Friday, August 6, 2010

Inception: A Movie Review.

On Wednesday I saw "Inception." I have been really quiet about this fact, because frankly, I didn't want to talk about it. Did I think it was a bad movie? Not in the slightest. Did it frustrate me? Yes, yes it did. I am going to break this review into two segments. The first segment will deal with the movie itself and will have little to no spoiling. The second part will be a review of concept and will likely be spoiler heavy. I will indicate when we reach segment two. So with that said, lets begin.

As with most of Nolan's movies, it's very pretty. It will have a familiar visual tone and vocabulary if you are a fan of his previous work. When it comes to visuals, Nolan is one of my 10 favorite directors. If asked to describe his style in one word, I would have to go with "muted." In a world of Michael Bays and McGs, Nolan has a way of restraining himself when it comes to colors. Every scene seems to have a color palate, and none of them include neon pink.

The story of the movie is inspired. Unlike Avatar from last year, I don't think anyone will be able to accuse this movie of being light on story and plot. If anything, it might try to do too much. The movie at times almost felt overly complicated. Don't mistake that for being "hard to follow." I followed the movie just fine, but it just felt like the movie was trying to do too much at times. There are two completely separate missions for the main character, each almost felt like they could have been their own movie. Leaving a third movie to be made just for the main character's more personal conflicts that appear by the end of the movie. I appreciate Nolan's apparent attempt to avoid a franchise, but sometimes too much story is just too much story. It also left me wanting more character development and interactions, which felt neglected at times in favor of moving the behemoth of a plot forward. With the movie reaching just over the two hour mark, I wish Nolan would have nutted up and either made it a franchise or an honest three hour movie.

The acting is stellar. DiCaprio is powerful, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is likable despite not enough character development and Ellen Page is just a joy to watch. Even Cillian Murphy (Scarecrow from Nolan's Batman series) appears and does a great job. The only actor I really didn't connect with was Marion Cotillard. For some reason, I just didn't feel her in this movie. Any time she was on the screen, it felt like the energy was sucked from the scene. She wasn't bad. It might have just been everyone else was just so good.

This movie also hosts what I think might be one of the best fight scenes ever in a movie. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has a fight where gravity is shifting. You may have seen bits of it in the trailer. Believe, it's as cool as the trailer makes it look. I personally think it's better than most, if not all, the fights shown in the Matrix movies.

At the end of the day, Inception is a well made movie and is entertaining at the very least.

4 out of 5

Segment 2

Inception is a high concept movie. Much like the work of Philip K. Dick, this movie at it's core is a study of human perception. Is the world what we make it? Is the world what it really seems? What makes our dreams any less real than the waking world around us? These are questions that are not new. People have been asking them, and similar questions, since man has first begun asking questions. So does Inception add anything to this dialog? Not in the slightest. The movie is almost all riddle and no solution.

With the movie's ambigious ending, I found myself trying to follow the movie's own rules and come to a conclusion. The problem being that the rules would only apply in the movie's "real world" setting and are void in movie making. Did Cobb and Miles just "appear" at the house or did the film maker just cut from the airport to the house to save time? Are the children appear to be the same age because they were constructs of his memory or is it just because the scenes were all shot in a single day? I don't mind that the story is left open, I mind that the details are so vague that it's hard to even draw your own solution.

While discussing this movie, I actually said "I'm done talking about it. They filmed it so the problem is unsolvable, so there's no point in trying to solve it." The basic principles of film making break the rules of this established world, so there is no weight to the rules. Unless a character verbally points out "I don't remember how we physically got here," there is no way to tell when the rules are being broken as a viewer. For me, that's very frustrating. I listened carefully to the dialog, noticing repeated phrases and themes such as "leap of faith." But by the end of the movie, I felt there was no reward for being attentive. All the things you notice might just be the short comings of the movie or the medium of movies themselves.

In the end I felt like I was being taunted for being a dedicated and observant viewer. I don't mind an open ending, but when you even leave the clues open... I draw the line.

Ryan, I think we have a topic...


  1. If you remember the conversation Leo had w/ his daughter over the phone - her voice & dialogue suggest she's much older than she appears at the end

  2. Why does a film need to be an answer why cant it be a question. Does it bother you that you thought about it and couldn't find a solution other than "the problem is unsolvable"

    Well then I will bug you further, what is reality? that's the basic question of the film and there are plenty of films that ask this question.

    If the film tells you the answer I guess it's all nice and neat and you don't have to wonder anymore.

  3. Glad to see you only browsed the review or simply missed the point...

    If there was no point to the plot than to ask a question, and an unoriginal question at that, it contributes nothing to the discussion. The movie lays out very hard set rules and many of these rules are just common tricks in editing. That's like saying "Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings" and then suddenly the movie becomes a silent movie.

    There's no accountability within the framework of the movie. What fun is a problem if you can't work it out or at least speculate. Inception doesn't even allow for sound speculation since the rules of the world are null and void because of cinematic techniques.

    The worst part is that the movie has no conclusion. Stuff happens, stuff stops happening and there's no resolution to the main character's problem.

    It's a neat movie, but it's also severely flawed.

  4. i like this movie up to some extent.. not great.. it was quite confusing for me to understand..