Late to the Inceptional party? Inception Review

Every so often a film is released with an obscene amount of hype. Such is the case with almost every Christopher Nolan film. Ever so slowly becoming a household name, Nolan has consistently delivered interesting and original material the likes of which Hollywood hasn’t seen for decades. With nary a bad film to date, has the young auteur finally bit off more than he can chew with Inception?

Dom Cobb (Leonardo Di Caprio) is by his own admission the world’s most skilled extractor. Capable of entering dreams, Cobb has the ability to steal well kept secrets and ideas from the mind of his assigned targets. Few are able to do the job as well as him, and for that, he is payed handsomely. Lately however, he has been haunted by the memories of his dead wife Mal (Marion Cotillard), who is sabotaging Cobb’s dreams far more frequently than usual. He is then hired by businessman Saito (Ken Watanabe) who wants Cobb to enter the mind of Robert Fischer Jr. (Cillian Murphy), a heir to a rival business empire, not to steal an idea, but plant one. For this job he assembles his best and brightest including his assistant Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an impersonation specialist in Eames (played by Tom Hardy), scientist Yusuf (Dileep Rao), and talented young architect Ariadne (Ellen Page).

I don’t blame you if you think the synopsis is a lot to take in. The film is in overdrive from the beginning and if you aren’t going along for the ride within the first half-hour, prepare for a tough and tedious slog. For those relish the complexity though, you might find that Inception is the ultimate elixir. It will take repeat viewings to truly grasp everything that is at play here. The first half of the film is all about the setup. We learn the rules, we learn the people, we learn the disastrous consequences if they fail. It’s easily the weakest part of the film and contains some seriously lengthy exposition. It’s by no means bad, but even 10 minutes off the running time would have done it a world of good.



The second half of the film however, is the cinema experience at its most potent. With any other director, the ‘dream inside of a dream’ sequence could have been a horrible mishmash of scenes that made no sense whatsoever. With Nolan at the helm we get a feeling of full control. Tight editing, music, acting and tension make for a breathless final act that doesn’t let up until the final shot, and it’s a corker.

I’m not going to sugar-coat it, the movie’s initial impact is mind-blowing, but the thing that warrants multiple viewings is the emotional weight it carries. There is so much at stake for Cobb, and the ending gives the audience an array of emotions and feelings. I begun this article talking about the ridiculous amount of hype that Inception held. With that impending pressure the film could have buckled under its own weight, instead, it justifies every word of it. See it, discuss it, recommend it.

4/5

Review by Michael Kiossev

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Staring contest: Twilight: Eclipse review

I’m not ashamed to say I have read the Twilight books. Hell, I kinda liked them. They aren’t exactly great literature, but they are entertaining and easy to read, and the characters are far, far more likeable than the wooden cut outs we are offered in the latest film installment to the series.

For those that haven’t read the series, this was the one to watch. It has action, intensity, all the issues between Edward/Bella/Jacob finally come to a head. Unfortunately, director David Slade opted to go with 2 hours of teenagers staring moodily at one another while Bella bites her bottom lip.

The story this time centers around Bella and Edward staring at one another, whilst Jacob continues to wear no shirt and pine after Bella. Flame haired vampire Victoria is back for revenge, this time with new sidekick Riley and his vampire army at her command.

So what was wrong with the film? To be honest, I couldn’t find much that was right with it. The characters are so unlikeable, I found myself genuinely more interested in the villains, which is saying something. We wait nearly the entire movie to see the final showdown between the Cullen clan/werewolves and Victories army, and I can tell you now, it is not worth the wait. It reminds me of childhood experience of making a sparkler bomb. You watch the little fuse wind it’s way to the powder, and when it gets there… Nothing happens. You sit and wait, and keep watching anxiously for the fireworks, and they never come.

The wolves to me are a great disappointment. There just seems to be no weight behind them, they don’t seem to be great warriors like they are described in the book, but rather, more like giant Labradors.

I think I am agreeing with many people when I say I do not dislike Kristen Stewart or Robert Pattinson. I think they are both very capable actors, but both of them are let down in this film but a totally lifeless script. I don’t have the same high praise for Taylor Lautner, who once again does nothing in this film but wander around shirtless attempting to make tween girls sigh (judging by the box office scores, he is doing his job well at least).

One of the only highlights for me is the inclusion of Australian actor Xavier Samuel. Samuel plays new vampire Riley, and whilst he isn’t given to much room to grow, he at least relishes his role. He is evil, yet we can still sense the innocence of someone who has been drawn into this supernatural world unwillingly. He exudes a certain charisma that a certain other Australian star seems to be severely lacking (Sam Worthington, I’m looking at you). I sincerely hope that I get to see more of Samuels in the future, hopefully in something a little more interesting.

There is still one last chance for the series to redeem itself with the final installment, Breaking Dawn. Breaking Dawn lacks the conflict and action of Eclipse, but without wanting to spoil it for anyone, let’s just say that there are some interesting scenes that could make for a rather absurd film.

All in all I found Twilight: Eclipse to be bloated, boring, stiff and lifeless. I contemplated leaving well before the supposed climax, and did actually leave before the film finished (due to an unforeseen emergency). For some reason fans of the books seem to love the movie series also, which baffles me entirely, as the film betrays every good scene the book created, and leaves so much much wanting in terms of the characters.

Maybe they’re all just content to sigh at Jacobs abs?

1/5

Soft Spot Cinema: Jumper

Yes that’s right, it’s time for another installment of Soft Spot Cinema, the feature where I attempt to defend the films everyone else loathes. Also, as an added incentive to readers, if you despise this film as much as I love it, send me a review (try not to make it too long) and I will post it on the site (unless it’s really good, in which case I will just pretend I never got it. Saves embarrassment).

This time I’ll be doing my best to defend the 2008 sci-fi adventure, Jumper.

Jumper follows the story of David Rice (played mostly by Hayden Christensen) a young lad who one day discovers that he has the ability to instantly transport himself anywhere in the world. Cue scenes of bank robberies and fantastic holidays. Lunch on The Sphynx and dinner in London. Of course, at some point the fun has to end, and that’s where we meet Roland (Samuel L. Jackson) a man dedicated to hunting down Rice and those like him. I could tell you more about the film, but I think to do so would spoil the fun (it could ruin the plot, but there isn’t much of that in the first place. Or is there too much?)

Jumper for me is an interesting film. Obviously for it to qualify for this segment I have to acknowledge that this film is bad. In this case, there is little getting around that fact. The scripting is relatively two dimensional, the plot line is somewhat confusing, with very little being explained. The film doesn’t really reveal where the conflict comes from, just that it is there, and the love interest seems to serve no purpose other than to be the love interest, a card board cut out is given more character depth.

So yes, on paper, this film is bad. But in reality, it’s exactly what I want from a mainstream sci-fi film. The first, and definitely most enticing factor is the concept. The ability to teleport to anywhere in the world, whenever you want? Yes please.

The film looks slick, with some fantastic scenery being used (Rice is seen surfing big waves in the morning, eating lunch atop the Sphynx and rounding out the day swinging from Big Ben in London), and despite majority opinion, I didn’t despise the acting at all. Christensen is generally considered to have a limited acting ability, however, I count myself in the minority that think he isn’t half bad, and I think he is actually quite well suited to this role. He is arrogant, yet still likeable, and also possesses the naivety of someone who has grown up without fully grasping the implications of his ability.

However, it is not Christensen, but Jackson that is the stand out for me in this film. I am unable to think of a film where I didn’t enjoy Jackson’s over the top acting. He is one actor that takes whatever character he is given and truly runs with it. Here we see Jackson as the self righteous Roland, who along with his cronies, has dedicated his life to hunting down “Jumpers”, a small group that Rice is now a part of.

At the end of the day, despite the mangled religious message (I’m still not entirely what the film was trying to get across in that regard), this is a film that is highly enjoyable as a non-thinking escape, something that many people seem to forget is a viable excuse for a film. It looks good, the acting is more than tolerable, the concept is enticing and there are some genuinely exciting moments in the film. This is not the sort of film you leave with thoughts about the directors interesting take on the modern social climate in regards to religious fascism, but rather, with the sole thought of “Man, what would you do if you had those powers?”

What did you think of Jumper? What films do you love that everyone else hates?