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Movie Reviews

In the last week, I saw three movies: Cats & Dogs II, Despicable Me, and Inception.

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Regarding Cats & Dogs II:

I think I saw the first one. I vaguely recollect seeing it at the drive in. I also saw II at the drive in.  This should indicate to you that I am unwilling to pay full price to see a movie like Cats & Dogs.

Still, as an avid moviegoer, I like to give everything a chance.

To sum up Cats & Dogs II: “Every single spy/thriller movie reference and cliche you can think of while dogs and cats spout one liners with the main character being an impetuous screw up but secretly ‘has-what-it-takes’ to save the day in the end, sprinkled with about 5 minutes of a story involving human being Chris O’Donnel.”

Did I like the movie? Not particularly.

Did I expect to? No.

Would I see it again? No.

Would I recommend it? To whom?  When I was a kid, I remember movies like this. Everybody who saw them would talk about them at school, and discuss the “finer” points of the movie, such as “My favorite part was when they were getting buried in kitty litter!”  If your kid is like how I was, take him or her to see the movie.

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Regarding Despicable Me.

This was why I went to the drive in. It was the second one, after Cats & Dogs.

I was not terribly impressed with the minions, as they were effectively lozenge shapes oompah loompahs. I didn’t mind them either.

This movie was completely predictable, and I didn’t mind one bit.

To sum up: “Villain who is being out villained by another villain decides to do the ultimate act of villainhood. In the process of executing his plan of villianosity, he adopts 3 orphan girls. This completely derails his villainness, and in the end he chooses the children over his professional villainhood. Moral of the story: if you are a horrible human being, adopt three precocious but adorable orphan girls, and you will become a super dad.”

I loved this movie because I have nieces. The second he gives in and takes them to a theme park, you just know he’s done for in his desire to be a villain.

Did I like the move? Yes.

Did I expect to? Yes.

Would I see it again? Yes.

Would I recommend it? To whom? Yes, to everybody.

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Regarding Inception.

This was not at the drive in. My wife and I decided to see it as an early matinee.

In order to discuss this movie, I must first discuss the move TimeCop.

In TimeCop, there is very little exposition. Van Damme is brought into a bigwig government guy’s office and told that time travel is possible and that it needs to be policed and he is going to police it. No explanation of the mechanism used for time travel. The time travel is just to be accepted as quickly as possible so that we can proceed to the shooting, the martial arts, and the explosions.

In Inception, there is a similar very small amount of exposition. We are told that shared dreaming is possible, and that through it information can be extracted from the heads of people.  Very TimeCoppy. No explanation of how it works, except that it can also work layered.

Eventually we find ourselves four layers deep, a dream within a dream within a dream within a dream.  In dream level one, most of the movie is spent falling off of a bridge. In dream level two, most of the time is spent moving sleeping people from a hotel room into an elevator. In dream level three, most of the time is spent shooting guns and causing explosions in an Artic bunker.  In level four, most of the time is spent dealing with Leonardo DiCaprio’s personal demons, which is that he feels guilty that he implanted an idea into his wife’s head that caused her to commit suicide in “real life”.

The purpose of going through all of these levels is unimportant. The story is of the tortured main character (Leo) making peace with himself while seeking redemption.

In the end (as of course we knew it would) it is left ambiguous whether the main character is or is not still in a dream state.

Did I like the movie? Sort of, and I’ll explain in a moment.

Did I expect to? I half expected to like it.

Would I see it again? Probably not.

Would I recommend it? To whom? There are select groups of people who I would recommend this to.  A) people who appreciate the camp of TimeCop B) people who appreciate movies like Primer.

Now, to clarify how I “sort of” liked the movie.

For some time now, off and on, I have considered the movie/theatre trope of the movie about making a movie, or the play about doing a play.  I have often thought about going a few more levels in abstraction, and wondered how well it would be able to be executed.

Now I know, because this is that concept, basically.

While I was able to follow it with four levels of abstraction, I noticed that two of them needed to be immensely simplified in order to make it work. The first level spent all of the time driving a van or having that van fall, and so we would cut to it for a few seconds at a time.  The second level was slightly more complex, but there was still only one thing going on.

So, my idea about a book written about a writing a book written about writing a book down to fifteen levels is not a very good one. Mostly people would be lost by the idea, and it wouldn’t do well.

Which may be a reason to do it anyway.

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