Tag Archives: 2011-01-09

Inception

Some films are there to purely entertain, some are to encourage you to think and ask questions.  It’s a rare flick that manages to include both elements to sufficiently please a diverse crowd of people.  I knew the basic premise of Inception before I watched it,  and I was expecting to be confused after hearing some comments.  But it’s not actually a confusing movie.  I was expecting to be left asking questions when I saw the ending, but for me personally, I think the questions were answered.

Inception is a story of dreams and the people who can enter them to extract information.  Much more detail than that and you begin to ruin the story, which I’ll try to avoid.  It’s set in a contemporary or very-near-future setting, and sees our main protagonist Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) unable to return to his family and seeking employment as an extractor.

This leads us on a journey across continents and into dreams, where we being to question what is truth and what is real, along with Cobb and the supporting cast.  The story is truly interesting, the characters are engaging and the pace is pretty solid.  There are some moments where I felt things were under-explained, not to add mystery but almost because they ran out of time, but overall it’s a solid, cohesive story.

I didn’t find the visual effects particularly breathtaking and I think too much emphasis has been placed on them in the trailers or hype running up to the film.  This is a pretty personal story and any effects are really there to encourage us to believe what we’re seeing is not real.  There is however one set of scenes in which one of the characters operates in zero-gravity, that I thought were exceptionally well done.  This isn’t an action movie, although it has a lot of action, and it’s not a sci-fi movie although it has some speculative fictional elements, and it’s not a love story despite a core element of it being about a relationship between two people.  It’s hard to place it into a single genre.

What it is, is very engaging.  You do have to think, not to keep track or work out what is going on, but to question what you’re seeing and why, and if what the characters believe is even true.  Through multiple layers, both on a story level, and a dream level, we are encouraged to consider whether what is happening is real or not, at every stage.  It’s very hard to write a review without giving away too much.

I enjoyed watching it, and I’ll want to watch it again to see nuances I may have missed first time, but it didn’t leave me punching the air or grinning like a fool.  It left me considering Nolan’s brilliance, and the performances of some of the actors (personally I think Joseph Gordon-Levitt is excellent, and likewise Ellen Page), and the self referential ending.

The movie starts with the concept that ideas are like viruses, and it ends with a question that plants an idea and leaves you wondering, if you want to.  Well worth watching, well worth talking about, and considering it’s an original screenplay, pretty impressive stuff.

The A-Team

In a year filled with ensemble action movies, The A-Team was surely the one with the best known back story?  Maybe that didn’t do it any favours.  While many of us loved the series, at the time, countless repeats and plenty of piss taking later meant there were concerns about it transferring to the big screen.

Would the new actors be able to pull off the old characters?  Would it feel like a sad pastiche?  Would we accept the new faces in the old roles?  Would they be bogged down by the memories of countless episodes in which no one gets seriously injured, not even the bad guys?  Would a modern audience accept the ludicrous solutions the team are well known for?

I’d heard mixed reviews about the film before sitting down to watch it – and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.  Someone I know said ‘do they expect us to believe this shit?’  Well, my answer is no, they don’t.  They know it’s unbelievable, but they don’t care.  If you want to enjoy this movie you’ll take the step and willingly suspend your disbelief.  If you have no intention or ability to do that – then the director isn’t interested in trying to entertain you.

The A-Team tells the story of how the famous four get together, the crime they are supposed to have committed and the attempt at clearing their own names.  It’s a contemporary set-up for the series, a prequel, and as such a very clever decision.  Just another long episode would have been harder to pull off, but giving us the start of the story in an up-to-date setting worked very well.

The actors take on the roles without ever really trying to do second rate impressions of the previous team, for which I was quite grateful.  There’s a moment early in the movie where they crush BA’s van which is almost a statement from the director – yes, these are the same guys, but no, this is not the same cheesy 80’s series.

From that moment the action ramps up and we are led through a series of chases, captures, and betrayals that get us to the defining moment – when the team must break out of prison, prove their innocence and save the girl.

It’s funny, it’s totally entertaining and it’s entirely insane.  It’s everything that was good about the A-Team without the 80’s cheese, instead, it brings along the 80’s vibe and the 80’s good feeling.  There’s clearly room for a sequel, and I’d quite happily go and see it.