Thursday, December 20, 2012

Inception (2010)

Inception is a brilliant film with a unique, mind-boggling plot, filled with intense sequences that would keep you on the edge of your seat. You’ve got to pay close attention if you don’t want to get lost in order to follow the complex layers of dreams. Christopher Nolan tried so hard to ensure that this project remains discreet, now I understand why he went through the trouble. Just one piece of information could spoil the whole story so if you’re planning on seeing it soon, don’t worry I won’t ruin it! Or will I?

Dom Cobbs, portrayed by Leonardo DiCarprio, is the most skilled extractor who knows all the tricks and techniques incorporated in order to extract any secrets from your mind by delving inside your dreams. He’s got one last job, and perhaps the most complicated of all: he must perform inception, which is the act of implanting an idea in a person’s subconscious mind. In addition, this final mission will reunite him with his family, the highly anticipated moment that would wash away all his guilt and regrets of the past. He gathers a team composed of a point man, Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt); an architect, Ariadne (Ellen Page); a forger, Eames; a chemist, Yusuf; and Saito (Ken Watanabe), who will give Cobb what he wants if he completes this mission.

The film duration is 2 ½ hours. You get 50 minutes to adjust to this new, fascinating world until the mission actually begins. This may seem like it’s dragging excessively and is laying too many pipes but the audience is captivated by the extraordinary visuals during the interference of dreams despite the lengthy inception. As soon as you reach the last epic scene, which is approximately the second half of the movie since there are scenes within this scene, you’re entirely engrossed in the film as the minutes tick away. Christopher Nolan brilliantly depicted how every dream within a dream appears slower than the previous dream as he flashes back and forth between the 4 levels. That leaves 4 timers ticking as the team executes inception!

However, Inception has a few flaws. There are several prolonged scenes with Mal (Marion Cotillard) that seem to drag. Also, some of the characters’ lines are not clearly stated so it’s hard to understand what they are saying, which is an issue since that’s what establishes the plot of the whole movie. Cillian Murphy is well casted as Robert Fischer Jr. but his character wasn’t completely developed. First, he appears nearly halfway into the film and at the end it’s hard to recall his purpose in the film!

Overall, I love Inception’s intricate twists and it definitely leaves me pondering at the end. The CGI Effects are phenomenal, ranging from massive buildings bending within enfolding cities to the explosive chaos of crumbling dreams! It must have taken them forever to film the scene of the revolving hotel hallway where Arthur fights projections with only seconds to spare in order to improvise a “kick” simulation.
Han Zimmer, one of my favorite composers, created the soundtracks for this film. It’s absolutely perfect! I’m listening to it as I type! These sophisticated soundtracks doubles the escalating intensity. First comes the delicate violins or strumming of guitars as the action picks up then the brass starts blasting in your ears!

By now you’ve probably realized that this is not for the Die Hard fans, it’s an intellectual psychological thriller. Sure, there are a lot of intense action sequences, but this is one of those movies that make you think deeper. I suggest watching it a second time if you exit the theater mystified.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Looper (2012)

Looper - the most original action movie in recent years that has its dark moments, bursts of violence, and dramatic scenes. In year 2074, criminals have developed a system of disposing their victims, who are sent back in time to be executed by specialized assassins known as Loopers.

Rian Johnson did an absolutely terrific job, as the style and stunning visuals are some of this film’s strongest and most appealing attributes. I love the film’s concept of time traveling, assassins, and “closing the loop”. The rules of time travel vary within each film, and in Looper, the future Joe begins to see double vision as his memories are altered based on the change of events in the past Joe’s life. When the film provides two different timelines with a glimpse of Joe’s future life in Shanghai, its montage captures the essence of a life full of crime. Also, I find it interesting how the idea of telekinesis was incorporated in this film.

One particular scene with Seth was truly memorable. Rian Johnson created such a disturbing and frightening scene with minimal gore. Rather, the music, pacing, and acting paint a gruesome image in the audience’s mind. In terms of soundtrack, I love the song used in the trailer because it matches the editing of the action sequences perfectly, delivering powerful blows and enhancing the futuristic atmosphere.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, and Bruce Willis were fantastic in portraying their roles. It’s fascinating and quite convincing how Levitt wore prosthetics to resemble a younger Bruce Willis and how he imitated Willis’ mannerisms. I feared that the prosthetics would be unrealistic or distracting, but it was neither.

The first half of the film taking place in the city was fascinating due to the stylish directing and noir elements, which were exceptional, but waned off towards the middle. Once Joe arrives at the farm, the shift in tone seems to result in an entirely different film with more drama. Ultimately, this is a unique action film with distinctive elements that draw me into the story as I am introduced to the world of Loopers.