Movie Review: Inception (2010)

July 24, 2010 in Movie Reviews by pacejmiller

Spoiler Free!

Inception blew my mind.  It really did.  Christopher Nolan (writer, director, producer ) is a genius.

I tried my very best to avoid reading any reviews or anything associated with the film before watching it and I would recommend anyone else who hasn’t seen it to do the same.  Nevertheless, in the last few days all I’ve been hearing is how fantastic and unbelievable this film is and how I’ve got to watch it.

It sure seems like everybody’s been watching Inception, or at least trying to.  Word of mouth about the film must be spreading fast.  My first attempt, a 4:10pm session was completely sold out, so we bought tickets for the 5pm session.  That one was eventually sold out too.  Not a single seat left.  And when we left the cinema, people were already lining up for the next session.

To be honest, I wouldn’t know how to explain the plot of the film without giving anything away even if I wanted to.  So I’ll just skip straight to the critique.

Inception is mind bogglingly brilliant.  It’s one of the most original, interesting and entertaining films I’ve seen.  Ever. It’s the type of film that not just requires, but demands multiple viewings just to get your head around it all.  I’m not sure that’s even possible with so many layers and interpretations to sort through.  I paid careful attention the whole way through but there were times when I just had to accept what they were saying and what was happening and just go with the flow.  I plan to watch it again soon.

Leonardo DiCaprio leads a super cast including Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe, Tom Berenger and even Michael Caine.  Each role is weighty, signficant and important, and the performances were simply picture perfect.

Christopher Nolan has done such an incredible job with this film.  Having just studied screenwriting it frightens me how terrific the screenplay is.  For such a complicated, difficult storyline the general aspects of the film were surprisingly easy to follow and understand.  There is just so much confidence in his direction.  Even the special effects were amazing — at no time did I think I was watching CGI.  This is a master filmmaker who knows what he’s doing and he’s doing it at the height of his powers.

Best film of the year.

5 out of 5 stars!

Tim Ho Wan: Ultra Cheap Michelin Star Restaurant!

July 24, 2010 in Best Of, Food, Hong Kong, Travel by pacejmiller

Tim Ho Wan is tasty and cheap!

Usually a Michelin Star means a restaurant has been given a free licence to charge prices through the roof because people are going to go anyway.

Not Tim Ho Wan (which literally means “Add Good Luck” in Chinese), which is well known for being one of, if not the cheapest Michelin Star awarded restaurant in the world.

Tasty and cheap?  Well, we just had to check it out.

(to read on and see the pics click on ‘more…’)

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Movie Review: Splice (2010)

July 24, 2010 in Movie Reviews by pacejmiller

Splice opens in cinemas across Australia on 12 August 2010

I’ve always had an unheathy fascination with monsters, mutants and freaks of nature.  There’s just something about them that intrigues and yet unsettles me.  Unfortunately, the track record of such films have — let’s face it — not been great.

And so it was with some reserved excitement that I went to see a media preview screening of Splice (with an unprecedented full house), the latest sci-fi horror offering from director and co-writer Vincenzo Natali (the guy who brought us the excellent and innovative Cube) and executive producer Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy).  I thought, if anyone could pull off a worthy sci-fi horror about genetic experimentation gone wrong, it’s these two dudes.

So?  Well, I think they came very very close.

Splice tells the story of a hip scientist couple, Clive and Elsa (played by a pre-buffed, pre-Predators Adrien Brody and an older, post-hot Sarah Polley, you know, the blonde girl from Go and Dawn of the Dead), who have become rockstars of the scientific community for their breakthroughs in splicing DNA of different animals to create weird mutant hybrids.  The next step is to splice animal and human DNA, but of course their corporate sponsors don’t approve.  Just to prove they could do it, Clive and Elsa take their experiments underground…

As usual, the less known about the plot the better, but it’s not hard to guess what happens next.  Splice follows a familiar trajectory (a bit of Frankenstein with a touch of Species 2), but it doesn’t mean it’s still not a genuinely creepy, unsettling, and at times utterly bizarre film well worth your time.  Especially if you are into (extremely well-designed) freaks!

The film is anchored by the strong performance of Adrien Brody (having now seen him in back-to-back movies in completely different roles and physically transformed, I can only say I am impressed with this guy).  Sarah Polley picks her up her acting towards the end, but there was something about her dialogue in the first half of the film that didn’t ring true.  I’m not sure if it’s her or the script.  The other standout is their ‘creation’, Dren, played by newcomer Delphine Chaneac and spliced with terrific special effects.  She’s creepy.

Splice is not without its flaws.  It was difficult to connect with the protagonists who are supposed to be intelligent people but they keep doing incredibly stupid, unlikable and non-sensical things.  There were a couple of grossly over-the-top moments that generated more laughter than horrified gasps from the crowd, though that may have been intentional.  The ‘twists’ were also a little too telegraphed and obvious for my liking.

But these are relatively minor complaints because Splice doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not.  I’m glad Natali made it a straight horror/psychological thriller as opposed to some sort of deep philosophical contemplation about the slippery slope of genetic engineering, because that would have totally ruined it.

Splice is no masterpiece, but it’s rare to see a sci-fi horror these days that is actually scary, entertaining, well-acted and doesn’t completely fall apart by the end.

4 stars out of 5!

PS: I can’t think of many good sci-fi horrors depicting experimental freaks of nature off the top of my head.  I mentioned Frankenstein and Species 2, but I’m sure there are others.  I thought  Frankenstein (the one with Robert De Niro) was pretty good, but let’s be honest — we all know why people flocked to see Species.

PPS: Oh, forgot about the underrated The Island of Dr Moreau.