreaker that ruined the experience for me; many of them could have been fixed/improved by some writer though. Not every piece of information needs to be spoon-fed to the audience, but sometimes providing more background helps provide a reason for what a character is doing instead of conveying the impression that he/she does it because the script simply requires him/her to do exactly that at that moment.

Cameron still knows how to frame a good action scene. Despite there being quite a number of fights and a bigger aerial battle, pretty much everything was easy on the eyes compared to the hectic and overly nervous crap delivered in other recent action movies like let’s say Transformers 1 & 2. They surely were aware of the fact that quick cuts and changes of focus will result in a jarring and stressing 3D experience – and avoiding that really paid off. I also thought that they used the 3D effect quite well throughout the movie – not as gimmicky as Beowulf.

So yeah, it’s nice cinematic experience with a really well defined world. And while the story or the dialogue can’t live up to Avatar’s visual quality, it’s still way, way more bearable than the insane scripts beneath other 2009 ‘blockbuster’ productions — yes, 2012 and Transformers 2, I’m looking at you. Go and fetch your ticket already.


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Here Be Dragons

So, I finally got around to watching Dragon Wars, a movie about some dragon snake wreaking havoc. Now, I do love a good monster movie like anyone else. Remember those Godzilla movies involving psychic kids or magic mini fairy twins Mothra priestresses? Yeah, those parts sucked. It doesn’t really help that Dragon Wars ups the magic mumbojumo quota big time, but really tries to take itself somewhat seriously. In order to share my thoughts on the movie, I proudly provide 10 quick cut-to-the-chase reviews:

  • Dragon Wars: Michael Bay, is that you?
  • Dragon Wars: Where were you when I was 8 years old?
  • Dragon Wars: The kind of movie Brett Ratner could have elevated from ’embarrassing’ to ‘bad’.
  • Dragon Wars: Just skip to the L.A. battle scene, watch it, quickly eject the DVD again. Quickly.
  • Dragon Wars: Now with almost two minutes of actual dragon.
  • Dragon Wars: What the fuck?
  • Dragon Wars: Seriously, what the fuck?
  • Dragon Wars: Where all the dialogue that didn’t make it into third-rate soap operas ended up.
  • Dragon Wars: What an amazing thrill ride!
  • Dragon Wars: Makes you root for ‘evil’ because pretty much all protagonists match with Dark Helmet’s characterization of ‘good’.

Nevertheless, I’m actually looking forward to watching it again. With Rifftrax. (Make sure to watch the sample.)

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