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Category Archives: DVD/Blu-Ray At Home Movie Reviews

Inception – (Spoilers Could Follow)

Hello?

Yes, I am still out there, just haven’t been as frequent as I usually am, and will strive to change that for hopefully, my loyal followers.

So to get the juices flowing, will go back a few years…has it really been three years since “Inception” first came out?  Indeed it has, and with that, we’ll dive right in.

There have been a number of movies about dreams, or people sleeping and having their environment manipulated, with some of my most memorable being “Dreamscape” (1984) and “The Matrix” (1999).  Each of those movies explores the idea that inside the mind, so many things can happen, and with the right tools, you can change the world around you.

Christopher Nolan was first brought to me with “Insomnia” (2002), which I did not know was him in the director’s chair, and then “Batman Begins” (2005), “The Prestige” (2006), and “The Dark Knight” (2008).  Of those movies, “The Prestige” really rocked me and had me wanting to see the movie immediately after it was over.  That sharp cut to black at the end of the story.  That poignant moment where you literally are dying for more.  It stirred something inside me that made me understand that I was going to enjoy seeing his works (and since that time I have seen “Memento” 2000, and really enjoyed it too).

I often don’t care for trailers, as they show parts often not in the theater, or show you way too much of the plot early on, and often create an idea in my mind of what to expect, and I’d rather let the movie do the talking.  But even with this trailer, I was hooked from the beginning, “Your Mind is the scene of the crime…”  I hadn’t seen anything like this before, and I was excited for the possibilities.

And I wasn’t disappointed.  With a really stellar ensemble cast, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Paige, Ken Watanabe, Michael Caine, the list goes on, the story of Cobb’s (DiCaprio) journey home and one last job to do so begins to unfold.  A thief, who steals from your dreams, must find a way to create an idea, Inception, into one last person, and in doing so will be able to return to his children after he fled the country following his wife Mal’s (Marion Cotillard) death.

For those who want to avoid spoilers, do yourself a favor and watch this movie.  Take the time to really sit and watch, pay attention, and then discuss the ending with friends.

Everyone else ready?  Good.

So the idea behind “Inception” is that in the dream world, which is facilitated by a unique device, your subconscious can be a playground.  But it can also be a prison.  Mal and Cobb experiment with dreaming and are trapped in their shared dream.  They use items called tokens, items that only they know the weight and feel of to ground them to the true reality, to distinguish between the worlds.  After years and years of being inside the dream, Cobb implants an idea by using Mal’s token to convince her that she is in a dream and that if they die, they’ll wake up.  When they return to the real world, the shock of such an idea rocks Mal’s mind and eventually she kills herself to prove she’s in a dream, and orchestrates the whole thing in an attempt to have him join her and wake up.  This leads to Cobb’s fleeing and having the regret of not being able to tell his children good bye.  Cobb was a loving husband, and is a loving father, though he is plagued by the regrets of what happened and in violating his own rules, uses memories to create dreams inside his own mind.  He assembles a team of specialists to get the job done, and uses a dream within a dream, within a dream, to plant the idea in his target.

The special effects, writing, and story are top notch, and really for anything that I’ve seen Christopher Nolan do, he doesn’t disappoint.  For the dream sequences, and the dream within dreams, they do take the time to explain how time works within each layer, and how it becomes exponential and more dangerous the deeper you go.  The effects are well created, with enough eye candy to keep you interested, but not enough to make your brain hurt…that comes later.  This is what I feel more science fiction should be like, and doesn’t require aliens or crazy space things to be successful.

Ok, next part is more spoilery goodness, and will be a discussion in how I can to the interpretation of the ending.  You have been warned.

So after my first viewing of “Inception,” and I’m sure those who have seen it remember the ending, has the same cut to black as his other films.  I saw it again not too long later and was still blown away by the ending, and it raised the question of whether or not Cobb was still dreaming.  Now before we get into the deeper meat and potatoes of what the movie was really about, I present my points and then we’ll get to the last bits.

Theory: Cobb is awake at the end of the film.

Reason 1: Mal is dead, we know this, and Cobb is running from it.  She appears in his mind, in the most inopportune moments and causes all sorts of chaos.  She makes him question what is real and what is the dream.  But, if you watch, she only appears in the dreams.  As persistent of a memory as she is, if he were still dreaming in the end, she’d be there.

Reason 2: This one involved a little bit of cheating, but on my third viewing I had noticed it (and had begun to come to my true conclusion about the film).  His children have aged since he left them.  When watching it I noted the change in their clothing for one, though it wasn’t until I looked closely that I confirmed it.  It’s very minute, but there are differences in their height and attire, and with a check to IMDB (the cheating part) I found that the ages for them were in fact, different

Reason 3: This is the reason I give that if you took away the others (which I even have more if we needed to go there), proves it.  Throughout the movie they talk about the tokens and how they work.  And Cobb spins a top, wondering if he’s still asleep, but when it wobbles and topples over, he can rest assured that he’s back in reality.  In the dream with Mal before the first Inception, the top had been locked away inside Mal’s subconscious, always spinning, never wobbling.  Some then argue, “But he didn’t see it fall when he was in the bathroom after he used that super drug!”  To which I say, look at the very end.  The top spins, and spins, in a sort of slow motion to add dramatic flair perhaps, but it does something it hadn’t done in the dream, wobble.  It’s very subtle, but again, didn’t wobble when it was in the dream.  There are talks about his children and his ring being his token, but really, the top proves it.

And even if we question the ending of whether or not Cobb is still dreaming, let me put a quote for you to help with the big takeaway,

“And I start to panic and realize I’m gonna regret this moment, that I need to see their faces one last time. The moment’s passed and whatever I do I can’t change this moment. I’m about to call out to them, they run away. If I’m ever gonna see their faces again I’ve gotta get back home in the real world.”

Cobb’s life is full of the regrets, with Mal’s death, leaving his children, not seeing their faces, he’s on the run.  All he wants to do it get back to them, to not have that regret any more.  Through his journey, he finally let’s go and confronts his guilt and lets the projection of Mal know that he kept his promise to her, that they grew old together in their dream.  When he sees his children’s faces, he’s come to let go of the guilt and has accepted the happiness that is present with them back in his life.  He doesn’t care about the top any more, he cares about what he always has, them.

If somehow you read through all of this and still haven’t seen the movie, do yourself a favor and watch it.  And even if you’ve seen it many, many times like I have, watch it again and relive the moments and just enjoy it.

 
 

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Trick ‘r Treat-Best Halloween Film I’ve Seen

While we have our favorites we like to watch on Halloween, most of the ones I remember are really about slashers and how can we kill the next victim.  For some, those movies are enjoyable, but they get repetitive and I just don’t care for that.

That is where “Trick ‘r Treat” thankfully comes in and does a smart, creepy collection of intertwined stories that’s fun, and really something I don’t think we’ve seen before.

It’s Halloween night, and as usual, you have your range of costumes and revelers, but you also have rules, rules that some don’t seem to care about, like not blowing out your jack-o-lantern until the morning after, or making sure children get candy.  Things that seem insignificant come back to haunt several rule breakers.  And while most movies have the happy ending or shy away from killing a child, this movie thankfully doesn’t get into that rut.

I won’t give away too much as there are some great reveals/climaxes as each of the stories unfold, but if you give it a try, I do not think you will be disappointed.

 

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The Dark Knight Rises – The End of a Satisfying Trilogy

Note: I don’t think I have to remind any of my viewers/readers that my posts may  contain spoilers, so consider yourselves warned, but I will try to keep them mild.

Yes folks, I am back.  After a year long hiatus, I have made a resolution to give you, my readers, at least one review a week.  I hope to maintain the resolution and to give you some insight into a number of movies.  Let’s begin this journey into 2013!

In the past decade or so, there have been a number of trilogies; some great, some that make you wonder just much the industry is trying to drain your pockets and your minds.  One of the great ones to me, The Lord of the Rings, versus The Matrix, which while the first movie left it open for a sequel, the whole saga did not feel cohesive.   But enough about the past, let us look at the present, and the future of what I feel, was an end to a great trilogy.

Christopher Nolan’s look into the world of Bruce Wayne/Batman in Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises brought a more realistic approach to a fantastic world bound by comic book pages.  When I say bound, I mean that the limitations/ability to stretch the realms of imagination are great, and we have several movies that explored that same universe on film, but originally were only in printed form and our ventures with Adam West.  Again, we had great, Batman and Batman Returns, and then not so great, Batman and Robin and Batman Forever (however, I will admit that I liked Batman Forever for the most part, just wasn’t as solid as its predecessors).

When I first heard that Bane was the primary villain in TDKR, I got really excited.  Not just because we wanted to see a Bane that was awesome compared to the monstrosity we had in Batman and Robin, but because I knew that Christopher Nolan had the ability and daring to use Bane to what he does in the comics: the one who breaks Batman’s back.  Originally I thought the movie would have that as either the ending, with the denouement being the aftermath and those who follow to help Gotham after the tragedy.  I will say I was very pleasantly surprised at the journey of Bruce Wayne and Batman’s fall and rise again after the events of The Dark Knight rocked Gotham, but also with a fall and rise through this movie with his encounters with Bane and other dark forces.

Christopher Nolan again sweeps the audience into his vision and makes sure that once you’re on the ride, you’re not let go until the very end.  The development of the characters, the effects/technologies present, and the score all bring a complete experience that brings a satisfying end to fans that have been taken over a several year journey with this cast and crew.   You really have a sense of the grandiose and epic challenges facing the citizens of Gotham as Bruce Wayne/Batman face Bane in each and every scene.  And again, it was all believable.  I did not have to suspend disbelief in the ability for any of these events to really occur.  Bruce Wayne is a man with nearly unlimited resources and a network of bright minds to bring things together, Bane is a man who, while being incredibly strong and sinister, has his frailties.

Many probably are wondering when I was going to bring up Catwoman/Selina Kyle.  Yes, while many a man drooled and continue to drool over Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns, I think that Anne Hathaway brought the alluring face that we wanted, along with the acting chops to bring to life the conflicted character with some personal demons of her own.   I have heard a number of people say she wasn’t as great as Michelle, which I say that you cannot truly compare the two, as both movies were very different versions of the Batman story, and so the characters will be represented differently.

Now my only complaint/frustration with the film was the sound and score.  When I first saw the movie at midnight, Bane’s voice was hard to understand and the score seemed as much of a character as anyone else on the screen.  When I saw it in IMAX, Bane’s voice came through a lot clearer, but the score was so loud, you couldn’t hear the rest of the cast in a number of scenes, and my wife and I had headaches afterwards because the sound was so uncomfortable.  I later found out that a number of IMAX theaters had been given the wrong sound information for syncing and as a result I was given tickets for a later IMAX movie, Skyfall, of which I really enjoyed, but that’s another review folks.  By the Blu Ray release, the issues with sound seemed to be fixed, and the jumps between IMAX and widescreen, while still noticeable, weren’t as difficult to watch as in on the big screen.

Christopher Nolan wrapped up the series for us in a neat little package that keeps fans satisfied, and opens up a new world to be explored.  Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan won’t be doing any other movies, but that doesn’t mean other characters won’t have the opportunity to shine, if the studios, writers and actors find the right ground to cross.

If you haven’t seen these movies, take the time to watch each and every one and see a truly awesome trilogy that I will be watching again and again.