Sunday, July 18, 2010

Inception Review - 5/5 "There's No Place Like Home"

"Inception", simply put, is a masterpiece. Rarely does a film come along that is this bold, this original, this ambitious, this powerful. But Christopher Nolan has once again done the impossible and created a film that is not only ambitious and epic, but exceedingly intimate and compelling. The film is thrilling, smart, and features one of the most emotionally charged stories to come out of a large scale Hollywood studio in years. That Christopher Nolan was able to make a film that is at once his best film yet and his most personal, while also making it on a grand scale is something of a miracle. Those who haven't seen the film yet should not be reading my review. First of all, I am going to delve into some spoilers, but secondly, stop reading this review if you haven't see it, drop what you're doing and go see it!

In a lot of ways, "Inception" tells the story of a man with one simple driving force. He just wants to go home. He just wants to see his children again. Cobb, played with subtlety and grace by Leonardo DiCaprio, is a lot like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Not that there are any plot similarities, mind you, but Cobb desperately needs a pair of red shoes to click together. Cobb is an extractor, the best in the business, but he is also a fugitive on the run. He uses a technology called dream sharing, where he is able to infiltrate the mind of a subject and find out all their secrets.

This technology, and extractors like Cobb, have become invaluable in a world filled with corporate espionage. The process by which Cobb breaks into the subject's subconscious and steals their secrets is called extraction. However, a wealthy corporate CEO named Saito asks Cobb to perform inception, the process of planting and idea rather than stealing one, on one of his competitors. Cobb's right hand man, Arthur, insists this is impossible, that true inspiration cannot be faked.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Last Airbender review - 1.5/5 aka "Failbender"

Believe me when I say that no one is more disappointed with this film than I am. What should have a been a slam-dunk is a huge let-down. An even bigger shame considering how brilliantly written, acted, and directed the animated series it's based on is. Where to begin? The film is far too short, and feels like a combination of a Sparknotes booklet (albeit an incomplete one) and a "Previously on" montage to set up a new season, but missing crucial moments, information, and characters. In fact, I think watching this adaptation of what is arguably the best American animated show since Batman: The Animated Series is like reading the Sparknotes version of a classic book. Sure, you get the basic idea, but you miss out on all the subtleties, complexities, and power of the source material. What you're left with is a flat, unenjoyable experience that feels more like a chore than anything. This is largely due to the incredibly rushed pacing of the film. With a running time of only 103 minutes, they had to cram more plot into this film than humanly possible. I honestly was not bothered so much by the changes to the story as much as the massive amount of material left out. Word on the street is there was a 150 minute cut at some point, as is evidenced by the trailers, which include a great deal of finished footage that never made it into the final cut of the film. And it's not so much that they took out little things, but practically any shred of character development gone. It's just plot plot plot, but not even told in a very coherent manner, due to the rushed, uneven pacing. The writing is just downright atrocious. Seriously, the detractors of James Cameron should give The Last Airbender a peek. You'll find yourself wanting to watch Avatar again, because that film told a better story, with more interesting, well-rounded characters.