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Inception (2010)

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Outlandishly complex, visually mesmerizing, and action-packed. “Inception” is an intelligent blockbuster that bursts forth from the screen with all the spectacle and wonder that makes cinema so riveting. With infinite staying-power fortified by unlimited ingenuity, an empathetic human element, and dynamism. “Inception” is easily one of the best science fiction films to ever be released, if not the best. Written and directed by the distinguished Christopher Nolan. “Inception” is a brilliant addition to his already stellar collection of highly memorable films and adds another layer of superlativeness to his stern and bright reputation. Completed by an all-star cast and an absolutely epic score from the incredibly talented Hans Zimmer. “Inception” is an unparalleled cinematic experience and regardless of its intricate story or the grandness of its heart-stopping scale, should stand the test of time (no pun intended).

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Dominic Cobb (DiCaprio) is a skilled thief who is somewhat of a master when it comes to the artistic science of extraction. Simply put, Dom can be inserted into anyones dreams and steal their most valuable secrets and information. After a failed job, Dom and his partner Arthur (Levitt) are hired by Saito (Ken Watanabe), the original target, to convince a rival company’s owner to disband his inheritance. This tactic is officially known as inception. Upon recruiting Eames (Hardy), Ariadne (Page), and a few others, the group begins plotting against their target, Robert Fischer (Murphy), unaware that Dominic is hiding a dark and possibly dangerous secret about his late wife Mal (Cotillard).

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Once again Nolan is able to top his previous efforts with a completely unique and bewildering idea presented with his usual flare and style. Evidently, more than a few like to poke fun at “Inception” claiming its premise as idiotic, amongst other aspects they feel to be miscalculated. Nonetheless, Nolan’s ability to transcend and harness the abstract remains unrivalled and is a much needed jump-start for the currently unbalanced film industry. While the path he has carved for cinema might not be for everyone. Cinephiles and critics universally agree that Nolan is a mind like no other. Arguably the most successful, forward-thinking, genius working in film as of the moment. Nolan always pushes the envelope and upon assisting in the much needed reboot of the Superman franchise, it appears the sky’s the limit for this one of a kind filmmaker, but I digress, back to “Inception.”

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Very rarely does a film come along that proves to be a game-changer, and in every sense, “Inception” is one of these films. Whether it is the folding over of an entire city, mind-churning paradoxes, or astoundingly choreographed action sequences, “Inception” is deliciously appealing. Granted, a majority of these magical, majestic, delectable scenes take place in a fantastical realm. However it doesn’t degrade the sheer intellect, talent, and innovation infused into every single one of these miraculous scenes. And while the production value and intricacy of these aspects is enough for them to stand on their own. What truly puts “Inception” at another level is the brains that accompany the brawn. Equally matched intellectually and visually, “Inception” is its own excellent contrast. The mind and eyes receive quite the workout, yet, never has a strenuous effort felt so euphoric.

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Talk about easy on the eyes. “Inception” has the outwardly striking, abundantly accomplished, and utterly skilled cast to assist in the completing of this masterpiece. Starring the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Cillian Murphy, Marion Cottilard, and Michael Cane, amongst other proficient personnel . “Inception” is undoubtedly the full package with an ensemble that knows no weakness.

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Many will deny it having seen a few of these stars in previous films, but “Inception” officially launched Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Cillian Murphy into the mainstream. Each give a humorous and heartfelt performance that instantly made them crowd favourites. Cottilard and Page do an outstanding job grounding this flick, adding a much needed emotional element to this larger-than-life picture. What can one say about Leonardo DiCaprio, he always makes it look so effortless, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Finally, to quote the great Mr. Nolan, “it’s always good to have a little Michael Caine in your film.”

Literally appealing to every sense, “Inception” is not to be missed by anyone in existence, cinephile or not…and how about that ending?

Inception: 9 out of 10.

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Man of Steel (2013)

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Adding much needed depth and humanity to such an illustrious character, who’s storied and intricate history is as delicate as it is powerful. “Man of Steel” has the action, heart, and nostalgia to satisfy both fanboys and newcomers alike. While it may prove to be too bombastic and interwoven for a few critics and harsh naysayers. This polarization is nothing new to the Superman franchise. Nonetheless, “Man of Steel” is a revival with such exuberance, precision and emotion, that it is nearly impossible to resist its charms. However, having been built-up, collated, and magnified with significant importance and anticipation for close to two years. “Man of Steel” was arguably set-up to disappoint and sadly but inevitably, for some this is the case. Regardless, for die-hards, cinephiles, and inner-children everywhere, including myself. “Man of Steel” was well worth the wait and is a fresh, honest, and mesmerizing take on the world’s most famous superhero.

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Krypton and its inhabitants face imminent destruction due to an unstable core. To protect their new-born child, Jor-El (Crowe) and his wife Lara launch a spacecraft carrying their son Kal-El (Cavill) to Earth, in order to secure the fate of their race. Upon arriving at Earth, Kal is found and taken care of by his adopted parents Jonathan (Costner) and Martha (Lane) Kent, who rename Kal, Clark. Because of Clark’s Kryptonian physiology, he inherits superhuman abilities on Earth. Soon, Clark and the entire population of Earth are under attack from another native of Krypton.

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Written by the immensely successful “Dark Knight” trilogy scribe’s David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan. Who make sure that “Man of Steel” contains all the wonder and amazement of the cosmic superhero’s intergalactic existence, in addition to the grounded and elemental nurturing that fortified the batman re-imagining. “Man of Steel” has all the makings of another fortuitous endeavour, not only for “DC comics,” but all involved. Nolan, who also produced the flick, oversaw most of the film’s creation and was essentially present for the ideal’s birth from Goyer’s mind. Although, clearly stating that he would not direct another Batman film, or superhero film of any kind, Goyer and company had to look elsewhere for someone to helm this reboot. After a slew of high-profile names fell to the wayside, it was visionary filmmaker Zack Snyder who was officially picked to take the reigns.

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Upon witnessing the triumphant boom of the Marvel franchise into multiple blockbusters and countless tangents. DC, simply put, had their work cut out for them. Looking to Christopher Nolan for a spark that would ignite a similar explosion, DC completely entrusted him with their future prosperity…and while it is decidedly easier to simplify Batman with a modern, realistic twist. It is near impossible to humanize and ground a hero who was born amongst the stars and soars through space. Be that as it may, with “Man of Steel,” Goyer and Nolan have managed to transform Superman into a dark and brooding character with a heart and mind just as strong as his physical capabilities. All in all, Nolan has been, and will continue to be the catalyst and made sure that the continuation of DC films not only goes smoothly and successfully, but will continue to thrive.

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Having director Zach Snyder’s keen eye for detail and jaw-dropping flare coordinating with Nolan and Goyer’s taste for believability, soul, and consciousness makes “Man of Steel” the most unique and honest take on the superhero to ever hit the big screen. The film has an exquisite blend of fast-paced action, atmospheric imagery, and heartfelt relationships that never cease resonating. Snyder’s vision for “Man of Steel” brilliantly collaborates with Hans Zimmer’s epic, melancholic soundtrack, Nolan and Goyer’s disheartening, but bewildering script making the finished product truly something to behold. If you let critical skepticism, minor blemishes, and transitional inconsistencies tarnish the films reputation or influence your opinion, this might not be the picture for you. Take my word for it, set aside the hype and reviews, appreciate this breathtaking rebirth for what it is.

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Obviously, without a cast to perfectly animate these features and hard work, the film would utterly falter, luckily, this is not the case. “Man of Steel” stars Henry Cavill in the title role, Amy Adams as the beautiful but brainy Lois Lane and acting heavyweight Michael Shannon as the blood-boiling villain, General Zod. The film’s supporting cast is equally as impressive, if not more so. Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Russell Crowe, Laurence Fishburne and the surprising Antje Traue solidify what is an outstanding ensemble.

It’s been a while since Kevin Costner has blown any of his co-stars out of the water. Yet, aside from Cavill and Shannon, Costner is without question the most sublime and really reminds us all of his staggering talent. Diane Lane and Russell Crowe aren’t far behind, preparing Clark for the brash and brutal reality of the world’s he is now apart of. The two are formidable in their supporting roles and add another layer of brilliance to an already astounding story. As for Fishburne, who is his usual, intimidating self. One can’t help but feel letdown by his standard performance, however, his role was extremely limited. If I’m being completely honest, I had never seen Antje Traue in a film prior to “Man of Steel,” but now that I have, I am smitten. She really captures the fearless mentality of Faora and if i might add, looks quite good doing so.

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Out of the three leads, I’d say that Amy Adams is the most underwhelming. Albeit, that is in comparison to Michael Shannon and Henry Cavill, so a case can be made that it’s more of a compliment than an insult. Yes, she is sweet, cute, and calm in the face of danger. I’m not implying she performed horribly, I’m stating that Lois Lane in general was somewhat underwhelming. Which should be the case considering “Man of Steel” is dealing with the origin story of the man himself, not her. The severely underrated and tragically underused Michael Shannon finally gets his due as a ruthless, violent, determined villain who’s primary goal is to guarantee the safety of his people. One can tell that Shannon has always had this dark, primal catharsis waiting to be unleashed deep down inside. Now, finally, Shannon has burst into the mainstream and will hopefully stay there. Shannon delivers a powerhouse performance.

Henry Cavill is Superman: the body, the hair, the voice, everything. I don’t know how else to put it. His acting is superlative, he clearly got in incredible shape for the picture, so he obviously invested heavily in the role. Everything about his emotional range, mannerisms, even the way the suit fits him is enough to send chills down your spine.

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“Man of Steel” offers a never-ending series of heart-racing action seqeucnes that look anything but contrived or inauthentic. One thing on everyones mind prior to the film was how Cavill would look while flying, and thankfully, these segments look dignified. Snyder should gain a stronger fan-base with “Man of Steel” considering his preceding films left audiences divided to say the least. For those Superman enthusiasts, be sure to look out for a few easter-eggs throughout the film. They’re sort of like subtle nods to the audience, a way of saying thank you and we appreciate you.

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For the record, I’m overjoyed that I’m struggling to convey how I feel about “Man of Steel” in this review. As with every film that is or eventually becomes an all-time favourite of mine, I have a hard time dissecting them. I think it’s because I can never quite put my finger on what I love about them. It’s just a reaction, a series of euphoric shocks to my brain. I write excessively trying to unveil the root of my fascination, but never can, that’s why this review and all others like it are so long. I think this is the best way to describe how I feel about “Man of Steel.”

Man of Steel: 8.5 out of 10.