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Inception (2010)

What’s the most resilient parasite? An Idea. A single idea from the human mind can build cities. An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules. Which is why I have to steal it.

— Dominic Cobb

Inception is one of my most anticipated films of the summer. I was worried that this movie was hyped up too much for me to enjoy fully enjoy it. It is currently the #3 Movie of All Time on IMDb. That scares me, because the same thing happened with The Dark Knight. I did not see the theatrical trailer, read any reviews or look at the promos for this movie. I wanted to go into this movie fresh with no bias whatsoever. All I thought about when I saw this movie was making it a drinking game, hearing the word “dream” uttered.

This mind-bending movie is about how complex the human mind can truly be when an extractor Dominic Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) has the ability to go into people minds. He’s sorta like a mental bodyguard that provides security for his clients’ important secrets, but he ultimately steals from them.

He is outsmarted by a shady businessman, Saito (Ken Watanabe) who wants to use Dom and his associates to penetrate the mind of his rival’s son, Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy). In return for his participation, Saito will reunite Dom with the family that he abandoned when his wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard) kills herself to make it look like he did it.

Dom puts together his team together with his researcher that creates a dossier on their mark, Arthur (Joseph Gordon Levitt), his shifter to trick the subject to be any person in the dream, Eames (Tom Hardy) and the chemist who will inject the team with a special sedative that will allow them to sleep, Yusuf (Dileep Rao).

They need an architect which is essentially a person that could create and keep up the façade of delving into a person’s mind. Dom goes to his former professor; Miles (Michael Caine) to enlist a person that could be as good as him sense his memories about Mal easily distract him. Miles suggests Ariadne (Ellen Page), who is quickly tested about discerning what reality is and what is not.

On an international flight after Fischer’s father, Maurice (Pete Postlethwaite) dies, the team drugs Fischer. When the team goes into Fischer’s mind, they didn’t realize that his mind would be heavily fortified with a projected army that could threaten their mission and their only way to wake up.

What can I say about this movie? I understand that Nolan wanted to make a cinematic version of M.C. Escher painting about how the mind play tricks on you. I thought I was tricked. At first, I didn’t know what the hell was going on. When Ellen Page’s character came in, she was like the audience who is trying to understand this world she knows nothing about. The endless exposition doesn’t help matters when random characters try to tell you about the human psyche. It’s like you are sitting in a long boring lecture in college.

My brain broke with this movie. I could not follow it worth a damn. I wanted to follow along, but I got lost somewhere in the first hour of this 2 ½ hour opus. I tried to focus on Dom’s guilt over his wife’s death. That went away. Next, I tried to focus on the action with seemed like it came out of The Matrix with a tinge of a Lionel Ritchie video thrown in there. Lastly, I tried to hold on to the ending which is ambiguous and up to your personal interpretation. If you know that the ending is coming, it’s not fun.

This film is not fun or cool. If it was something like Primer about a dialogue that went over my head, but was still cool, I would understand. I was yawning in this movie. I lowered my expectations with this movie because of the hype that The Prestige got and I hated that movie. I think this movie tried to be too ambitious. I got nothing out of it.

The whole idea of going into people’s minds sounds good on paper, but onscreen you’re like, “Who gives a fuck about the different levels of the mind.” The whole reasoning behind the inception mission was petty and selfish. I believe Christopher Nolan created this movie for himself to enjoy. It seems that he has to dumb it down for the audience with endless amounts of exposition. It seems arrogant and condescending. I’m insulted by the notion. I expected more.

Judgment: This movie is like a Rubik Cube that never gets solved. Don’t bother trying.

Rating: **

Drag Me to Hell (2009)

You’d be surprised what you’ll be willing to do, when the Lamia comes for you.

— Rham Jas

Don’t hate for this proclamation, but I am not familiar with Sam Raimi’s comedic horror past with The Evil Dead series. I should visit them in the future, but I thought I would start with Raimi going back to his roots with Drag Me to Hell. This movie freaked me out.

A plucky loan officer, Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) longs to be assistant manager at her bank, but she is constantly undermined by ass kisser, Stu (Reggie Lee). Her boss, Mr. Jacks (David Paymer) is deciding between the two of them. In order for her to get the position, she needs to make tough decision to secure it.

As by maligned fate, a decrepit woman Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver) appears at her desk, asking Christine to stop the repossession of her house. With two extensions under her belt, there is nothing for Christine to do. She decides to turn her down. Mrs. Ganush begs her to try to save house. Christine stands her ground. Mrs. Ganush pounces on Christine and is forced out.

When Christine is going to her car after work, she is attacked by Mrs. Ganush who felt that she has publicly shamed her. They fight. Christine thinks she defeated her, but the old hag got the upper hand reciting an incantation by using a button from her jacket. She hands the button back to Christine.

Visibly shaken from the ordeal Christine wants to get her fortune read when strange occurrences start to happen. Her boyfriend, Clay Dalton (Justin Long) goes with her. The fortune teller Rham Jas (Dileep Rao) says that she has been cursed by the old woman. A dark spirit surrounds her. Clay is skeptical of the fortune teller’s powers.

After Christine arrives home alone, she hears strange noises in her house when she is alone. She sees a demonic figure. A doctor thinks that it’s post-traumatic stress disorder because of the attack. In the middle of night, a fly enters her body. She thinks it’s not real but she can here is buzzing inside her. She begins to see the old woman in nightmarish hallucinations.

She tries to get back with Mrs. Ganush to ask her for forgiveness, but she is recently died. She goes back to the Rham Jas; he tells her about the dark spirit that is haunting her. It is called a lamia, which takes the possessor of the cursed object to Hell. He offers alternative to rid of the curse. She wants to do anything to not be condemned to hell in three days time.

I thought that this movie would be a cup of tea. Damn, I was sucked into this movie. The genesis of how Christine got the curse was a little ridiculous, but I could forgive it because of nature of the movie. Besides I think the posters and the trailer kinda give away the ending. That’s unfortunate.

Judgment: It’s a wild ride that everyone should get on board.

Rating: ****1/2

Avatar (2009)

Everything is backwards now, like out there is the true world and in here is the dream.

— Jake Sully

Avatar has been swimming around the mind of James Cameron for almost twenty years. I read the blurbs about two thirds of this movie will be completely computer generated and it will be in 3D. When I saw the trailers for this movie, I was not impressed. It was not my must-see. I went into this movie with low expectations. By the final shot of movie, I was glad that spent the past two and half hours in Pandora.

Taking place in 2154, a paraplegic ex-Marine, Cpl. Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is asked to take the place of his twin brother, Tom who was recently murdered to a mission on the alien planet of Pandora. It has colonized by humans who want to gain access to a precious metal called Unobtanium that could help solve their energy crisis. The mission is headed by the power hungry Parker Selfridge (Giovanni Ribsi).

There is one major problem that stand in their way, the native inhabitants of the planet called the Na’vi. They are ten-foot blue creatures that are very resourceful and would kill anymore that threaten their land.

Jake is taken to Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) who is heading up the Avatar program, which infuses human DNA wit that of the Na’vi. She doesn’t think that a guy with no training should meld his mind into the avatar, but she has no choice. Jake will be her security escort when the team explores the vast forests of the planet.

When Jake wakes up in the avatar, he cannot believe that he has the power of walk again. He is like a kid in a candy store. On a routine scouting mission, Jake is confronted by ferocious Pandorian animals that force him way from the group. Rescue efforts by team with the help of pilot, Trudy Chacon (Michelle Rodgriguez) had to be suspended until the next morning.

Alone in the now fluorescent wonderland, Jake has to fend for himself against potential predators. A young Na’vi girl, Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) helps Jake fend off some predators when Neytiri’s tribe headed by her brother, Tsu’tey (Laz Alonzo) confronts the duo. Jake is taken to the village where Neytiri’s parents, Eytukan and Moat (Wes Studi, CCH Pounder) want to learn more about the outsider. With a single ritual by Moat, Jake has gained a way into the Na’vi inner circle.

Taking advantage of the opportunity is hotshot Col. Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) who wants Jake to infiltrated the way of life of the Na’vi; learn their language, customs and other rituals in order to gain access the rich Unobtanium deposit that is in the Na’vi homeland. The colonel promises if he could get the Na’vi to leave the land after three months, then Jake could get a new pair of working legs.

As Jake begins the lessons with Neytiri appointed by her mother to do, he realizes that he is not sure what side to fight for, the humans or the Na’vi.

There have been comparisons of this movie to Dances with Wolves. I can see that, but the movie is much more than that. The movie is manifest destiny and retelling the history of any indigenous people that have massacred by another race, because they are different from them only from the natives perspective. The Native Americans, the Aborigines, the Incas, the Mayans, the Aztecs have been affected by “civilizing the savages”. Maybe the people doing the killing are the true savages. I also got the feeling that this movie could be a mirror for the War on Terror.

The computer generated shot were seamless and I forgot that I looking a computer generated blue alien for a while. The environments were gorgeous to behold. The depth and scope were breathtaking, but I wonder will the movie lose its impact if it comes out on DVD. It’s not going to be the same experience seeing the movie in 2D, instead of 3D.

The movie is not perfect. I saw the movie in the true fashion that he wanted, in 3D. I felt that some of the effects were made a little sloppy at times when you can clearly see something that was put in the foreground in the real life shot. There were some pacing problems that I had with last third of the movie. The plot of the movie is not unique. The characters are not well-developed, but Neytiri was the best character in the whole movie. I was bothered about some parts in the ending, which I will discuss in the spoiler section.

Judgment: This is movie event of the year. This is a must-see in 3D.

Rating: ****

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