Sunday, August 1, 2010

Inception, waking up and letting go

Have you ever had a dream so enjoyable you didn't want to wake up? Or been so engrossed by something that you wanted to take the story further after it ended? (*cough* North and South)

There's a lot of hype about Christopher Nolan's latest movie with words like "stunningly complex" and "mind-blowing". That's bound to disappoint some people with the expectation of greatness already planted in their minds. Inception is a detailed allegorical movie that puts all its emotional eggs in one basket and shakes it all around.

It's a twist on the 'one last job of a heist movie' where waking up to find it was all just a dream is actually the aim! When you're unconscious you're left mentally unguarded, and people like Leonardo di Caprio and his posse can slip inside to steal your secrets. Something much harder to do is to subtly plant ideas which you'll remember after you awaken. Think 'The Matrix' meets 'Oceans 11' with some shades of 'Solaris'. Imagine you dreamed you went to sleep and dreamed you went to sleep and dreamt some more...get it?

Was it any good?? Well...yes. I'd recommend it to anyone who appreciates movies as a vehicle for new concepts or special effects. It's worth watching solely for THE COOLEST MOST ORIGINAL FIGHT SCENE EVER. Finally I can associate Joseph Gordon-Levitt with something other than Tommy from Third Rock from the Sun.

My favourite part of Inception (image from

It's pretty easy to see the allegory to film-making and the cinematic experience, but there are plenty of other interpretations, like substance addiction, online computer games, social networking sites and even religion. But with so much happening on screen there are bound to be weaknesses, three in fact.

1. The Ellen Page character, or Exposition Vehicle. She sees some weird stuff in Leonardo di Caprio's dreams and spends the rest of the movie nagging him like that buzzer on my alarm clock Monday mornings. Annoying!

2. You can spot Leonardo's big mysterious secret long before it's gravely and dramatically revealed. I hate it when that happens. Probably because I got a little confused at times that I had to guess ahead just to keep up with the story.

3. Only two characters get developed: Leonardo and the corporate guy #2, the rest are cool archetypal story props. I wouldn't have had a problem with this if the movie hadn't made such a big deal out of Leonardo's unresolved issues. All the recurring imagery is a powerful reminder of his guilt and regret, but at the emotional climax I wasn't convinced his character had earned the closure. In the interest of keeping this spoiler-free, I'll leave it at that.


Avalon said...

I will have to give the movie a try, never seen it.

Chris said...

"Finally I can associate Joseph Gordon-Levitt with something other than Tommy from Third Rock from the Sun."

You didn't see 500 Days of Summer?

Starheart said...

Chris, I saw the first 15 minutes and have since blocked it out with retail therapy.

Avalon, it's a good one to see on the big screen.