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By otakuman5000 On 3 Jul, 2012 At 05:29 AM | Categorized As Reviews | With 2 Comments

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Inception is like no other film you’ve ever experienced. Sure, we’ve all seen our fair share of alternate realities in film before – The Matrix obviously comes to mind – but what Christopher Nolan has created here is a film which crosses a courageous line only few filmmakers would ever attempt. With films such as Memento (2000), and his grand re-imagining of Batman, we know Nolan’s not afraid to do just that.

Speaking of Memento, it’s said that Nolan began writing Inception‘s screenplay during the filming of it. A decade-long writing job for any film would seem like overkill, but when it comes to this film, it’s not necessarily crazy, once you think about it. The amount of work creating the multi-layered story, especially writing it in such a way as to make it understandable to the viewer, would have been a very daunting task. Luckily, we have plot points and characters holding our hands throughout the story’s progression, but without making it feel annoyingly obvious.

Cobb (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) is a skilled extractor, someone who goes into the manipulated dreams of others to extract ideas, secrets, information, whatever it is he needs from his target. The ability to do this comes from the Portable Automated Somnacin IntraVenous (PASIV) Device, an extraordinary machine with injectors you attach to your arm, placing you in the dream world almost instantly. While in the dream, his mission is to acquire what he needs and get out. However, it’s not so simple because there are some rules and risks to adhere to and be aware of.

After a failed mission, Cobb receives an offer quite like in The Godfather: an offer he can’t refuse, consisting of the chance to, upon completion, go home to his children whom he hasn’t seen in some time. It’s no surprise that this mission (a “Mission: Impossible” of sorts) isn’t going to be so easy… He must plant an idea in a man’s head causing him to wake up from the dream a changed man. Although this may not sound difficult, the film explains it all quite clearly, and that is where the title of the film comes in.

He’ll need help along the way, so he assembles a team of very talented people. Among them are Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a trusty longtime partner; Eames (Tom Hardy), a skilled manipulator; Yusuf (Dileep Rao), an excellent chemist; and a newcomer, Ariadne (Ellen Page), a brilliant young architect recommended by Cobb’s intelligent father-in-law, Miles (Michael Caine), who introduces him to Ariadne and her talents.

I could actually tell you the entirety of Inception‘s story and, even then, you wouldn’t be spoiled. In this film, there are no real plot points, no twists, that someone could ruin for the viewer. For the most part, knowing anything before seeing the film unravel for itself brings you no further to knowing what is actually going on without seeing it first, and describing Inception isn’t exactly an easy thing to do… Seeing it is the only thing that matters, and the only true way to know what it’s all about.

The acting in the film, as a whole, is very well done. As with Page, I’ve personally never seen DiCaprio do a questionable acting job in any film, and Inception continues that tradition… the rest of his team is no different. The demand for top-notch drama isn’t here, but it doesn’t need to be. Some drama elements are included, though, highlighting the story of Cobb and his ex-wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard), who is a much more important character in the film than simply being a partner presence or love interest.

When it comes to the action sequences, you can tell they’re very “Nolan” – by that I mean extremely well executed, even if the scenes may sometimes seem reminiscent, on the surface, of others we’ve seen before. (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol was quite the same.) What makes these scenes different, however, is the emotional weight to them. You care more for the characters involved rather than thinking of their inclusion being exploited for a body count, or just characters to fill in the film. There are also several excellent scenes involving changes in gravity and rotation to be remembered, for sure – these scenes are quite intriguing to say the least.

The films of today usually consist of many recycled elements from other films, and we’re often bombarded by sequels, prequels, re-imaginations, and reboots. While there are a few similarities you may notice between this film and others like it, Inception remains a remarkable piece of film-making that is intelligent, thought-provoking, and still highly original. As with any film, some of what is in Inception may be a little less impressive as years come and go, but the story, intelligent layers, and creativity will surely never be forgotten. Nolan has impressed me several times before, but even his epic-action powerhouse, The Dark Knight, may have been dethroned by this film (and this is coming from an avid Batman fan).

One of the best things a filmmaker can do is make an excellent film knowing only they could have pulled it off so masterfully. (I can only assume Kubrick would agree.) What Nolan has done with Inception is made something that has never quite been done before, and at the same time, a film that may never be attempted again. The roadmap to this film is lost in a dream, and that is a great thing, indeed.

Mike’s rating score: 10/10
Mike’s liking score: 09/10

NOTES:
Inception won four 2011 Academy Awards: Best Achievement in Cinematography; Best Achievement in Visual Effects; Best Achievement in Sound Editing; and Best Achievement in Sound Mixing. It was also nominated for another four: Best Writing, Original Screenplay; Best Achievement in Art Direction; Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score; and Best Motion Picture of the Year.
Inception won the AFI Movie of the Year award (2010).

By Charles On 21 Dec, 2010 At 03:10 PM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, Editorials, Nintendo DS, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

No GravatarWow, is the year over already? Doesn’t feel all that long ago that I was shoveling snow and preparing for Katsucon, and now it’s already Christmas and I can close the curtains on 2010. A lot happened this year, a lot was released, and there was no way for me to experience it all. But there were always the gems that stuck out, and now, in no particular order, I present my 10 memories of 2010.

Inception: The word “mind****” doesn’t begin to describe this one. Christopher Nolan’s journey into the subconscious explored the nature of ideas, control, infiltration, and a lot of other cerebral themes, acted out by a top-notch corps of actors completely at home with their roles. Stunning, provocative, and thoroughly enjoyable- easily the best film I saw this year…and probably a few years previous as well.

The Karate Kid: Save your criticisms and comparisons- Karate Kid 2010 lives up to the theme, flavor and story of the original, just bigger, flashier and more escapist. Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan prove to be every bit as much the surrogate family as Ralph Macchio and the late Pat Morita. This isn’t a remake, its a re-envisioning, and a worthy homage to a coming of age classic. Set your doubts aside and give this one a watch, you will not be disappointed.

Toy Story 3 and Tangled: I can not, nor will I, choose between these two movies. Both are Disney fare (one Pixar, one not, both produced by Pixar head and Ghibli fanboy John Lasseter), both have compelling characters, excellent dialogue, entertaining story, beautiful animation and plenty of re-watching potential. Both have appeal far beyond their “target” audience, and redefine what a “childrens” movie can do. And both show just how much one can accomplish with digital graphics and good writing. If only all Disney movies were this good- Dreamworks take note, the bar has been raised.

Cataclysm: World of Warcraft’s third expansion shows how this is not just a game, it’s a way of life. Ratcheted up difficulty, new races, new class combinations, and a world completely altered by the eruption of the dragon Deathwing, Cataclysm takes the old world and throws it violently into the future, dragging its players along with it. New travelers will find the game tough but fair, old hats were remember the days of “Vanilla” and explorers will see their beloved planet forever changed. But be warned, this is no cakewalk- you need to fight if you want to survive.

Anime Boston: Joining the ranks of older, “more established” conventions, Anime Boston proved in 2010 that there’s more to con life than just meme shouting and questionable cosplay. A strong variety of panels, diverse activities, a devoted pool of guests and (some 17000+) attendees, and the largest Artist Alley of any con on the East Coast, set against one of the nicest cities to visit in the country, Anime Boston is the perfect entryway for newcomers, and a shining light in the often scary landscape of fan conventions. Not bad at all for a con that isn’t even a decade old yet.

Angry Birds: Whoever thought the idea of launching birds at pigs would be so addictive, or challenging. As many other portable gaming devices showcase advanced graphics and ports of older, “classic” games, Rovio’s 2D lesson in physics and warfare silently became the most played, and most addictive, handheld game this year. Problem solving, random explosions, aerial bombardment and a whole lot of trial and error led to this sleeper hit being the top rated and downloaded app on the Apple Network. Need more evidence? When this game hit the Android Network in mid-October, it crashed the download servers and many uses spent the better part of a day trying to grab it (I was one of them). Who would have thought something so simple would be so powerful in the end.

Durarara: A pleasant slice of life anime centered around the experiences of three high school freshmen (two guys, one girl) living alone in the big city of Tokyo. Throw in serial “Slashers,” romance, escalating gang tensions, a Celtic shinigami searching for her missing head, a pair of insufferable otaku, a seemingly bored villain who does things for kicks and a guy who throws vending machines at people when he’s angry, and you have what might be the best anime released in Japan in years. A series of related events told through multiple sets of eyes, DRRR manages to be a simple pleasure set in complicated times.

Shikabane-Hime: Death, regrets, loyalty, devotion, Buddhism, monsters and buxom girls- Corpse Princess blends all of this into one slow building but extremely satisfying experience that explores the idea of death and how certain people either cope with it, or run from it. Very few shows look at the often complicated Buddhist view of death, defilement and corruption with as much attention or exposition as this one, and very few are as graphic. It’s a rare find to stumble across a complete package, and this one is complete in every sense of the word.

Doctor Who: After 2 years absence, the BBC hit series returned with a vengeance (and a new Doctor) on Easter weekend, and never looked back. Bigger, fancier, better was the mantra behind this stylish vision of a 900 year old time-traveling “Doctor” and his female companion, as they battled vampires, weeping angels, and aliens, ran alongside roman legions and Vincent Van Gogh, and saved the universe (again) from calamity and destruction. Any doubts about this season were dispelled, as newcomer Matt Smith capably played the title character, and was upstaged at times by both costar Karen Gillam as spunky companion Amelia Pond and perennial fan favorite Alex Kingston as the mysterious River Song. Not a flawless entry into the 47 year old Doctor Who story, but damn close.

Honorable Mentions: It would be a shame to end this list without at least pointing out these other gems.

Kuroshitsuji: A Victorian tale about a boy and his (demon) butler. The anime is fun, if a little fan serviced, but the manga is a great read.

Unstoppable: A disaster movie that wasn’t itself a disaster, mostly due to excellent camera work and the skills of its leads, Denzel Washington and Chris Pine.

Fable 3: Not quite what Peter Molyneaux promised, but the closest his vision has ever come to perfection.

Resonance of Fate: A solid JRPG for the 360, right when we needed one. Being a bit steampunk didn’t hurt either.

Anime USA: Like Anime Boston, just smaller and more centrally located.

Shutter Island: Less mind-blowing than Inception, but still a fantastic psychological thriller, set in an insane asylum on an island far from land.

Kick Ass: Bloody, violent and profane don’t even begin to describe this excellent film adaptation of the Millar/Romita graphic novel about a kid who wants to be a superhero.

Dragon Quest IX: The latest installment in the long running JRPG series arrived on the DS over the summer. All the experience of an MMORPG without lag and monthly fees.

AMV Hell 5: Long awaited, but thankfully not stale. The latest installment in the AMV spoofing series delivered less laughs than previous outings, but was still entertaining.

Supernatural: The 5th season of the CW monster-hunting drama ended with the apocalypse, but not before the world went to hell first. Pure cheese, but tasty.