Harry Knowles – Ain’t It Awful?

16 08 2010

His neckbeard looks like a red lace scarf.

Anyone who is a geek and has access to the internet is completely aware of Mr. Harry Knowles, the man behind Ain’t It Cool News. Before the countless movie and television blogs, AICN was one of the main sources for news and rumors about the stuff we love. But as time has gone on, people have rejected it and its founder Harry.

Recently Harry reviewed the film Inception. While there are several opinions on the film itself, Harry’s review is nothing short of laziness to an amazing degree.

My initial impression, from that screening, where I missed easily 30-40 minutes due to napping… well, I thought the film was exquisitely crafted, meticulously slaved over – but honestly… it put me to sleep.

Not really a problem, I’ve slept through movies before. But I wasn’t reviewing them. Maybe it was a bad day or he was just tired, I can completely understand being too busy to get rest. But if you’re going to review a major film, get some rest then see the movie. I’m even reasonable sure a critic could get a screener copy for review. Would we ever hear any other critic describe falling asleep during the movie? I don’t think so, but he goes on with his review instead of stopping.

The most quotable line of the film is the “You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.” well, that’s the line that haunts the entire film for me. Tom Hardy delivers the line with relish, but even the punchline, pulling up that grenade launcher is… frankly lame. Because if you can “dream” a weapon up – that makes me wonder what the hell these people are doing dreaming up regular firearms.

Based on my understand, Harry wanted magic or robots. Something to keep his attention, which is apparently on the same level as most 8 year-old boys with ADD while on a sugar high.

I also got zero sense of research for these Dream Landscapes. There’s nothing peppered from the targets interest. Other than a couple of business contacts. Does this guy not have a girlfriend, a best friend… anything? I mean, Ellen Page is an architect that creates a landscape for Cillian Murphy’s character is supposed to project everything he is into. Apparently he’s a guy that watches James Bond movies, cuz that’s what he projects into his dream.

If he had watched the first third of the movie, he would have had a lot of this explained. The dreams are basically grounded for a reason and how they are created is explained to some degree. Harry either doesn’t care to even look at a page that explains it. Maybe if there were flashing lights and noises, he’d like it better.


Other than dealing with dreams, Inception has nothing in common with those films. While using some ideas that had been used before, Inception was trying to be different. I think that Harry’s biggest problem was that the film didn’t use wacky dream imagery. He wants dragons, walking on clouds, and magic. While that can work in some movies, that just isn’t what Inception is about. The Terminator carries some similarities with Star Wars. Both use robotic characters, both have a messianic figure. But I don’t see too many people complaining that Star Wars wasn’t about R2-D2 and C-3PO going on a killing spree.

There is more pure imagination at play when Ellen Page is first playing in the dream construct with Leo – than at any other point in the film. I kept wanting the world to be turned upon its ear. I wanted to see impossible things as simply the landscape for the mind. I don’t know about you – but my dreams are influenced by artists, emotional states, memories both lived and watched… in dreams I can fly, the ground can suck you under, there’s more to it than just putting one foot in front of the other.

For a dream, INCEPTION is just too grounded. To Nolan I would repeat his own line, “You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.”

The reason that bugs me so is here we have a filmmaker that can capture in lucid clarity pretty much anything, and when he creates a property that could deliver anything, he delivers a very limited level of imagination.

If there is a thing I’ve noticed about Nolan, it is that he likes to keep everything grounded. The man made two Batman movies that seem realistic for God’s sake. He even went to the point having whole scenes in both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight where the technology behind the gadgets is explained in detail.

In Inception, the dreams have to be kept grounded. The characters need the person to not be aware they are dreaming. When they change something, the dreamer’s mental projections become aware of it and chase them. The first third of the film is devoted to this and it is explained several other times. It is even shown during the training sequence, which Harry seems to like. But the purpose of that scene was to show why they shouldn’t do it.

I found myself returning to Terry Gilliam’s THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS – where there’s a far more personal, imaginative and superior imagination on display telling a greater metaphoric story and not getting half the response from folks.

Despite my love of that film, it is a completely different type of movie. Both deal with dream-like imagery, but Inception is supposed to be more of a heist movie. They couldn’t be any more different. Nolan and Gilliam, two directors who I have a lot of respect for and a lover of their work, are completely different in every possible way. You really can’t even compare the two without looking like an idiot, which Harry apparently is.

Of course – maybe these are the dreams of executives. In which case, I’ll choose the dreams of artists. Every time.

Anyone with even the slightest understanding of anything knows that no executive had any control over this movie. This is 100% Nolan and anyone who bothered to look it up knows that. The movie itself can be seen as Nolan’s insight to have the film-making process works. A man has an idea that he wants to implant in the minds of the audience. So he gathers a team to assist him, each one chosen to do a task. But he needs backing, so he gets a studio to pay for it. Ken Watanabe’s character is the executive on the set, seeing just how hard the process actually is. Leonardo DiCaprio’s character is the director, knowing that if he fails he takes the full blame. There is no way any executive changed a single thing. It isn’t dumbed down on any level, yet it is a success and will hopefully lead to more original ideas in film instead of adaptations, remakes, and sequels. Which is the sort of thing executives prefer, they like to play it safe. Inception was far from a safe idea, it actually required the audience to think. But that wasn’t enough for poor Harry, he wants robots and magic.

It really doesn’t matter what you think about Inception, this is just a poor excuse for reviewing. Even if you hate the movie, you can’t say that Harry even tried.

Guess how he felt about Sly's movies?

But his problems go on. If you read the site, you usually know which movies he’ll love. Nearly every single time, he loves anything where the people behind the film pay him any attention. Look at the Expendables, Harry has been to the set, given exclusive content. Then he raves about it. While I haven’t seen it and can’t comment on the quality of the movie, it does appear that Harry may be a little biased.

While there is nothing wrong with some level of bias, he reviews movies for a living. He’s supposed to tell us if the movie is good or bad and why. Now if a bad movie gives him a blow job, he probably isn’t going to give an accurate review. Far from it, he’s going call it the greatest thing ever. He even called Scott Pilgrim vs. the World the best movie of the summer without seeing it. I’m seeing the movie on Monday and I’m excited by it, but I’m not willing to throw my hat over the wall like that. All it really shows is that he is a sellout and is pretty much the worst thing to ever happen to movie reviews. At the very least he could appear to try, but he fails to do that.

Going back to his clusterfuck of a review. If you missed a major segment of a movie, don’t review it. Especially after it has been out for a few weeks. It really seems like he wants to be the guy who is too cool for the room. The majority of critics and audiences like it, so he was to be against it. All in a sad effort to stand out. Much like the few people who gave Toy Story 3 bad reviews, although they took the effort to talk about when the movie first came out. Making his weak excuse of a review even more pathetic.




6 responses

17 09 2010

Knowles is lame indeed, but your review of his review is LAME

17 09 2010

I’ll give you that.

6 01 2011

Reviewing a review is lame, but someone needs to take Knowles down a few pegs.

10 01 2011

It was either that or nothing but fat jokes. I considered doing something about his baffling hate of Toy Story 3. But by the time I actually read his review, it was months later. Besides the Talkbackers have called him out for that a number of times.

10 01 2011

Oh…I was responding to the previous comment. It was kind of an “I sort of agree with you, but it needed to be done and I’m glad it was at least entertaining. I think I was sleep depped.

10 01 2011

No worries, it happens to all of us.

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