Green Zone

Green Zone is a good movie, but it should have been a great movie. That’s essentially my review in 13 words, but for form’s sake, let’s expand. Green Zone tells the story of a Chief Warrant Officer who is heading up teams searching for WMDs in Iraq following the fall of Baghdad in March 2003. He’s not finding any. Caught inbetween the stark situation on the ground, the absurd disconnect of the administration’s infighting, and his conscience battling his duty, the CWO tries to find the truth behind the intel that lead us to war.

This isn’t a political blog, so I’m not going to rant about my particular views surrounding the Iraqi War. I am stunned that so few movies are being made about the focal point of global conflict. A war that’s lasted over seven years is largely forgotten by mainstream America, and for all their talk of activism, where are the Hollywood statement pictures? Green Zone starts off as one and the first 30-40 minutes are an extremely powerful look at the chaos and insanity in Baghdad after the city was taken. Matt Damon does a great job disappearing into his role, leading a squad played by actual soldiers and veterans (many of whom shot the film while inbetween deployments to the Gulf theatre). However, then the movie turns into a rather standard thriller that just happens to be set in Iraq, and the impact of the beginning makes a brief return at the end, but by then the film has lost it’s potential to be a powerful look into something most Americans seem all too willing to forget. I expect better from Paul Greengrass after films like United 93, and I’ve heard that there was a lot of studio meddling and fuss over the budget. The film also got delayed six months before release, which is usually a sign that there were problems.

I don’t mean it to sound like Green Zone isn’t worth seeing. Matt Damon, Amy Ryan, Brendan Gleeson, Jason Isaacs, and Greg Kinnear give great performances and Paul Greengrass, even when off the top of his game, still delivers an entertaining movie. But this movie had a chance to be a lot more than merely entertaining and I wish it had lived to it’s potential.
7.5

Killing Time – July 23, 2010

Welcome to a new Friday feature that will just give a quick rundown of what I’m doing to kill time. As I currently have so much to kill (I actually upgraded to a bloodier picture after yesterday….yeah, we’ll just leave yesterday be, suffice it to say I have time), I don’t get around to reviewing all the media I consume. So here’s what I’m working on currently and I would love it, oh comment-shy readers, if you’d comment and tell me what you’re working through!
Book: “My Ox is Broken” by Adam-Troy Castro
Music: Inception Score by Hans Zimmer
Video Game: Puzzle Quest 2, Magic: The Gathering
DVD/Blu Ray: Amazing Race: Asia Season Two, Casino Royale Collector’s Ed. Blu Ray (so good)
Comics/Graphic Novel: Green Lantern Corps-Emerald Eclipse by Peter Tomasi

Movie Review: Toy Story 3 (2010) “A Perfect Goodbye”

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I don’t think I’ve ever put off writing a review like I’ve put off writing my review of Toy Story 3. This movie, quite honestly, messed me up. I don’t mind telling you, though not a crier, I spent the last 15 minutes of this movie reduced to a sobbing, gibbering wreck. There have actually been a number of stories on this happening to men my age, and in manly defensiveness….here’s a link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/7859472/What-is-it-about-Toy-Story-3-that-makes-grown-men-cry.html. Continue reading Movie Review: Toy Story 3 (2010) “A Perfect Goodbye”

Inception

In writing a review of Inception, you’re faced with a bit of a dilemma. There’s so much to cover, so many angles to take, so much depth to analyze, that you really can’t do it justice if you’re going to skirt spoilers. And I’m going to. It’s not to me to take away from anyone who hasn’t gone yet, the experience of watching the best movie since, oh, the last one Chris Nolan made. We can get into specifics in the comments section if people wish, but for now I want to keep this spoiler free.
I’m not even sure one can write a review of this movie without seeing it multiple times, but I shall try my best.

What is Inception? It’s essentially a heist movie. Leonardo DiCaprio (having the best acting year of his career with this and Shutter Island) plays a thief, but his targets are the secrets of others accessed through their dreams. In this world, shared dreaming is a technology developed by the military for training soldiers for combat. DiCaprio and his team break into the dreams of targets, extract pieces of information, and sell them to interested parties. When one of their heists goes awry, a corporate giant (Ken Wantanabe) burned by the group asks them to something never done. Plant an idea IN the mind of a person. In this case, the heir to his rival’s business empire (Cillian Murphy). The rest of the film is the assemblage of the team, the preparation for the inception, and the operation itself.

That is as simple as I can make Chris Nolan’s screenplay, which is as complex as any written for the screen while never losing the audience as the thieves slip in and out of the dream world and reality and then descend down layers of the dreaming (at one time in the movie you’re in a dream within a dream WITHIN a dream). Selling this fantastic concept, Nolan employs the same technique that have made his Batman films so successful: the more fantastic the concept, the more grounded in reality it needs to be. There are rules and a logic to what they do that is spelled out through the audience’s point of view character (Ellen Page as the group’s architect, literally designing dream worlds for these operations), her initiation into the group, and her investigation of DiCaprio’s past and the demons he is keeping locked inside his own dreams.

The cast is an all-star list of the best character actors working today. DiCaprio, Page, Murphy, Watanabe, Michael Caine, Tom Berenger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who gets the coolest action sequence in the film, defying gravity in the hotel), Lukas Haas, and Marion Cotilliard. The cinematography is breathtaking, the score by Hans Zimmer is so good that I listened to it four times before I even saw the movie, and the editing keeps the movie tightly under control. The last 45 minutes are a feat of editing that stands against any in cinema history.

Inside the dreaming, as inside our own dreams, the fantastic is commonplace, and Inception delivers visuals to dazzle. There are things onscreen that left me agape, both at the beauty with which they were filmed and the imagination they represented. I’ve mentioned in other posts that Nolan is my favorite screenwriter and director, but he continues to raise the bar in every way. He’s making movies right now that defy all expectations and are spectacularly intelligent in an age of watered down, lowest common denominator “entertainment”. Inception is perhaps his best film. I have such a Batman love, that I don’t know that I can get past The Dark Knight, but Inception is on its level. I cannot urge you more strongly to go see this in the theatres. This is a masterpiece. And the ending….the ending we’ll debate as long as there are films.
10/10

Batman 3 Teaser Poster


Warner Brothers has not confirmed this as the first teaser poster for what appears will be called The Dark Knight Returns, but it follows what we’ve heard about the Riddler. It seems to mirror the “I Believe in Harvey Dent” type of marketing used for TDK. At the very least, it’s awesome to look at…so behold!

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