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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Toy Story 3 and Inception

Toy Story 3

So on the hottest day of a very hot DC summer, I hauled my butt to an air-conditioned movie theater, put on some 3-D glasses, and treated myself to Pixar's latest triumph.

I'm a huge fan of the Toy Story films. The subject matter, toys who come to life, are just so inherently funny and poignant at the same time. Who hasn't had feelings of guilt about toys you stopped playing with? My only question was, could the Toy Story franchise mine similar themes and still produce a great movie.

Yes, yes, and yes. Toy Story 3 was absolutely terrific. When the toys get sent to a daycare center, there are all kinds of new adventures and toys to add to the fun. The movie has a lot of fun riffing on prison movies during this section. The good thing about Pixar movies, though, is they never (or rarely) let the action sequences get in the way of the emotions and the character development (a lesson they could teach to Incpetion-see review below).

And a word about the ending. I honestly cannot remember the last movie where I cried so much. The ending of this movie is just so perfect and tender and poignant and beautiful. I'm pretty sure just about everyone in the theater was crying as well, except perhaps the children. If you haven't seen Toy Story 3 yet, see it. I'm pretty sure it's my favorite of the year thus far.

Grade: A


For the past several months, as the Incpetion buzz continued to build, I've been trying to avoid reading reviews and watching previews for Inception. I knew the general concept going in, but I left most of the movie surprise me, and I'm glad I did.

Most of you have probably seen it. It's about dreams, and people who go into dreams. Most of the movie takes place in these dreams. Figuring out the layers of dreams, particularly in the last half of the movie, gets to be a whole lot of fun. While there are probably a few aspects I missed, I also wouldn't say it as overly difficult to follow. Director Christopher Nolan came up with a very fun concept for the movie, and he shoots the many many action and dream sequences with much style. The visuals are absolutely astonishing in several moments of the film. I particularly liked the street that became a box in one of the initial dreams.

The area where the movie was lacking for me was in emotion and character development. Most of the emotion has to do with Leonardo DiCaprio's character and his feelings for his wife (Marion Cotillard). These two are both very good actors, and I think Cotillard wins for best acting of the film, but we don't get into their lives very much. And the other main characters, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page? We know next to nothing about them. It seems almost a waste to put two such likable young actors in the movie and not give them more of an emotional range. I would have liked a few more moments where the film slowed down and let the characters' personalities take center stage.

This is not to say that I didn't enjoy this movie. I really really did. It was long, but I was engrossed the whole way. I also do want to see it again to luxuriate in the details that Nolan put in the script. I just don't think it lives up to his best films, Memento (one of my very favorite movies) or The Dark Knight.

Grade: B+

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