Movie Review – Interstellar

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Jun 062015

InterstellarIn the near future, Earth has been devastated by drought and famine, causing a scarcity in food and extreme changes in climate. When humanity is facing extinction, a mysterious rip in the space-time continuum is discovered, giving mankind the opportunity to widen its lifespan. A group of explorers must travel beyond our solar system in search of a planet that can sustain life. The crew of the Endurance are required to think bigger and go further than any human in history as they embark on an interstellar voyage into the unknown. Coop, the pilot of the Endurance, must decide between seeing his children again and the future of the human race.

Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan
Stars: Ellen Burstyn, Matthew McConaughey, Mackenzie Foy, John Lithgow, Matt Daymon, Anne Hathaway, Topher Grace
Runtime: 169 min; Rated: PG-13; Genre: Adventure, Sci-Fi; Released: 07 Nov 2014

I watched this one afternoon a few weeks ago on Amazon Streaming. (Yes, I am way behind on my reviews.) I would like to have seen it in iMax. It was a very good movie, and I enjoyed it, but thought the story could have been told just a little more concisely. Continue reading »

Inception-A Movie Review

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Jul 202010

Dom Cobb is a skilled thief, the absolute best in the dangerous art of extraction, stealing valuable secrets from deep within the subconscious during the dream state when the mind is at its most vulnerable. Cobb’s rare ability has made him a coveted player in this treacherous new world of corporate espionage, but it has also made him an international fugitive and cost him everything he has ever loved. Now Cobb is offered a chance at redemption. One last job could give him his life back but only if he can accomplish the impossible — inception. Instead of the perfect heist, Cobb and his team of specialists have to pull off the reverse: their task is not to steal an idea but to plant one. If they succeed, it could be the perfect crime. But no amount of careful planning or expertise can prepare the team for the dangerous enemy that seems to predict their every move. An enemy that only Cobb could have seen coming.

Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction/Fantasy and Thriller; Running Time: 2 hr. 28 min. Release Date: July 16th, 2010 (wide); MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence and action throughout.

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, Marion Cotillard, Pete Postlethwaite, Michael Caine, Lukas Haas

Director: Christopher Nolan

Lay and me went to watch this Saturday night at the AMC Theater in Brandon. The theater was somewhat crowded, but for once, the crowd was quiet and respectful. We enjoyed this movie, but you’d better be paying attention. Nolan uses the construct of showing the story in bite-sized pieces, and in no particular order. I often find this style annoying, but this movie shows there are situations where it is an appropriate approach, and it does add to your experience by keeping you a little off-balance. (Use the restroom right before the movie starts, and don’t drink the large soda…you will miss something.)

Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a security agent of the most unconventional kind — he guards people’s subconscious thoughts. Wealthy clients pay him to make sure their dreams remain uncompromised, since the dream realm is where we all hide our deepest, most valuable secrets.

Cobb, an expert in dream extraction, also pilfers ideas from his clients on the side. He hates to live so unscrupulously but he’s running from a horrific incident in his past that leaves him unable to return home to his family and work a normal job.

Now, suddenly, a wealthy Japanese client, Saito (Ken Watanabe), is willing to grant Cobb his ultimate freedom, so that he can be reconnected with his children. All he must do in return is something infinitely more difficult than dream extraction: dream inception. Specifically, he must plant an idea in the head of the heir to the world’s largest energy fortune, an idea that will allow Saito’s own business empire to thrive. But dream inception requires not just a dream-state, or a dream-within-a-dream state, but a dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream state. Not easy.

I found the concept interesting and a bit creepy, as a week or so ago I awoke one night realizing that I had experienced a dream within a dream myself. I’ve never been any good at remembering dreams, and don’t remember these, but I did repeat to myself on waking the experience so I could at least recall that. I don’t recall ever having that experience before.

To do this, he recruits a team of veteran dream thieves, along with a precocious young architect (Ellen Page), and sets about entering the mind of the heir (Cillian Murphy) during a cross-Atlantic flight. But just 10 hours, you say? That can’t be enough time to implant an idea in someone’s head? Ahh, but in Nolan’s dream world, one hour of real-time is like 10 hours of dream-time. And one hour of dream-time is like 10 hours of dream-within-a-dream time.

From there, things get tricky for our thieves, as layers upon layers of dreams start piling up, and the integrity of the dream system they’ve created becomes increasingly fragile, with potentially devastating effects.

It’s great entertainment, but far too busy, and still ends up slightly incoherent.

To be clear, that idea is amazing, the product of a capable, fertile mind. But like all dreams, the vision seems to have been hard for Nolan to reproduce and convey while still making sense. That’s Inception itself: a breath-taking kaleidoscope of fractured, fragmented emotions, thoughts and images, but with a few loose ends here and there.

Another problem is that, at times, the film feels like it’s been neatly cleaved in two — the story about Cobb and his wife, and the larger heist story. While the narrative works to bring the two together, they each could serve as the basis of separate films. In fact, we found the scenes involving Cobb’s personal story a bit annoying.

Leonardo gives a fine performance. While the rest of the cast performs as expected, it must be said that Ellen Page disappoints as the architect student. The character’s just a bit too flippant and immature.

The visuals are first class, and Nolan has convincingly played around with things as fundamental to our universe as gravity and time, all without relying too heavily on CGI.

It’s a fantastic effort, and a sure-fire blockbuster. Lay said it was the best film we’d seen this year, and as I thought about it, he may be right.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars6 Stars7 Stars8 Stars9 Stars10 Stars (1 votes, average: 9.00 out of 10)

The Dark Knight – A Movie Review

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Jul 282008

Batman PosterWith the help of Lieutenant Jim Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent, Batman sets out to destroy organized crime in Gotham for good. The triumvirate proves to be effective, but they soon find themselves prey to a rising criminal mastermind known as the Joker, who thrusts Gotham into anarchy and forces the Dark Knight ever closer to crossing the fine line between hero and vigilante.

Genres: Action/Adventure, Crime/Gangster, Adaptation and Sequel

Release Date: July 18th, 2008 (wide); MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and some menace

Cast: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman

Director: Christopher Nolan

We mistakenly went to see this last weekend, but it was, of course, sold out. We went this week on Thursday in the early evening, so we were able to see. The theater was full but not packed.

This is certainly one of the better films of the year. Nolan has done an outstanding job of creating an atmosphere with his Gotham City. It’s a dark place in dire need of batman. Nolan lets the film’s spectacular action scenes seem like the natural consequences of the conflicts between characters, conflicts that build until Gotham becomes less a setting than a stage for an operatic conflict between good and chaos. Bale does a fine job as Batman, but I have to tell you that Ledger is as good as everyone says he is. He makes a comic character absolutely frightening. What the Joker lacks in transparent motives he makes up for with enthusiasm. Playing a self-described “engine of chaos,” the late Heath Ledger treats the iconic comic-book villain as a man who sees life as a dark joke, but takes care to tailor his punchlines for maximum impact. It’s an unnervingly thorough performance, from the character’s serpentine habit of licking his lips to the hitch Ledger throws into his stride.

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