July 15, 2010, - 4:28 pm

Weekend Box Office: Shocking – I Liked Both “Sorcerer” & “Inception”

By Debbie Schlussel

Though both were too long–my pet peeve with movies–I liked both of this week’s new offerings, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” and “Inception.”  Here are my reviews:

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*  “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice“:  This movie–which opened in theaters yesterday–has practically nothing to do with the animated Disney short set to symphonic music on which it is supposed to be based.  There is one scene with dancing mops and other household cleaning items that pays tribute, but that’s about it.  Regardless, it’s charming, cute, and a good-versus-evil fairy tale that you expect from Disney.  And it’s funny and witty, too.  Great for your kids, great for the whole family.  Enjoyable.

Starring Nicolas Cage and Jay Baruchel, this is the story of an ancient sorcerer, Balthazar (Cage) who learned from Merlin.  He’s traveled through the centuries without aging, in the hope that he can foil an evil sorcerer, Horvath (Alfred Molina) and free the woman he loves, Victoria, without freeing another evil sorcerer, Morgana, who has invaded her body.  Soon, he’s in modern times and encounters Dave, a young 4th-grader in New York City who chases a note from the girl he likes down a side alley.  The boy is the heir to sorcery and the magical sorcerer’s ring fits him.  But he accidentally frees the evil sorcerer and ends up back with his class (and getting psychiatric help for, presumably, imagining the magic).

Ten years later, the boy, Dave, is grown up (Baruchel) and a science geek in college, who does cool experiments with volts in an abandoned New York subway location.  On the same day, he puts the ring back on, meets up with the childhood girl of his dreams, and encounters both Balthazar and the nemesis, Horvath.  Balthazar begins teaching the less than willing apprentice, Dave,  to become a sorcerer, to perform magic, and manage the power.  Plus, they must prevent Horvath from freeing the evil spirit of Morgana, who will instantly destroy the world and kill everyone in it.  Dave tries to win the girl, overcome his geekiness, and save the world, all while still learning the magic.

Great special effects, action, and cool dueling and magic with electricity and bolts.  The Empire State Building appears in several scenes, and so does the New York skyline at night. Like I said, I enjoyed it, if it was a tad long (even at an hour and 45 minutes).

TWO REAGANS
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Watch the trailer . . .

*  “Inception“:  This wasn’t as good as I expected it to be, and for the first half I found it very pretentious and confusing, and I didn’t like it.  But the second half mostly won me over and tied it all together nicely.  The film opens tonight at theaters, with Midnight showings.

If you liked “Dreamscape,” as I did, you will probably like this, though it’s a lot different.  Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are a gang of thieves (which also includes some lesser names), but not everyday thieves.  They steal information locked in people’s minds by invading their dreams.  They also plant seeds of ideas, which the dreamer ends up carrying out in real life, thinking it was his or her idea.

Unfortunately for DiCaprio, who is the leader of the pack of thieves, his wife (the loathsome 9/11 truther, Marion Cotillard) is constantly entering the dreams and botching everything.  And there are conditions to the dreams.  If you want the person to wake up, you kill him.  In the real world, he awakens.  And–I found this part ridiculous–for complex dreams, you need an architect to design the levels and buildings in the various scenes.  I think I’m gonna hire Frank Lloyd Wright to design my dreams.  (This movie’s architect was played by far-left, way-too-hipster Ellen Page, whose lifeless, dull (and highly over-rated) acting was a waste of screen-time.  I had no use for her and her presence as a moral voice in this movie was fake and silly.)

Also, for the dream invaders, they need an object, the weight and feel of which tells them whether they are in real life or in a dream, since it’s sometimes hard to tell–that is a deep plot point and storyline here:  telling the difference between real life and dream.  I gotta say, the studio gave us members of the press one of the coolest movie swag favors ever–the replica of a silver spinning top that is often shown in the movie (see picture, below) as one of those objects.  A nice addition to my dreidel collection, even if it technically isn’t a dreidel.

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DiCaprio and his gang are hired by Watanabe to invade the mind of the heir (Cillian Murphy) to a giant energy corporation, with the aim of splitting up his inheritance because no one person should control all of the world’s energy.  That would be too much power and could be used to destroy the world or hold things hostage.  Murphy’s father is dying, and the plan is to invade his dreams on the plane ride back to the U.S. for the funeral, and convince him to split up the energy empire, plant the seed of that idea–that it was what his father wanted.

But even the best laid–and architecturally-planned dream robberies–can go awry.  Sometimes, you have to go deeper–to a dream within a dream, or even a dream within that one, or a dream within a dream within a dream–to carry out the mission.  And sometimes, the dreamer whose dreams you are invading has armies of men who shoot at you to protect him and his dreams.

DiCaprio wants to return home to America and his kids, but he can’t.  And that’s another plot line running through the multiple dream sequences.  Michael Caine plays DiCaprio’s father, the man who taught him to invade dreams, but really isn’t too enthused with the way his son’s life has turned out.  The once very-hot Tom Berenger also makes several appearances as Cillian Murphy’s lawyer and uncle, and he has a weird resemblance to Donald Trump here.  Whoa.  It’s not for kids, as there is a lot of violence, shooting, and killing, even if those killed are really only in a dream.

So many cool special effects in this movie, lots of action, and chases.  And lots of deep thinking.  Like I said, at first I thought it was too pretentious and confusing, but it won me over.  And I like the ideas presented here–dreams versus reality, and the morality involved in invading someone’s deepest unconscious imagination while they are sleeping. It’s still pretentious, but also clever and kinda deep. And the ending is just perfect–the kind of ambiguity I love in movies.

TWO-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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Watch the trailer . . .

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21 Responses

I was hoping you would review “The Kids Are All Right”. I’d love your take on it. Some reviewers are honest about the layers of it…but most of the PC crowd drool over it…failing to notice or write about the nuances.

Skunky on July 15, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Sorry, not buying a movie where witchcraft is portrayed as a force for good. Exodus 22:18 please!

And as for Inception, I hate to sound like a tea partier, while I agree that energy companies shouldn’t get too big, how’s about a movie that talks about GOVERNMENT getting too big? I don’t think there’s been one since “Brazil” way back in 1985. I suppose the solution to the problem would be to have government nationalize the energy company, maybe? Ugh.

So, this summer it looks like Toy Story 3, Despicable Me, an amazingly family values oriented Shrek Ever After and everything else.

Gerald on July 16, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Hello! Earth to Gerald, Earth to Gerald! Are you Awake?
    The GIANT centralized “ENERGY” Corp. is a METAPHOR that represents the ELITIST ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT/NEW WORLD ORDER, who want to exercise control over ALL commerce and commercial energy.
    What’s a Dream, & whats’ Reality?
    Reality is that this fine Movie, is a New World Order WARNING to the world. A Warning about what’s happening, and what’s about to happen in the next 2 years regarding the existence & INCEPTION of a one world Empire, and the lack of FREEDOM that comes with it.

    Who cares? on July 25, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Skunky:

“The Kids Are All Right” isn’t in wide release yet. It’s showing in like 7 theatres, probably all in L.A. and New York, not Debbie’s Detroit.

Gerald on July 16, 2010 at 1:02 pm

I’m glad you like Inception, Debbie.

I’m a big fan of Christoper Nolan since The Prestige and of course The Dark Knight. But, I was unsure about seeing this one since it has DiCrappio in it and he’s one of my usual Must Skip listers (Sean Penn, Robin Williams, James Cameron, etc.).

Now, I’ll make an exception and see it.

I’ll definitely see Sorcerer’s Apprentice since it has Nicholas Cage who I like in just about anything.

Jeff_W on July 16, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Sorcerer’s Apprentice was very stupid and dumbed down. The laughs were played broadly. For example, when someone in the film is surprised, he faints. Literally. The entire movie is like that–very obvious and stupid.

Gerald, witches are mentioned in the movie as being real, so you are right to be wary. One witch, Abigail, is said to be the witch that “put Salem on the map.” I think you are correct to avoid this film– not because it glorifies witches, though, since it doesn’t (Cage character studied under Merlin and is not a witch) but because it is so lame.

I also saw Inception. Like you, Debbie, I didn’t like it as much as I believed I would. Here’s how I would rank Chris Nolan’s films:

1) Memento 2) Insomnia 3) Inception 4) Following
5) Batman Begins 6) The Prestige 7) The Dark Knight

I did like The Dark Knight, but the others were better.

Jeff_W, you are right to be leary of films with DiCrappio, since he is a master propagandist with a liberal agenda. In The Aviator, he tried to sell the idea that rich capitalists are sick lunatics. In Blood Diamond he made us feel guilty for buying jewelry because of the suffering in Africa. In Body of Lies he proposed the idea that we could solve all the problems in the Middle East if we would just leave the CIA and marry pretty Muslims. And so on. Besides, his face is pinched like a monkey and at age 36 he looks like a teenager who is not aging well.

Burke on July 17, 2010 at 10:10 am

I look forward to seeing the film. I find DiCaprio’s acting worthwhile. And to dissent a bit re a portion of your discussion, Ms. S, and regarding Burke’s comment on “rich capitalists” above — my experience is that in this society oftentimes complete psychopaths wind up in “positions of power”, for many reasons – a leading one being that they have absolutely no qualms about doing whatever it takes, including murder, to get there. And, as for 9-11, i’m convinced, alas, that it was orchestrated by “rogue” elements of “our government, MI6 and Mossad”.

drakke1 on July 17, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Ha, ha, ha,… Malkin’s website has a post titled “If You Miss Just One Movie This Year, Make it ‘Inception’” Looks like I’ve got to go see this movie!!

drakke1 – have you tried to hijack drakken’s screen name? I highly doubt he would would have written what you wrote about 9-11.

Jarhead on July 18, 2010 at 11:51 am

I saw Inception last evening and it was great. Thanks for the recommendation Debbie.

GianniV on July 18, 2010 at 12:51 pm

I agreed with your take on Inception being a bit long. The movie itself was quite bizaar, although the special effects on this movie were simply amazing.

Is it mandatory that Leo has a scene in every single movie where he is spazzing out? I think it’s built into his contract when he accepts roles.

I’m not sure if I will watch this one again

I did love Shutter Island from back in February. I think, as of right now, that Shutter Island has to be in the lead for best movie of 2010. I know that you didn’t give that one such a glowing review as this one, but come on it’s scoresese.

trewsdetroit on July 19, 2010 at 8:08 am

I loved Shutter Island, too, Trewsdetroit. And you’re right–Scorsese? Really?

Burke on July 20, 2010 at 11:54 pm

finally, someone agrees with me on inception.
it was the best movie of the year. It was a very average movie.

Shaunoez on December 12, 2010 at 12:07 am

Sorcerer’s Apprentice is probably charming and cute if you are a 12 year old.One of the worst movies I have seen.
Unless you are smoking something see it.

hr on March 25, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Can you at least attempt to review something that requires the slightest bit of thinking on the audiences part without calling it pretentious? I may consider taking your “reviews” a tad bit serious if you can.

That Guy. on March 25, 2011 at 6:51 pm

“Inception” reminds me of the great work of the surrealist master Luis Bunuel I saw as a young man. Surrealism is all about the dream world, the subconscious and the delightful, frightening, amusing and bizarre things conjured by the human mind. Reality is a reflection of our thoughts. The material world is first formed by our psychic impressions. The movie has a lot of surrealist material – nowadays its considered quite tame. In its day, it was shocking and controversial. Which is more real? No one knows. I suspect its whatever we think is real and every one has their own definition of reality. Maybe in the end we live in someone else’s dream, our supposedly real world is as hallucinatory as the worlds we create for ourselves in our sleep.

NormanF on July 22, 2013 at 12:47 am

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