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.


Review by Michael Kiossev


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?


Soft spot cinema: 21

So in my time I have been known to like a fair few crap movies. Don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of good ones as well, but for some reason there seems to be a bank of crappy films that I can’t get enough.

So with that in mind, I introduce you to my newest segment, Soft spot cinema.

In this segment I will post reviews of some of these horrible films, and try to justify why they entertain me so.

In the inaugural segment I present to you: 21.

21 is the work of director Robert Luketic, a director with a less than stellar career to date (The Ugly Truth and Monster-In-Law were both helmed by Luketic), though I like to think that this film operates on a slightly higher level than his distinguished past pieces.

The film’s hero is young whiz kid Ben (Jim Sturgess), a senior at MIT who wants to go on to study at Harvard Med. The only problem? Ben ain’t too wealthy, and Harvard ain’t too cheap. There is a scholarship on offer, but even with his good grades, Ben hasn’t got anything that “dazzles”, he just doesn’t “jump off the page” as his interviewer puts it.

Then out of the blue (or not, I won’t deny the movie is a tad predictable) Ben is offered the chance of a life time, to join a professional card counting team helmed by one of Ben’s professors, the charming Micky Rosa (Kevin Spacey). It takes some coercing from the girl of Ben’s dreams, Jill (Kate Bosworth), who just so happens to be on the team as well.

From there we watch the usual trials and tribulations as Ben begins to change, things start to spiral. This movie, for all its standard formula’s, had me for two reasons. One, I actually quite liked the acting in it. It’s hard not to be a fan of Kevin Spacey, who always puts on a good show, and he is simply perfect as the cunning and dangerous Micky Rosa. When he turns up the menace, we believe that he truly is capable of untold things. Sturgess is well fitted to play been, the naive geek who gets pulled into a world he isn’t quite ready for. Bosworth was actually one of my least favourite actors in the film, I felt that for a major character, we hardly know anything about her at the end of the film, other than the fact the she is beautiful, the object of Ben’s affection, and has two different coloured eyes (at no point does the film point this out, but look closely, one is blue and one is brown). The secondary characters are all solid, especially my favourite, Choi (Aaron Yoo from Disturbia), though Fisher’s (Jacob Pitts) schtick wears thin pretty quickly.

The second reason why I find this film so enjoyable? I’m from The OC generation. I have no qualms admitting it. 21, for lack of a better description, is an extended OC episode with slightly altered plot. There are beautiful people. There is a very trendy soundtrack, there is an outsider who gets in, there is glitz, there is glamour.

This is not a movie I watch to think. It’s mindless self indulgence.

And I love it.

What do you think of 21? What are some films you love that no-one else does?