Monday, February 28, 2011




Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Tagline: The dream is real.

Run time: 148 Minutes

Watched: In the theater

Quick summary: Inception is the story of Cobb, a thief who specializes in extracting information from deep in the subconscious of dreams. His skill set has led him to the lucrative world of corporate espionage, but it has also made him an international fugitive and cost him everything he ever loved. Cobb and his team are given one last job, thought to be impossible: planting an idea rather than stealing one.

Let me start this off by saying that I have loved every Christopher Nolan movie I have seen. Memento is one of my favorites of all time. Insomnia was good too. I thought Batman Begins and The Dark Knight were fantastic. When I first saw the trailer for Inception, I was in as soon as I heard Christopher Nolan. Add in the fact that it is starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page, all of whom I think are awesome, and I was hooked. I stood no chance of not seeing Inception. Leading up to the night we went to see it, my wife and I were both brimming with anticipation. Then the movie started.

And all of that changed. The movie was too complex. Not so much that I couldn’t understand it, or didn’t get it, but it felt like it was using that complexity as a crutch to carry the movie along. An inordinate amount of time was taken in explaining what was going on, rather than showing it, which is understandably tough given the complexity.

I was under whelmed. I was expecting something more like Memento: original, interesting, complex but understandable. What I got was something very original that could have been interesting had it not been so convoluted. I wanted so badly to be blown away, and I wasn't.

Now, I may need to watch it again, after some time has passed to get a clearer, fresher view of it, but I think I need to wait a little while longer.

I haven’t let my opinion of this cloud my opinion of Nolan, whom I still respect and will still see his movies when they come out. But I think he just tried too hard on this one to make it complex. I have no idea how he was able to explain this to anyone to make it make any kind of sense to the cast, and as I left the theater my only question was: how did he pitch this?  But he did. And he got his movie made. And it made millions. Which I guess makes it a lot like Avatar.

Both movies relied heavily on one thing to cover the fact that the story wasn’t that good.

Oscars Won: Visual Effects, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Cinematography.

Nominations: Original Score, Art Direction, Original Screenplay, Best Picture
Was it the best movie of the year? No, it didn’t deserve to win, and if it had, I would have thought the Oscars were a bigger sham than they are.

But the real question is: Is Inception better than Avatar?

I have to say that it is. The acting is better. The story, while not the best, is still better than Avatar’s. It’s also shorter than Avatar, which would give you more time to try and figure which dream level you might be in.  

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Karate Kid (2010)

 The Karate Kid (2010)


Tagline:  A Challenge He Never Imagined. A Teacher He Never Expected.


Run Time: 140 minutes


Starring: Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Taraji P. Henson

Directed by: Harald Zwart


Watched: On Netflix

Quick summary: After moving to China with his mother, 12 year-old Dre Parker meets a girl, gets bullied, learns kung fu from a wise maintenance man and learns valuable life lessons along the way. Jaden Smith stars as Dre Parker and Jackie Chan portrays Mr. Han in this remake of the 1984 classic of the same name.

Now typically, I am opposed to the idea of a remake. If the first one was good, why bother? Why spend all that money and time remaking something that people already enjoyed? And I, for one, really liked the original Karate Kid. So I was understandably skeptical when I started watching the new Karate Kid.

But to be honest, I was wrong. The movie was pretty good. Granted, I’m not really the target demographic, but all the same. They took the same premise behind the original, and tweaked it just a bit, moved it to China and made it modern.

Side note: Any movie set in China must show all of the following: The Great Wall of China, Ancient Chinese Temples, street chases through city markets, and large groups of people wearing matching attire practicing martial arts. The Karate Kid nails all of these.

I was also skeptical of Jaden Smith, having never seen Jaden Smith do anything, I wasn’t sure he would be able to act at all. But he wasn’t bad. He wasn’t great, and won’t win any awards, but he was probably the best child actor in the movie. And his action scenes weren’t terrible either; he did a pretty convincing job of it. It probably helped having Jackie Chan on set. Dude knows stunt-fighting. And well done stunt-fighting is pretty awesome.

The only real complaint I have is that it went on a little too long. No movie, let alone a family movie should ever be over two hours long. Kids get bored easily. And I could probably do without the Justice Beaver song during the credits, but at least he did not have a cameo.

I like to compare actor’s movies against their other movies, but since I haven’t seen Jaden Smith in anything else, he’s out. So that leaves Jackie Chan.

Was it better than Supercop? Yes
Was it better than Rumble in the Bronx? Oh yes.
Was it better than all three Rush Hour films? I’d say so.
Was it better than the original Karate Kid? That, I don’t know. And to decide, I am going to have to watch the original again. Luckily, it’s on Netflix, so I’ll be able to find out soon.
But the real question is: Is it better than Avatar?

Yes. Gun to my head, forced to choose, I will watch The Karate Kid before I would watch Avatar. Plus you can spend the extra 22 minutes you’ll save trying to sweep the leg.

Coming up next: Reviews of the 2011 Best Picture Noms (at least the ones that I have seen so far). 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Welcome to Is It Better Than Avatar?: A Movie Review Blog. The goal of this is is simple. Time is important to us. So is entertainment. When we watch movies, we want to be entertained for that period of time.

But it's not always easy deciding on what movies to watch, so I have developed a simple system to let you know whether a movie is worth watching or should you just watch Avatar instead.

Let me lay this out for you, I did not like Avatar. I may have even hated it when it was over.

But I was looking forward to watching it. Everyone said it was the best thing ever and that I would love it. Well, they were all wrong. It was 3 hours of bright blues and greens and glowing aliens  and weird sex with flying horse birds and CGI. You strip away all the special effects and 3d and what do you have? Fern Gully.

So that's it. The first review should be up later this week, and I will try and keep at it 2 or 3 times a week.

Comments, suggestions and criticisms are welcomed.