Reviews: Inception

Taking a concept to the point it becomes a tedious, charmless, exhibit.

When movies try to break away from the notions of reality, it is an excuse to do the impossible. All of which is to achieve the core objective; which is to entertain and maybe even convey ideas. Unfortunately, Nolan contructs a movie as you would a card game; full of rules that exist as a formality, which then begin to infringe upon the entertainment value. The rules begin to become far more of an obstacle, then a tool for something that creates or inspires something truly creative.

Inception uses painful exposition to steer in these rules and conditions; where something must happen or be averted and yet for all the huffy seriousness, it fails to create stakes that make the game really interesting. Death is a removed concept here in favour delving further into dreams and finally limbo. None of which seems to create any real fear or terror. But there just isnít even anything in this movie to generally care about in the first place. The characters are all vague and lacking; just like the universe at large. All that they have to show for it are the basic names such as Cobol engineering. Everything seems so sterile and detached and even the central character, Cobb feels uninteresting and stodgy.

By the end of the movie they devolve into ho hum action, which just lacks the raw passion or energy to make even that entertaining. Even the concept (which aims to hold some gravity) becomes a long worn-out joke by the end which continues on because Nolan completely fails to create a reality that has the depth or love to be believable, acceptable or even desirable. All this movie does is poke holes at itself and suggest there is but another dream, around the corner.

It really isnít Sci-Fi because where is the jargon or the scientific explanations? The so called PASIV technology in no way feels scientific but a very obvious phlebotinum. This is a movie that tries to capture some slick noir and just like Blade Runner, it becomes boring because of it. Itís not necessary and it doesnít really add to it except the feeling that the movie is overtly and creatively sterile.

Beyond the concept of a dream beyond a dream beyond, there is nothing else visceral. Donít see this movie, as it wonít occupy your dreams or your thoughts, for reasons good.

A Mind Screw at First, But, it Gets Better

"Inception" is basically about a group of people who go into the dreams of Robert Fisher, a billionaire heir whose father recently died. These people - Cobb, Ariadne, Arthur, Yusuf, Eames, and Saito - must go into Fischer's dreams and plant the idea of him breaking up his father's company. It's a difficult ride, as enemy projections and Cobb's dead wife, Mal, impede them.

Inception is not only classy, smart, and sophisticated, but, it brings out the other emotions. I laughed during the parts where the team practiced the kick that would get them awake, I had my mouth open in awe during the anti-gravity scenes in the hotel, I cheered when the team got to L.A. with the job a success, and, I teared up during the scenes with Mal and Cobb or Fischer and his father toward the end. All of this and more made it a fantastic movie, but, be warned, it may be a Mind Screw in the beginning, but, if you pay attention, you'll get it in no time.

Personally, I think that in the end, Cobb was in reality, as we see him wake up from all the dreams levels shortly before the crew arrives at L.A.X. Even Word of God pretty much confirms this.

My only gripes are the fact that Yusuf got the least amount of lines, we didn't get closure on the rest of the crew, and the fact that Taylor Swift was almost cast as Ariadne, my favorite crew member.

As stated, my favorite crew member - even though I liked all of them - was Ariadne, who was strong, resourceful, and smart, which makes her a good female movie role model for everyone. In short, she's just plain cool.

In my opinion, Inception ranks in between Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and One Piece Strong World as my favorite movie, which means I will definitely see it again.

Not A Fan

I find it strange that Inception spent 20 minutes showing the viewer all the cool ways to bend reality (rolling up Paris, fooling around with impossible architecture) and then spent the next two hours building a heist that employed NONE of these tricks.

Why did we need to see Paris folding up? It was cool, but the characters didn't even bother to use these abilities when it actually counted. Except for one hardly-satisfying Penrose stair in the hotel dreamworld, the entire movie was played as straight as your typical heist movie (read: Oceans Eleven). Why weren't Dom and Ariadne and Co. screwing with the laws of physics to make their job easier? The film's rationale was that the stranger the circumstances of the dream, the more likely the projections will realize and start to attack. I don't buy it: seems like the projections were attacking anyway. The job would have been a whole lot easier (especially in the snow world) if they had used their abilities.

So that's what Inception is: Ocean's Eleven for people who like to pretend they're watching imaginative movies.

By the end, I was watching it alone

Having heard positive reviews, I bought the Inception blu-ray for my dad as a Father's Day present. My parents and siblings all gathered around the TV to enjoy the film as a family (since we're so very rarely all together anymore) and started it up.

About 2/3 of the way through, I was the only one still watching and I finished it alone.

I was a bit surprised at how little I enjoyed the film. It had such an interesting premise from the blurbs I had read. And yet watching it play out onscreen, it felt so utterly...banal and generic. Here was an idea that had seemingly limitless possibilities - examining a person's dream state and using it to implant an idea in their mind. An idea that was not their own, but this fact would never be apparent. Certainly, such a premise could be taken in innumerable directions. Dreams are utterly chaotic — they have no rhyme or reason to them but often reflect subconscious desires. Likewise, the ability to implant an idea would be, on some level, akin to mind control. Except, of course, the beauty of it is that the control itself would emerge from the subject's own mind rather than any external influence. There would be no way to resist.

Sadly, however, the film seemed to simply rely on generic thriller tropes. The dreams themselves were of perfectly normal-looking locations and had to adhere to a set logic, for some reason. Perhaps it is because I've never lucid-dreamt, but I found this premise to be odd and difficult to relate to. I have never once in my entire life confused my dreams for reality, nor do they feel "real" when I'm in them. If a giant train suddenly sped through any of my dream-worlds, I would find it positively mundane.

Also, I honestly failed to see what was so confusing about the film. It was laid out pretty clearly — the way that "kicks" functioned and the need for a layered dream in order for inception to work. I had issues with the premise, but following the story wasn't at all difficult. Sure, the ending introduced some ambiguity by questioning whether Dom actually was in the real world or yet another layer, but this is hardly an insightful idea. The Matrix brought this notion up in 1999 and it certainly isn't the originator.

Overall, I found the premise unengaging, the plot to be rather intellectually undemanding, and the characters poorly developed. Pass.

Interesting Ideas, Brilliant Actors, Inconceivably Stupendous Plot

This movie was mind boggling with how innovative it was. If you're smart, the plot is understandable, but you can't really just sit back and enjoy. Every moment was brilliantly set up, making connections everywhere. A thriller, shocking, and makes the thinking man question his reality once again. Indecisive, but decidedly so at the end, leaving one with questions comparable to Nineteen Eighty Four.

What makes this movie great is that it uses dreams to make a reverse heist movie with a complex, yet understandable story, with interesting settings and possibilities. The characters play well together, and Cob's back-story really sells the it. The setting of dreams allowed for interesting ideas to happen, but didn't stray into a Mind Screw. The plot was well paced, and had great connections and motif's scattered throughout. You could compare it to the Ocean's movies but none of them come close to Inception. Watch it, pay attention, and be amazed.

Interplay of Concept and Execution

Inception is a movie that perhaps builds itself up to be a little grander than it actually is. If you look at the special effects, anyway. All that mindwarping stuff you saw in the trailer is about all you'll get in the movie, other than a spectacular hotel fight.

This being a Nolan film, the focus is far more on its story. As such, each and every character is presented as morally grey (if you keep up with the rapid exposistion). At its core, however, Inception isn't so much the story of a team of experts planning a heist as it is the story of Dom Cobb and Robert Fischer, and their quest for redemption in the context of a heist, which is itself within the context of a dream. Even more layers for you. The stellar acting on the parts of Di Caprio and Murphy really make these parts moving, even if their characters' motives are questionable.

Now, despite what the special effects could have been, I still think the action of this movie really succeeds because of the scenario it establishes. At the movie's climax, we are watching action in four different layers of a dream, all occuring at the same time. If even one of the layers goes awry, the whole plan falls apart, but there's no other way to do it. Instead of just being a confused mess, the careful editing job it really gave the impression of a heightened sense of action, and for that, I applaud Nolan.

A lot of the credit he likely owes to Mr. Hans Zimmer. Say what you will about him; I still think he's an excellent composer, and his score in this movie matches the tone perfectly. Every track sounds wonderful in the context of the scene it's in, and some even without. "Time" in particular stands out.

While Inception probably could have benefitted from a more thrilling special effects and character development for some of its more minor cast, it still succeeds largely in what it tries to do. It comes highly recommended.

The execution is interesting, but the concept holds a lot more promise

I've had many dreams in my life, some of them recurring. Dreams of failing college because I didn't attend one of my classes, a dream of riding my bike and crashing it, and a dream in which my grandfather was still alive. I've also had some rather surreal ones, such as one dream that wasn't in first-person and involved an empty cathedral and a shadowy being patrolling it, or a dream in high school in which I was in a swimming pool placed for some reason in the middle of the band room, while the entire band played and I was hoping no-one would notice me not with them (I was in band at the time, and hated it).

There's a lot of potential in a movie about entering dreams in at attempt to plant information in someone's mind, but sadly, in the movie's ~2.5 hours, a lot of that potential remains untapped.

Rules are established. We're told that random civilians in the dream are subconscious projections of the dreamer, and can turn on people who mess with the dream. That makes sense; I've had dreams where the people around me all seemed intimidating in some way, and I can picture it working here. If you die in the dream, you wake up. Having had two dreams that literally jolted me awake (neither involved death, but both involved injury), that also is a good idea. And naturally, time seems slower in a dream, something I've also experienced when I'd wake up while still tired, fall back asleep, have a vivid dream, then wake up only 10 minutes later and be surprised so little time had passed. And people can also dream within the dreams, slowing time down even more.

But the dreams themselves are as mundane as the first three I'd described. Dreams can be surreal, but much of the time, they're not. They're boring, everyday stuff. The locations in the movie, while varied (hotel, snowy mountain, city streets), are also realistic and lacking in surreal elements.

The established rules are used to fuel the story: characters enter dreams within dreams in order to run and hide, and some subconscious elements actually do play a role, such as the protagonist's guilt over his wife's death.

Still, I think a little more of the surreal nature of symbolic dreams could be explored. So much potential, but only some is used. As it is, this is a chase movie with a unique concept. Neat, but imperfect.

Easily Enjoyable

People like to say how Inception is just a heist movie, and they'd be right; it's a heist movie. Well, sort of. A heist-in-reverse movie. But for some reason they then say that this makes it a "bad" movie. Why does being a heist movie make it bad? It may have had a basic premise that's been used before, but it was executed well and in a setting that I, at least, haven't seen before. It had an amazing plot and good characters, and I found the whole thing thrilling and exciting. This movie isn't for everybody, I don't think. The beginning is slow, so if you don't like something that needs a lot of setup before it gets going, then I wouldn't recommend it. But if you find the set-up just as interesting as the action, I'd say, go for it! The biggest reason why I think people don't like this movie is hype backlash, though. It's not that the beginning is particularly boring, and it's not that the movie is tame, tried, or weak, but when people started hearing about the movie and decided that they were going to see it, after a while the raving reviews built the movie to be something more than what it was. The movie *is* a heist movie, albeit uniquely done, but when people say "It's about going into someone's dreams and planting memories and then crazy stuff happens and then the end is great and it's so good!", it's a brief and succinct summary that doesn't do the movie justice, and at the same time makes the movie out to be something it's not: the movie is about a lot more than just planting memories into someone's head, but the movie also isn't an action-packed thrill ride of insane proportions. It's a lot of things at once, so the only way to be able to tell people who haven't seen the movie about the movie without spoiling it will either leave them disappointed or send them into a movie they may one day look back on and enjoy but was nothing like what they were expecting. So while I disagree that Inception wasn't a good movie, or a smart movie, or a movie about dreams, and while I do think it is fun and enjoyable, the thing viewers have to remember is that when they go in to see it, put aside all the reviews you've heard and watch it like you have no clue what it's going to be about; you'll find you get more out of it that way.

Maze movie

Inception is much more intelligent than an action movie needs to be and deserves all credit for that, but unlike what it claims it is hardly a movie about dreams. The entire reason dreams are fun and hard to capture is that they're organic near-nonsense from the mind of the dreamer, but in Inception the dreams are a gigantic world crafted by an architect, or just memory. It kinda looks like what would happen if you asked Escher to direct an action movie. There are tons of rules for the people that invaded the dreamer's mind and a dream within a dream within a dream.

It's well-spread that Nolan spent ten years on the screenplay, and that is what it feels like: Ten years of thoughts and construction being poured down on you. There are a lot of nice concepts put into Inception that are nice to find and it is a well-constructed movie. If Memento was a puzzle then Inception is a puzzle of a maze.

This is both a strength and a weakness: The movie seems to want you to take notes, see how much is in it and figure it out, rather than take a dive into the human mind. We do get some of that with Cobb's personal tragedy, but most characters get just enough personality to be distinguishable. (Ariadne in particular, since her main characteristic is that she is impolitely curious about Cobb.) This combined with the movies length made it a very tiring sit.

My judgement would be that Inception is an intelligent, rational action movie with a reasonably creative effect use and that it should be appreciated as such, but that you can skip it if that description doesn't sound appealing to you. It's not as renewing as some people might tell you, you can watch Paprika and Memento to see similar themes handled better.

Great Action Caper; Disappointingly Straightforward

Inception made me feel a bit cheated. Which is unfortunate, because it's actually quite a good film. A great film, even. However, it is a film that goes in a profoundly unexpected direction by, ironically, not going in an unexpected direction.

The premise of the film is not entirely new, though it's not old hat either: the heroes are capable of entering the dreams of others to mess with their minds, so they get paid to go do just that. The theme of entering the dreams of another in order to screw with their minds has been done before by Paprika, Nightmare On Elm Street, Changeling: The Lost, and probably a few others I can't think of at the moment. It was the use of this narrative device that drew me to the film, in fact. I always loved the mind-bending nature of the idea, and after his work with Shutter Island (which is my favorite Leo film), I walked into the theater with the hopeful expectation that the film would give my brain some delicious, twisty Mind Screw to chew on.

What I got was a straightforward caper film. A very good caper film. The acting is amazing on all counts (Leo is a tour de force as usual, but I especially liked Arthur, who was a walking Crowning Moment Of Funny), the plan is satisfyingly Gordian, the writing is tight and moving. Yet I still felt disappointed at just how simple the metaphysical landscape of the plot is. With the exception for the movie's first sequence, you are rarely asked to reevaluate what you have seen, and when you are, it is no more than a simple "oh, so the last couple shots might have been All Just A Dream". The structure of the dream world is too neat and one-dimensional, making it all too easily followed. I know it's weird to bitch about a movie for not being incomprehensible enough, but the Mind Screw is half the fun, dammit!

All in all, a great action caper. Just don't go in expecting crazy Mind Screw dreamscape shenanigans, because while they got the "crazy dreamscape" down pat, they left out the Mind Screw.

Your Mind is the Scene of the Crime

Inception exemplifies the thinking manís blockbuster, and it is very rare that filmmakers of tentpole summer fare treat their audiences like geniuses. After scores of films that are so painfully dumbed-down, it doesnít hurt to watch a brain cell-jolting flick like this one once in a while.

Inception operates on its visuals: the notion that anything is possible within the world of the dream allowed production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas to go wild. The film includes such scenes as an entire city folding in on itself, a freight train running through a city, an assault on a fortress that wouldnít be out of place in a Bond movie and a desolate, abandoned dream city filled with crumbling buildings. One of the many great sequences in the film is a zero-gravity fight scene performed by Gordon-Levitt along the corridors of a hotel. Even for audiences jaded by the proliferation of ďwire-fuĒ since the Matrix films, itís exciting.

Inceptionís greatest asset however is arguably its emotional core that functions like a rope guiding the viewer through the labyrinth of story. Leonardo DiCaprio has carved a career out of playing emotionally-complex characters, Cobb indeed brings to mind DiCaprioís recent performance in Shutter Island. Cotillard is also commendable in that itís never easy to play a character who exists only as a figment of another characterís imagination, and Cotillard does this hauntingly well.

The rest of the cast, too, is an iron-clad ensemble. There is literally not one weak link, everybody is perfectly cast. Gordon-Levitt especially seems to be emerging as a bona fide movie star, after making a name for himself in smaller character films. Watanabe manages to be dignified yet possess a misleading sinister streak as the employer and money man.

Tom Hardy is a hoot as the comic relief who is actually really useful. My favourite however (it could be just that Iím a 17-year-old male) is the lovely Ellen Page, who has no problems portraying the youngest yet deepest character in the film. My only complaint with regards to the cast is that Michael Caine, as Cobbís mentor and father-in-law, is woefully underused.

If youíre tired of being insulted by blockbusters that throw money at the screen and hope it sticks, then treat yourself to one of the best cinematic uses of money ever. Thereís no shortage of spectacle or intelligence here.

My favorite movie of the year

This is a great movie. It is a heist film, with lots of action scenes, fights, etc. However, the setting allows them to do things in new and interesting ways. The effects are amazing, especially the hallway fight. The plot is a little deeper than a typical action film. There is some Fridge Logic, but it is easy to suspend disbelief.

The only real flaw is the ending, which feels like a cheap and predictable gimmick. Overall though, I'd definitely recommend it.

Missed Opportunities

Really, Inception is not a bad film. In fact, it's quite a good film. The problem is, in true NeverTrustATrailer style, it is not not what is promises itself to be.

The film is a pulse pounding, heart racing thrill ride whereupon Dom Cobb (Leonardo di'Caprio) must lead a band of thieves to pull off the ultimate heist: placing rather than taking something. Now, due to the nature of exposition in this film, it's very well put down that MagicAIsMagicA and therefore the general {{Mind Screw]] the story creates is the good kind rather than the SoBadItsHorrible kind. Inserting yourself into another person's dream is done through a mysterious intravenous briefcase that, provided you are aware that you are attached to it, allows you to walk lucidly walk around the Dream World. It is through this that the film's plot, to subtly place an idea rather than steal a memory, is conducted.

Now, the trailers very vividly demonstrate what you can do in the Dream World. Ariadne (Ellen Page) folds her world in half, bisecting Paris as if it's totally normal for the roads to be in the sky. Dom Cobb washes ashore of a collapsing city supposedly illustrating a warped mind. This is pure fascination for the astute mind! It is demonstrated that, within the Dream World, those who are not aware of the dream state do not perceive the various warps of space nor time and that the geography of M.C. Escher fits right in. Finally it is demonstrated that it is possible to convince the unaware that you can take the form and voice of another person!

The ability to manipulate the very nature of the world without The Mark noticing seems to be the recipe for Criminal Team's wet dream! But, in favour of extravagant gun fights and Daytime TV style drama, they throw all of this built up potential away.

And this is where Inception fails. Christopher Nolan had the opportunity for a film that would take Ocean's 11's scope and combine it with Momento's Depth. A heist pulled by Dom Cobb's crew that would plunge The Mark into an intricate Long Game within his own mind. Convince The Mark, through subtle conversations, time lapses, and full out Mind Screw that dissolving his father's company (the idea they want to plant in The Mark's mind) is his own idea.

But they threw that all away... a waste.

Turns out it was all a dream...

Don't worry, that isn't a spoiler. It's Inception's premise. At the heart of it, Inception is a heist movie, complete with all the genre entails (colourful characters, car chases, elaborate schemes etc.). It is easy to lose sight of this fact though when the cerebral, Russian Doll World settings start to stack.

Inception tells the story of Cobb (Di Caprio), a fugitive father who wishes to see his kids again. Luckily his talents as a kind of futuristic cat-burglar who robs information from people's dreams brings him to the attention of an influencial businessman. He offers him the chance to see his kids again if he does one last heist.

The settings are imaginative and spectacular, and the action is sufficiently frantic despite not resorting to that annoying Shaky Cam effect used in most action movies these days. One scene stands out in particular is a bizarre fist fight that takes place in a gravity defying hotel corridor.

In terms of performances and characterisation, De Caprio's performance is convincing, despite his character having a sort of "creepy uncle" vibe whilst around Ellen Page. Speaking of Page, she got a fairly raw deal out of all of this. Her character's sole purpose is to have stuff explained to her (and the audience), and she has absolutely no personality or development beyond that. In fact, the focus is entirely on Cobb and the heist itself. Its unfortunate, but at least it prevents the movie from feeling too long (a typical criticism regarding Nolan's films). The most enjoyable performance to watch however, was that of Marion Cotillard. She plays as a wild-card character who threatens to throw a spanner into the works of the operation. All at once she is sexy, tragic, charming and often downright creepy.

Inception is an excellent action movie, and it won't be long before I find mysefl heading back into the cinema to see it again.