Toon’s Review: Inception – 8/10

Apologies fans and vermin alike. It has been a long time but I am back, and so are the movies that are worth talking about. ‘Inception’ was written and directed by Christopher Nolan, a man who’s name will soon resonate as highly as Steven Spielberg’s. Rightfully so to be honest, this movie was by far the most invigorating and unique experience I have seen in a film since ‘Memento’. A movie, also by Nolan, that starts off at the end and goes backwards detailing the tragedy of a man suffering from short term memory loss. Watch it.

Your mind is the scene of the crime? Really, Mr. Marketing?

‘Inception’ starts off as an extremely awkward film, it is a film that exists in a universe where few select men have the ability to construct and traverse dreams. It wastes no time in forcing the audience to accept this reality, the parasite in me at first dulled and rejected the absurdness of it all. It was, rashly done, the start of the movie. More on this later. This movie, was not as complicated as it was made to be. In essence it’s rather rudimentary, but it was crafted with sublime deception.

Ignoring momentarily that the film starts with the end of the film. We follow the story of a man named Cobb ( Leonardo Di Caprio), an agent of sorts skilled in the trade of invading dreams and stealing thoughts. Applied in a bland industrial espionage scenario, the start of the movie sees Cobb and Arthur (his sidekick), invade the dreams of Saito (Ken Watanabe), a powerful executive. Saito, evidently aware of this attack on him by Cobb, retaliates in reality by offering Cobb the chance to redeem his life and return to his long lost family. I assume “long”, since this story had absolutely no sense of time, which was nicely done. Saito requests that instead of stealing thoughts, that Cobb plant a thought in the mind of a corporate rival Robert Fischer Jr. (Cillian Murphy) to disband his corporation. Cobb, duly accepts the offer and begins to gather a team and hatch a plan to infiltrate the mind of Fischer. Here we see the fantastic cast of supporting roles come together and flesh out the movie with life and a purpose it was largely void of till then.

Ariadne (Ellen Page) and Cobb’s first moments on screen together were like a tutorial for the audience, one long over due on just what the fruitsicles was going on. Her character was pivotal in not only explaining the dream universe to the audience, but also acting as an instrument to delve in to the mind of our hero. Through her prying we got to the core of Cobb’s struggles, his story, his life, the death of his wife and the purpose that drove him to risk the lives of his team. Unfortunately, beyond this, no other character in the movie was spared even this shred of backstory, little do we know about the history of Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) or Eames (Tom Hardy),  the bona-fide sidekick and classic wildcard characters respectively. A major dissatisfying drawback in the film, that weaved fantastical complexity over character chemistry.

Greatest. Moment. Ever.

Speaking of fantastical complexity, it was this aspect of the film which truly set it apart, and is giving everyone something to talk about at parties or job interviews (yes) or what-have-you-not. The concept of dream fabrication and manipulation was beautiful, and directed beautifully too. Seeing Paris roll over on itself, and seeing Arthur’s incredible gravity defunct scenes made me smirk like a chimp. Further more, there are a number of topics that caused prolong thought in my mind. Through large parts of the movie, you could never be sure “when” or “where” it was. A skillful move, that I think greatly outweighed the question of “how” among the audience, and also presented the deception that the whole movie was someone’s dream. Nicely done. Can you remember when Cobb was in Tokyo then Hong Kong then Paris then Morocco then Tokyo then Paris?

Apart from lacking in character depth (I admit again that it may have been intentional), there were a number of familiar niggling faults that once again lowered the quality of Nolan’s films. He proved with ‘Batman’ that he is dyslexic when it comes to shooting action sequences. In ‘Inception’, once again the quick cuts, aimless shooting, shaky cameras and awkward set piece design was embarrassing and made the fighting moments of the film feel drab. The Arctic locale was horrific, something akin to the worst of Van Damme films. Nolan is so bad at capturing the size of an action event, he simply cuts together half a second clips of  Person A shooting, skip to Person B shooting back… rather than using panning cameras or slow motion that actually show the whole macroscopic battle in action. It was a great failing in the ‘The Dark Knight’ and it makes chunks of ‘Inception’ completely forgettable. Save for Arthur’s scenes. Awesome.

Ultimately, though, ‘Inception’ was all about the fabric and process of the film. The paradox and the mazes and diving levels of reality and dreams of Cobb. The defunct ending brought attention to this open ended design of the film. Unfortunately and fortunately, by design, looking at the movie you can remember not much more than a haze of scenes very much all over the place. I respect that and think it was an enjoyable quality of the story and film-making. The story itself at its core was simple and followed the journey of a typical heist, where the most skilled robber must steal one last time to return to his family life. Looking at it from any other direction than Cobb’s is a waste of time. So silence your mindless speculation. Mal died in his reality, and she was a projection of his mind throughout every dream scape. His reality was in fact reality. The totem was going to fall, in a dream it would not lose balance. The vague perception of time and place was intentional, not a hint that what we considered Cobb’s reality, was also some sort of dream. ‘Memento’ was an interesting movie, not a satisfying one. ‘Inception’, largely treads a similar path.

Lost – A 6 Year Series in Review

Lost

Before I begin, I would like to go over ‘Lost’ briefly in the following paragraph free of any spoilers or emotional outbursts for those who are uninitiated.

I feel like I need to do this, out of respect for what was once one of the greatest shows on television. It was above all, a character piece that brought together a very diverse group of individuals through a plane crash on a remote island. It is no secret that the island was mystical in nature and possessed many bizarre apparitions that challenged the personalities of the survivors. The driving force behind the excellence of this show was the chemistry and rivalries that occurred between the various characters. An iconic battle of intellects between a man of faith versus a man of science carried the show through its first two years. Through this time we discovered many coincidental connections between all the survivors through well executed flashbacks, incidentally reinforcing the words of the man of faith. Every character had a powerful back story, a painful dissolution in their history that brought them to this island as a means of salvation. Through much trial and pain, many of our characters grew and began to let go of their past life miseries and develop bonds of fellowship as they endeavored to survive on the island, and in some cases, leave the island.

Read the rest of this entry »

Toon’s Review: Iron Man 2 – 5/10

I hate stupid people, almost as much as I hate traffic. Tony Stark at various points in the movie keeps checking his “Blood Toxicity Level”, which is steadily rising. At 56% we catch a close up of a very concerned looking Tony Stark, at which point a man sitting behind me remarks “Hey, is that a bad thing?”.

Stupid people, Scarlett Johansson is a little stupid looking I must say. I might have spelled that wrong but I could care  less since her acting is also quite incorrect, if I want eye candy I will happily open up a magazine. At least there I don’t have to put up with a formerly blonde bombshell doing cart wheels followed by her making a stupid face at the camera.

I digress as I often do. ‘Iron Man 2′ is a completely average movie, strip away the stars and you have a very poorly written story and very basic action scenes. The direction and cinematogrophy is again plain and typical. Nothing exciting save a few slow motion moments, one that almost veered into Bollywood territory. The only redeeming quality of this film is from a set of superb performances that make far better material out of a shoddy script.

‘Iron Man’ was a very average movie made good thanks to a refreshing role by Robert Downey. ‘Iron Man 2′ on the other hand is a near terrible film, made decent due to a brilliant turn by Sam Rockwell. This guy is a bloody hero in a half shell in every role he plays, and he is a welcome scene stealer in this film. Downey was exceptional as usual, its a crime that this indecent script gave these two actors absolutely no time on screen to develop a rivalry. This sentiment presents itself through out the movie. It is a mix of too many ideas and too many plot points, none of which are presented well. Tony Stark’s fall from grace is awkward, his anger towards Rhodey becoming War Machine was poorly developed and absolutely no time was given to the Hammer vs. Stark dilemma.

‘Iron Man 2′ is an unsatisfying film, the action was pathetic and the film as whole has no personality or style save Rockwell and Downey. Jon Favreu’s last movie before ‘Iron Man’ was ‘Zathura’, he got away with it a few years ago but his inept ability as a director is clearly evident in this utterly bland film. Maybe the inherent problem lies in the Iron Man suit itself, it is a fancy terminator. He is just not as cool as Green Lantern.

Buddy boys.

There's that face.

Fringe – Why It’s The Best Show on Television.

Fringe is by far the greatest show on television right now. I am a big believer in characters, and the leading trio of ‘Fringe’ present intriguing personalities brought to life by a set of brilliant actors (John Noble, Anna Torv and Joshua Jackson). The show brings to the viewers a unique science fiction story with superlative drama overtones and severe human conflicts. Its main premise revolves around a gifted F.B.I. agent working with a ‘Fringe Science’ division, investigating strange incidents occurring around the world. The events are connected, to an overarching story concerning a world where two universes exist side to side, and the hunt of technology trying to sever the barrier between the two.

It may sound absurd, like any good science fiction story. However what takes ‘Fringe’ to another level is the human conflicts it creates within its framework. A world where there is more than one of everything, a world where a scientist who lost his son to cancer could crossover to the other side and steal him from a world in which he hasn’t died, yet.

The intensity of ‘Fringe’ makes the drama between Jack and Locke in ‘Lost’, look like a Simon and Garfunkle argument. This show is patient, it spends episodes on end to simply provide depth to its many superb characters.  Scenes that carry no weight to the overall story are simply fascinating to watch in ‘Fringe’, as they continually serve to evolve the characters and their conflicts. Ultimately this all serves to bond you to the greater science fiction story at play, and the stakes that each character has invested. It provides emotional weight to the episodes that delve in to fascinating paranormal situations, and it is this critical connection that makes science fiction an absolutely wonderful experience.

That my imaginative readers, is what you call great television.

Toon’s Review: Kick-Ass – 9/10

Kick-Ass

What I loved about this movie more than anything else, and there’s a lot of else by the way, is that it is the rarest blend of comedic prose, stylistic action and emotional overtone come together on screen. Honestly this film is just a mismatch of ideas, but kudos to Matthew Vaughn for bringing together some absolutely wonderful characters. It was pretty sweet seeing his gang of misfits from ‘Lock, Stock’ and ‘Snatch’ littered around the movie as well.

The story of ‘Kick-Ass’ follows a protagonist teenager questioning society’s will to stand up for each other, protect each other from the evil that dwells in our streets. Upon experiencing and seeing evil men prosper while the good just stand and stare, the young man decided to undertake the superhero dilemma and make himself ‘Kick-Ass’. His superhero experiment fell short however, and attracted the attention of some unfortunately proper villains. Luckily, and little did he know, the vigilante superhero did exist, and it was named Big Daddy and Hit Girl.

If you’ve seen the trailers for this film, I’m sure you know what to expect from Hit Girl but what truly took this film a notch above is understanding and experiencing the character. She is bloody fantastic, little do I know how they made little her do all those little stunts, but golly gosh its a sight to behold. The best action this side of ‘The Matrix’, comprendé bro.

I can’t stress enough the perfect balance this movie struck between comedy, action and story. One element just served to elevate the other. The characters are equal parts entertaining and emotionally poignant, with each of their stories fleshed out surprisingly well within the short two hours. You feel for Kick-Ass, you might laugh after his mother dies discussing cereal, but you will feel for his loss when he makes the biggest mistake of his life. It is funny when he gets stabbed, and then shocking when he gets hit by a car. You root for Big Daddy’s revenge and cheer for Hit Girl’s ass kicking. I am a big believer in characters, and this film simply delivers them in spades. Just a bloody fantastic movie that genuinely has something for every one of us, highly recommended my friends. Aslam out.

Get out of my way, Stool.

Toonstar is finishing university soon. Toonstar is about to take this site to a whole new level soon. Toonstar needs to stop speaking in third person, soon.

Stay tuned. Or I’ll just let you know on facebook.

Toon’s Review: The Hurt Locker – 9/10

Every now and then, you see these films that leave a lasting impression on you. Either it’s a devastating scene, a memorable song or maybe a powerful line that you will forever remember. ‘The Hurt Locker’ contains spades of each, Katheryn  Bigelow’s direction produces some of the finest most raw moments in film I have seen in a long time.’The Hurt Locker’ is simply an exceptional film, worthy of contemplation over the scenes of war it portrays.

Believe those quotations.

This film stretches a brief period of time in the Iraq war, following three members of an elite bomb squad through their motions. Literally a day by day renunciation of these soldiers, we see them experience such catastrophe, such pure warfare and the toll it takes on their minds. This movie though, is just so much more than that. Every character, acted brilliantly, directed brilliantly, faces so many challenges every day and never has it been captured so authentically.

I love how real this film feels, the sound direction is epic and so poignant, every bullet carries so much weight. The explosions are captured with such a phenomenal intensity, the almost too real writing of this film added a level of suspense you barely see in films anymore. Simply, it’s a great movie experience when the fate of every character is questionable as every minute passes. I can’t begin to commend how well Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty carry the three lead roles.

This film, it doesn’t try to be dramatic by throwing a melodramatic story out there. A villain that must be caught, a dame that must be rescued or a mission that is imperative to the success of the war. In fact, there really is no story, no bad guy to catch and no heart stopping epic battle to save the war. This film, all it is, is a set of situations, exposure to experiences that change and grow the character of our protagonists. Through this, I feel this film captures one of the most brilliant renditions of war on film. It’s a series of skirmishes, especially this war, this urban war that has taken over Iraq, there is no one bad guy, there is no one key that will turn the tide of the war, it is the definition of ongoing, it has taken its toll, dare I say millions, of lives, and its not going to end.

Although I do have one significant criticism, I’ll say that this film only conveys the evil on one side of the war, whereas a film like ‘The Kingdom’ was just fantastic in showing a sense of wrong on both sides. But for what it is, a capture of war, this film, it will put you in awe of the power man’s weapons’ possess, and it will show you what war will do to a man, and it will make you feel a genuine sense of pain for what’s happening out there.

Such brilliant cinematography

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