July 15, 2010, - 4:28 pm
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:
* “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).
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.
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.
Watch the trailer . . .
Tags: Alfred Molina, Balthazar, Cillian Murphy, Dave, Disney, Donald Trump, dreams, Dreamscape, dreidel, Ellen Page, Horvath, Inception, Jay Baruchel, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ken Watanabe, Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine, Morgana, Movie Reviews, Nicholas Cage, Nicolas Cage, spinning top, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Tom Berenger, Victoria