Kevin Carr’s Weekly Report Card: July 16, 2010

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr celebrates the summer tent pole season with Christopher Nolan’s Inception, eager to watch the movie again and fall asleep just to see what happens. He also takes his kids to see The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and shows some love for Disney’s family adventures, even if they are a bit silly.


InceptionStudio: Warner Bros.

Rated: PG-13 for sequences of violence and action throughout

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard and Ellen Page

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

What it’s about: Leonardo DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, a security expert who has the ability to enter people‘s dreams to steal their deepest secrets. He is hired by a businessman to assemble a team that can dig deep into a subject‘s mind and implant an idea in order to change the business competition. However, Cobb is haunted by his own inner demons that threaten the mission and put his entire crew in jeopardy.

What I liked: By this time, you‘ve heard practically every other critic in the blogosphere gush over the brilliance of Inception. To praise the film seems almost redundant at this point, but there are several things that are worth highlighting for my own tastes.

First is the concept and the story. I‘ve been a big fan of mind-bending sci-fi action for years. From Dreamscape in the 80s to The Matrix and eXistenZ in the 90s, these have had a particular attraction for me. It makes sense that I’m drawn to this story.

Nolan does a fantastic job pacing this film, making its 2 1/2 hour running time seem to fly by. At its heart, Inception is an action movie, what could almost be a sequel to Dreamscape with a healthy dose of James Bond thrills thrown in. The acting is pretty good, and the presentation of the film is top notch – from cinematography and effects on down.

Most impressive is Hans Zimmer‘s powerful score, which pounds through the theater and seals the deal on this movie being a cinematic experience. At times, the mix seemed a little heavy, so much that it‘s hard to hear the dialogue, but I don‘t think I missed much.

What I didn’t: There are really only two things that bothered me about Inception. The first isn‘t the film itself but rather the critical reaction to it. I‘ve heard many times from many people that this is one of the smartest, most original and thought-provoking movies of recent years. It‘s not. I can list a slate of films where I‘ve seen the plot elements before – from the aforementioned Dreamscape and The Matrix to other lesser movies like The Thirteenth Floor. The film puts on the appearance that it‘s brilliant and original, but that‘s just window dressing.

This isn‘t a complaint as much as it is a realization. I still love these kinds of stories… I‘ve just seen it all before, to the point which I figured it all out long before the ending. In fact, there‘s one scene where DiCaprio‘s character asks Ellen Page‘s character to take two minutes to design a maze he can solve in one. Well, it seems that Nolan took 2 1/2 hours to make a movie that I figured out in about twenty minutes.

Finally, there’s a rather heavy and sometimes forced subplot involving the guilt Cobb is suffering over the death of his wife (Marion Cotillard). This whole story got tedious and mopey, to the point that I think Nolan is almost aiming for the Twilight crowd. Yeah, he lays it on that thick.

Still, Inception is a good film. Go see it. You’ll thank yourself.

Who is gonna like this movie: Anyone who wants to experience a cinematic event this summer.

Grade: A-


The Sorcerer's ApprenticeStudio: Disney

Rated: PG for fantasy action violence, some mild rude humor and brief language

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Jay Baruchel, Alfred Molina, Teresa Palmer and Toby Kebbell

Directed by: Jon Turteltaub

What it’s about: Jay Baruchel plays Dave, a dorky 20-year-old who meets up with a centuries-old sorcerer named Balthazar (Nicolas Cage). Balthazar takes Dave under his wing and teaches him magic so together they can battle evil sorcerers and keep Morgana Le Fay imprisoned.

What I liked: I have always enjoyed the Disney adventure films for the whole family, going back to when I saw the original Escape to Witch Mountain as a child. Similarly, this movie – while gussied up with bigger special effects and presentation – is going for the same crowd. If you liked a movie like last year’s Race to Witch Mountain, you’ll enjoy this.

There’s a lot of silliness in the story, including some goofy interaction with Cage and Baruchel. It’s almost as if they don’t take themselves (or their roles) too seriously. In the context of this film, I’m okay with it, but I can see where this might wear thing on people.

In the end, I had fun watching this film. Like all of Jerry Bruckheimer’s productions, this looked fantastic, the effects were cool and the story moved along enough to keep the interest of my kids in tow.

What I didn’t: I’ve complained about Jay Baruchel before. He seems to be the next big thing, but whether he’s looking at Katherine Heigl’s vagina in Knocked Up, creaming his jeans in She’s Out of My League or training a dragon in How to Train Your Dragon, I just don’t get into him. There are a lot of other actors who could have been paired with Nicolas Cage.

Ultimately, while a fun film, the story isn’t quite there for The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. It’s a goofy little film with a wandering focus. And the Mickey Mouse short from Fantasia was cooler. Still, it’s not made for the thirtysomething guy like me. It’s made for the kids of a thirtysomething guy like me.

Who is gonna like this movie: Kids, around the tweenage years.

Grade: B-

Want to see what Kevin had to say about these films on TV? Check out his interview on FOX…

Kevin Carr crawled from the primordial ooze in the early 1970s. He grew up watching movies to the point of irritation for his friends and was a font of useless movie knowledge until he decided to put that knowledge to good use. Now, Kevin is a nationally syndicated critic, heard on dozens of radio stations around the country, and his reviews appear in a variety of online outlets. Kevin is also a proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA).

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