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Inception (2010)
9 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
9/10, really? Must be some sort of flocking behavior, 31 January 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Inception is an interesting movie without a doubt (refer to one of the countless other reviews for why that is). What I am going to focus on is why I think it's not a 9/10 which is what the IMDb voters on average have given it. I will also make the presumption you have seen the movie, as it's not productive to repeat the plot. The second reason is because a fair amount of time has gone since I saw the movie (twice), and although that means I've had lots of time to think it through, I don't remember all the details.

First, let me state the most immediate reason to why I didn't like the movie that much: The second half of the movie is a long string of bog standard action sequences. Yes, it's trying to be tense, but it doesn't manage to surprise me one bit - the ending is nearly completely predictable. Throughout, I care about only a few of the characters, and about none of the endless imaginary minions they are facing. If this fairly large flaw had been absent, the movie would at least have been a 9/10 for me.

Now for the more subtle problems: I feel that not enough was done to emphasize that the mission takes place in a dream world. Most of the time, the movie's "dream" world is indistinguishable to the real world. This similarity is intended (it is argued that the dreamer otherwise would become suspicious and wake up, or reject inception). Unfortunately, it means there are few chances to surprise us... That's where we return to "bog standard action sequences": Sure there are a few cool twists that illustrate the characters are in a dream, like the city being turned upside down; but these devices are for the most part absent once the inception mission starts, and thus have minor impact in total.

Obviously, this movie defies all physical laws, which would be okay if there is an alternative set of rules to cover for reality. It doesn't have such a coherent rule set however; instead, it is mostly reminiscent of movies where anything convenient is made up for whatever is supposed to be happening on screen. The bad guys perform wildly differently depending on whether the protagonists are supposed to be able to escape or not, rules for various dream levels diverge too much, and so on. In short, the script fails to lend itself credibility - one cannot simply say "it's a dream, we don't have to care about plausibility".

Aside from more than a few inconsistencies and 'too implausible to be believable'-facts, is is noticeable the background story/universe is mostly invented from scratch for this film. Perhaps it would have benefited Inception if a clearer connection to some existing religious or other fantasy theme had been made. We can only speculate for now, but I do hope someone decides to make another movie with the "entering dreams of others" theme with stronger ties to some existing mythology.

All in all, these complaints are pretty minor (except for the aforementioned way Inception attempts too much to be an action/thriller movie towards the latter parts). I'm giving it 7/10, since it made me stare at my watch several times to determine when I would no longer have to endure more clinical action sequences without substance.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Could've been Lord of the Ring'ish, now it is just eye candy without substance, 9 January 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I think the easiest way to assess this movie is to compare it to the Lords of the Rings movies by Peter Jackson, because this movie is at the surface similar to those.

The effects are on the level of LotR. No negatives here.

What the movie lacks severely in comparison to LotR is story development and character development.

To see the flaws, it's enough to watch the first few minutes of the film. Perseus is found by a fisherman and adopted. Between this and Perseus reaching adulthood, only two minutes of screen time is taken. We only learn that Perseus is some kind of son of the gods; no character development is attempted beyond that.

Then we're thrown at some kind of fishing trip where (except complaining about bad results) eventually they spot a giant statue of Zeus. Perseus' father expresses his admiration of it, but a few seconds later it turns out soldiers are actually cutting its feet off. "WHAT ARE THEY DOING???" "They have declared war, war upon the gods!!" This should be enough to illustrate how the viewer is thrown from scene to scene without any build up. Whereas a sentence such as "they have declared...war upon the gods" would have carried weight if there had been a deeper context, it is just hollow words in this movie.

Then, some nice special effects happen, and (here is a spoiler, but it doesn't matter), Perseus' father gets drowned due to supernatural causes. Do we as viewers feel much about this? Not really. Again, we don't know the character who dies, except by the sum of one minute of generic rambling about father-son bonds and anger of gods that we saw earlier.

Returning to the overall picture, I feel that this movie was created with the premise "Hey, this movie hasn't been remade yet, we can make money here!" It is easy to see how much more of a solid foundation a project like the LotR movies is built on.

Carrie (1976)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Evil Creates Evil, 3 November 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Wow. Just wow. I saw this yesterday and I can't stop thinking about this movie. It's probably the second best horror film I've seen second to Aliens, although I'd say the label "horror" isn't quite appropriate. I think it's certainly scary to some extent though.

I won't repeat the plot since plenty of reviews do already.

This is a beautiful movie. The music just works (in my own opinion, I've heard differing views on the matter). The visual direction is excellent.

The beauty of the movie is just an auxiliary however; what really matters is the effective story, acting and characters. One really notices that there's a strong source in Stephen King's novel.

We are through some elements of foreshadowing mercilessly led down a path to hell, quite literally. On the other hand, the individual events can be very unpredictable (the menstrual blood as the first example). It's the perfect combination to make a movie interesting, in my opinion.

Carrie herself is incredibly realistic, and is more genuine than most, both as a result of very good acting and a solid script. Her character is complex - we feel sorry for her a good part of the movie, but at one moment while walking home after the prom stained with blood, she seems more like a demon returning to its lair after harvesting souls. We are forced into re-evaluating our opinions on her after the overly brutal slaughter.

Carrie's mother, in sharp contrast, is an over-acted archetype of a religious zealot. This contrast and the relationship with Carrie is of huge importance. She is what we love to hate, and for a good part of the movie she seems unconditionally evil and wrong. But nothing is as easy as it appears to be...

Further supporting characters are also archetypes, but it achieves the purpose of reinforcing Carrie's character. We find more characters in the "love to hate"-category here in the girls that bully Carrie and cause the sequence of events leading up to the prom slaughter. However, do they really deserve death for what they did? No, and that places us in a moral dilemma where we were rooting for Carrie, but where she severely overreacts beyond any reasonable level.

In fact, I'm going as far as saying that in one way, it truly is the devil coming back from the prom and that Carrie's mother in a twisted sense is more right than we want to admit, and it terrifies us. I also interpret the events that follow as further tokens supporting my theory: Ultimately, the house falls apart as punishment of unrepentable deeds.

I'm not the kind of person who usually tries to find hidden meanings in movies. This movie however... Let's just say it is not only a revenge fantasy as some have claimed. It is a tale of how evil creates evil. It is a display of how not being able to back down and not pushing it further leads to out of control disaster.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Decent action film, 12 March 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Salvation is a good action movie, but not excellent. It had to carry a lot of weight from its predecessors which it doesn't rise up to, but on its own it certainly makes for an entertaining watch.

Perhaps the overall plot remains the weakest link in the movie... Why would Skynet choose such a complicated approach to winning the war? After all, a slow and repetitive war of attrition is what you'd think it'd be good at. Not some unnecessarily dangerous twisted "let our enemies reach our heart to become most vulnerable"-plan.

As a side note the sub plot of the human terminator ex-convict could have been developed further since it is pretty interesting.

Acting is good, and whenever there's an irritation it can be blamed on the weak script. An example would be the kid which by not saying a single line in the entire movie (conveniently assigned as a mute), as well as using 1 single "sad poor child" facial expression, becomes more boring and machine-like than the robots she's supposedly fighting. I guessed they were aiming for a Newt but got a mute...

I thought post-nuclear future would be even more grim and dark than it appeared in Salvation. It's not a biggie, but seeing the same clear blue sky in many scenes as of what I see every other day in Summer does not embroil me with an apocalyptic feeling. There's not enough dirt. There's not enough blood. It feels quite clean in fact, which perhaps is because it's intended to fit a younger audience. (But somehow most of my friends had managed to watch The Terminator by age 9-10 regardless, more than a decade ago.)

Some of the action sequences were a bit silly or over the top. Ordinary human characters getting beaten several times and still standing up? Check. Bullets being fired from a mini gun mounted on a terminator but not hitting anything? Check. Robot motor bikers springing out from a giant walking robot's legs? Check. But note that I said "some", and I'll have to give an overall positive score for the action sequences.

Salvation is not a nail biter like Terminator or Aliens. One will have little doubt in how it will end from the very beginning. It may partially be the fault that instead of the gloomy predictions of nuclear war in the earlier movies, we instead have the predictions that machines must eventually lose (or at least be delayed long enough for Kyle Reese to be sent back in time) in Salvation. Foreshadowing can be important for conveying an ominous mood throughout a film, which this one lacks compared to its predecessors.

So, my final grade is: Watch this if you enjoy action movies. Chances are you will not find many redeeming qualities if action is not your genre, but strong acting and action together brings a lot of value alone for the right kind of viewer. It also helps if you don't come with the expectation that this should be as good as Terminator 1 or 2.