The Advantage Serial TV Has Over Movies, Plus Reviews for Bridesmaids, Inception, and Harry Potter

Movies:
With so many TV repeats, November and December are the perfect months for me to catch up on movies I've been wanting to see.

Bridesmaids
Year: 2011
Genre: Comedy
Format: Watched at home on Netflix DVD rental
Rating: *** 1/2

A funny movie about two best friends whose relationship changes when one gets engaged and asks the other to be her maid of honor.  This buddy movie will make you laugh.  There's some good mocking of the wedding industry and how over-the-top it's become. It's true that you need to like gross humor to enjoy some of the funniest scenes.  I also wish there were less scenes of Annie being sad. Overall though, I enjoyed this funny movie about women and their friendships. It's a good addition to the buddy film genre.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Year: 2009, 2010, 2011
Genre: fantasy and adventure
Format: watched on my computer with iTunes rental
Rating: ****, *** 1/2, ****

It takes me a few minutes to adjust to each Harry Potter movie because most of the characters (except Harry) look different than I imagined them when I read the books.  Hermione, especially, is much prettier in the movie than she's described in the books. This is what happens when you read the bulk of a series before any movies are made. 

Once I adjust though, I enjoy these movies.  They really do stay true to the books and make the stories come alive. The last movie is especially exciting as it ties up the whole series quite nicely.  *Sigh*  It's sad to be done with Harry Potter now.

Inception
Year: 2010
Genre: sci-fi, action-adventure
Format: Watched at home on Netflix DVD rental
Rating: *** 1/2

I finally saw this movie about a group of thieves who steal information by going into a person's dream.  It's a cool concept. The likable cast is lead by Leonardo DiCaprio, one of those actors who makes it easy to identify with his character right away.  The stakes for his character are set really high too, so I wanted him to succeed.  Overall, I enjoyed the movie but it didn't blow me away.

What Inception Taught Me About the Limits of Movies and the Advantages of Serial TV:
Inception made me realize the disadvantage movies have over modern TV shows. Before the days of VCRs, DVDs, DVRs,iTunes, Hulu, and Netflix, TV shows tended to have self-contained episodes without a lot of character development.  Some shows — like, Castle or The Big Bang Theory — still use this model.  But now many TV shows equal or surpass movies with the types of complex and emotionally rewarding stories they tell because viewers can easily catch up on episodes or whole seasons they've missed,   Serial TV is my favorite.  I especially love shows where there's a problem of the week but also a season long arc.

For every story — book, movie, or TV form — the viewer or reader has to invest in an initial amount of time getting to know the characters and understanding the story background. For Inception, I was confused for 30 minutes before I understood what was going on and who these characters were.  Since the total movie was 148 minutes, that meant there was only 2 hours left to tell the story and let me enjoy the characters.  That's not a lot of enjoyment for my 30-minute investment.

The viewer really only gets to know the main character. All the other characters– like the characters played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page — were support for the main character.  Considering the amount of concentration I needed to keep all the different plot layers straight, the pay-off wasn't all that great.  The main character was the only one who developed and changed. I kept thinking how much better this story would be if it were the first season of a TV show.  Then I'd discover all the back stories of the supporting characters too, so when they did the final job, the stakes would be that much higher.

When Fringe had an episode with a similar set up to Inception, it took me a shorter time to understand what was going on –even though I hadn't seen Inception yet– and the emotional pay off was bigger because I already knew the characters and cared about them.  I wasn't just concerned about Olivia and if she'd survive her dream, I was concerned about all of them surviving. Plus, I cared how their struggle in the dream would affect the relationships between them too.  That's why I prefer serial TV over movies now.

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