I watched two wildly different movies over the course of a few days. One of these movies was Inception; the other G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
Let’s take Inception first.
1.) Inception is gorgeous. I’ve read one or two reviews bitching about the look of the film, how real dreams don’t operate the way they do in the movie, and how this reviewer has certainly never had a dream that looks anything like this, blah, blah, blah. I guess that’s valid if you’re looking for realism in a movie about dream-heists, but honestly? It’s a freaking movie, people. It’s what’s commonly referred to as fiction. The story is good, and the acting is solid, and the cinematography is just mind-blowing . . . would you just be quiet and eat your damn popcorn, please?
2.) Make no mistake: Inception is a heist movie. It’s a high-concept heist movie, but it’s still a heist movie . . . which is in no way a complaint. The action sequences (more on that later) are spectacularly awesome. Going into the film, I had this idea that the movie was going to have at least eighteen twists on what was real and what wasn’t and who was conning who . . . but the movie doesn’t twist and turn as much as it unfolds, and the point isn’t to shock you as much as it is to make you think. It’s sometimes a bit confusing, especially in the beginning when you’re not quite sure what’s going on, but it gives you time to figure things out for yourself with a minimal amount of, “Let me spell out what’s happening for you.” And when it does need to feed you exposition via Cobb teaching Ariadne, it’s relatively painless and, actually, pretty fun to watch.
3.) That being said . . . my biggest criticism of the movie is Ariadne’s character. I haven’t decided yet whether Ellen Page can be held accountable for this or not, although my instincts say not. Actually, I enjoyed watching her in something different than what I would consider her usual fare—you know, witty, spunky, acerbic, etc. Her dialogue isn’t bad, and I don’t think the actress does anything wrong, but . . . the character is so obviously a plot device that it’s hard to appreciate her as a character. In a way, Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is the only fully developed character in the film, but all the guys seem to work it anyway, especially Tom Hardy Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Cillian Murphy. (Oh, Cillian Murphy. How he takes a minimal character and makes him gut-wrenching. Admittedly, I’ve got a soft spot for daddy issue stories, but still. I love you, Cillian!)
Anyway, like I said, the men are all pretty small characters, but somehow the actors make them come alive on screen. Ariadne, on the other hand . . . doesn’t quite work like that. She spends the first half of the film absorbing that exposition (like I said, it’s well-written exposition, but it’s also the only thing she really gets to do) and in the second half of the film she gets to delve into Cobb’s secrets . . . and again, Cobb’s secrets are interesting, but it’s still ALL she gets to do. Off the top of my head, I can’t come up with any of Ariadne’s character traits or idiosyncrasies . . . she’s just sort of there to understand Cobb better (and why none of the other guys on the crew seem to understand just how bad things are going is beyond me). I’m sure that a lesser actress could have made her more annoying, but I’m not sure a better actress could have given her any more depth.
It’s an (admittedly working) theory I have going right now: Christopher Nolan and crew cannot write for women. This is mostly based on the Batman movies, although if you’ll take a look at most of his films, you’ll notice that they are predominately male with one female thrown in the mix. Now, I haven’t watched Insomnia in so long that I can’t comment on Hilary Swank in it (just that I hated the movie in its entirety) and I’ve never seen The Prestige (although I’ve heard Scarlett Johansson has a pretty thankless role), but think about Batman Begins and The Dark Knight for a minute here. At first, I assumed that the role of Rachel was mostly annoying due to Katie Holmes . . . not that she’s the worst actress ever (I liked her in Pieces of April and Thank You For Smoking) but strong, idealistic characters are hard to play without wanting to smack them across the face. I figured she just wasn’t good enough to make the character not righteous and screechy, and I was looking forward to Maggie Gyllenhaal taking over the role. But even Gyllenhaal couldn’t do anything with this damn character, and I think the fundamental flaw is that Rachel doesn’t HAVE character. She’s Batman’s idealistic girl. That’s all, so yay for feminism. And even Jorja Fox (who I love) doesn’t have much to do in Memento . . . not that she’s bad, but she’s a plot device, same as Rachel, same as Ariadne. I’d love to see Catwoman in the next Batman film, but I gotta say: I’m a little nervous about what she’ll end up like.
Guess she can’t be worse than Halle Berry, though, right?
4.) Hallway Action Scene- Coolest Fucking Scene in the Whole Fucking World. That is all.
5.) I like Ken Watanabe, I do. But, man, that guy’s got a decently thick accent, and at a few key points in the movie, he would say something that sounded something like, “Uhduhthf”. To which Mek and I would tilt our heads at the screen and do a Robin Hood: Men in Tights-esque, ” . . .what?”
6.) About 35 minutes before the movie ended, I realized I needed to go to the bathroom. This was annoying, but doable . . . I have a very firm policy about going to the bathroom in the middle of a movie, that is, I don’t. The last time I broke this rule was over a decade ago, and I only did it because my friend felt sick, and her mom didn’t want her to go to the bathroom alone. Now I just cross my legs and wait.
But then came this scene . . . I don’t want to spoil things for those of you who haven’t seen the film, but I have to talk about it, because the scene was like a personal affront to my bladder. Basically, something is falling and about to hit a big body of water. This happens very, very slowly. Like, you see it start to fall, and then the action goes somewhere else for five minutes, and then you cut back to it still falling, and then you cut away for another five minutes, and then, yep, it’s still falling, and my bladder is SCREAMING at me, “Ohmygod, it’s never going to end; it’s never going to hit the water; you’re going to explode and then DIE.”
I didn’t explode, but I also didn’t stick around after the credits to see if there was some tacked on twenty-five second scene, either, you know?
7.) You’d think I’d be in love with Tom Hardy after watching Inception, and I was, a little . . . that hot, British way of saying, “Darling,” just does something to me . . . but it’s Joseph Gordon Levitt that I truly fell for after watching the movie. And yes, that’s almost entirely the reason I watched the next movie (other than to mock it, which, of course, was fun too.)