Sunday, January 16, 2011

Movie Appraisal: Inception (2010)

Okay, I have to collect my thoughts after watching this film. Wow. Just wow. I'm almost speechless. This film was beautiful and extremely well done. This is the kind of movie that every single movie should be. It was wonderful from beginning to end. It surprised me... no, it stunned me. I was expecting something decent and kind of watchable, something like the other films of Christopher Nolan (the director), like Memento or, God help me, The Prestige, neither of which I liked very much. This film was sublime. It was long, but never felt long. It was beautiful and always felt real even though most of it took place within dreams.

It was an exciting experience from beginning to end. The storytelling was top-notch even if it was predictable. (And it was predictable, incredibly predictable.) That's not necessarily a bad thing though. I thought that the film going the way it did was the only way the film could have possibly worked. Any deviation and the film would have been phenomenal and especially not to me.

I'm not saying this is a perfect film, and sure I can criticize and nitpick some small things. The beginning of the film goes very slowly. Some of the characters feel a little thin and kind of unreal, and the whole science-fiction premise is kind of barely based in real science at all. Despite those tiny... and I do mean tiny... flaws, the film is wonderful. Due to the nature of the film and the interpretations you could come out of the film with, the characterizations could make PERFECT sense, as can the slow start, and even the science-fiction premise.

I like films like this. Actually these are the films I not only like, but really love. They are vague and have a huge amount of interpretations and conclusions. This is why I love Jacob's Ladder and 1408 and speak of how good those films are at every turn. Those films have multiple interpretations. They both have such odd things happening that it's hard to believe they are happening in reality. Inception is exactly the same even if it isn't a horror film. It deals with the same arguments of fantasy versus reality and the real versus the unreal. It doesn't show all its hand, and it proves, in my opinion, that even a popular movie can be intelligent and philosophical, unlike drivel like The Matrix.

The story is basically one of a man, Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), trying to find a way back to a normal life after finding himself in a bit of a bind. He is a professional dream thief with his partner Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). They essentially try to steal information from people in their dreams by making a dream world and breaking down a person's mental defenses.

The story unfolds and we find out that Cobb wants to reunite with his children whom he is estranged from for various reasons that I'm not going to spoil. Cobb isn't allowed into the United States for a certain reason and soon after Cobb and Arthur's job fails, the person who they were supposed to steal information from, Mr. Saito (Ken Watanabe), approaches them with a new contract. They accept and the story unfolds from there, bringing other characters into the fold such as Eames (Tom Hardy), Yusef (Dileep Rao), and Ariadne (Ellen Page). (I like how they named her Ariadne since she's "spinning" the web of the dream. Really big pun there, folks.)

The story is labyrinthine and beautiful, a tale being woven together through dreams. As the characters go deeper into the dreams, we, the audience, go deeper as well. We learn the secrets as characters learn the secrets... we feel their pain, know their confusion, fight their fight. It's beautiful and satisfying in every sense of those words. I found myself utterly taken in by the plot, following it as closely as a deer follows headlights. What I'm trying to say is that the story is wonderful and brilliant. It's incredibly hard to find something I dislike here. I love the vagueness of it all. I love how some things don't seem to make a ton of sense. I love how some things aren't explained.

Hell, this movie can make a great comparison piece to Black Swan. This movie succeeded where that one failed. This movie left me wanting so much more whereas Black Swan told me way too much. This movie was visually stunning, but didn't rely on that alone, whereas Black Swan only had visuals to fall back upon because its psychological and plot elements were badly done. The film is so much better than Black Swan that it's hilarious. To me this isn't so much a comparison as it is a slaughter. Inception wins by a landslide.

Another obvious film to compare this to is What Dreams May Come, a beautiful movie that shares some similar elements to this film. I don't even really want to go into it that deeply because both films are so beautiful and stunning that I'd rather not spoil anything about them. If you've seen both films, you already know what my comparisons are, and if you haven't seen both films, then go see them immediately, you stupid fool.

There I go calling my readers "stupid fools". Oh, well... can't do much about it now. It's not like I can just erase it or anything... well, I can, but... then I'd have to move my finger and everything... *sigh*... I simply can't be bothered.

I'm going to gloss over the visual effects here. The movie is beautiful, enough said, but it's not the visuals of this movie that make it beautiful, it's the story, the subtle art of the cinematography, the wonderful editing, the great direction, and the amazing acting. Everything comes together and creates a world and a story that I find hard to look away from. This is a movie I didn't want to end because I wanted to see more. I wanted more to happen... and yet it ended exactly where and how it should and left me smiling.

I do have to mention the acting again. It is superb. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Leonardo DiCaprio both really did an amazing job, as did Ellen Page. I've never even seen her in anything before, or Joseph Gordon-Levitt for that matter either, and they both do a wonderful job. It was wonderful to see Ellen Page's awe as she descends into the dream for the first time. And watching Joseph Gordon-Levitt was fantastic. He had an interesting character with a unique outlook. He was pretty cool.

Okay, I'm practically gushing over this film... but, to me, it really is that good. I would happily watch this Inception over and over again, like I would do with Jacob's Ladder, 1408, and Stay if I had the time. It's such a beautiful piece, both psychologically and emotionally, as well as visually, and it's kind of inspiring to know that a film like this can go on to not only be made, but to do well in popular opinion. I haven't even touched upon some of my favorite sequences, as the team, gradually decreasing, goes from a dream into a dream within a dream and into a dream within that dream and so on. It works out so well, showing the tension  on every level of the different dreams. Some of the emotional bits towards the end are absolutely fantastic and beautiful (I keep using that word!) and work so well in my opinion. Again, I don't want to spoil anything, but if you have a heart at all you have to empathize with Cobb and maybe even want to cry a little bit... not that I did for I am a man, but it does get kind of sad, you know? And I wouldn't necessarily blame even a manly man for crying a little tear out of his eye a little bit at the ending sequences... Yeah...

Anyway, I'm going to stop gushing. Go and watch this film. It's really good and really fun and pretty darn wonderful. It was a great film experience. It made me happy.


  1. Look over here — NOW WHAT'S THIS!? — NOW THIS IS HAPPENING! — now back over here — A Christopher Nolan film

    I wasn't in love with Inception. Nolan's not a good director for a story with so many convoluted rules. I respect that he wasn't trying to make a movie about dreams that didn't necessarily 'feel' like a dream, but far too much time focused on a lot of generic action (save the hallway scene with JGL). So yeah, I am in disagreement but that still doesn't make Tom Hardy any less delicious.

  2. See, I don't usually like Christopher Nolan when he's not doing Batman... (Although I didn't actually love "The Dark Knight"...) I thought "The Prestige" was an absolutely terrible film and "Memento" was mediocre at best.

    I can see what you're saying and I can agree with you, but I almost think it works for this movie. The generic action was generic action. It could have been cut out, but I kind of liked the struggle. It was fun.

    I simply thought this film was very good. It will never be my favorite movie, but it really does stick out as a film that, in my estimation, is going in the right direction at the very least.

  3. I'm just very cranky when I'm not swooning over Tom Hardy.

    HOWEVER, I should be thankful that a summer tentpole was this audacious in its premise/execution/resolution. If summer had more Inception's and fewer Clash of the Titan's, it would be a step in the right direction.

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