2010 cerebral action movie

Rating: 15/20 (Jen: 13/20)

Plot: Loosely based on Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, this involves Leonardo Dicaprio busting into people's dreams to steal their ideas. It's a confusing job, but somebody's got to do it. The work's cost him. His wife's dead, and for various reasons, he can't return to the United States and be with his children. An Asian guy offers him a job, but instead of the extraction he's used to performing, he's given the task of planting an idea in a guy's brain. That's called inception. He gathers together a team and meticulously plans this reverse heist. It won't be easy, and there will be a lot of explosions.

While watching this movie, I fell asleep and had my own tri-level dream. I don't remember my dream details often, but I know this one had something to do with trying to warn a dog that my friend Don's hot older sister who liked The Doors had put dynamite under his bowl. Then Lionel Richie broke into my dream and sang that "I had a dream; I had an awesome dream" song, but I couldn't pay attention to lyrics because his pants were too bright. Suddenly, I'm shooting at gypsies. Blam blam blam blam! Explosion! It was a dream within a dream within a dream within a dream within a dream within Christopher Nolan's jism. And Shooby Leboof (he's in all of my dreams) taps me on the shoulder and says that we've only got thirteen third level dream days remaining before we'll have to clean up dog guts from the first level dream. I had enough of that sort of thing on my honeymoon, so Shooby and I walk arm in arm so that we can push my cousin off a ladder so that he can pop balloons in close proximity to our faces. When I woke up, Roger Ebert was standing by my bed (this is not unusual lately) calling me a genius. And he knew the lyrics to that Lionel Richie song, but he couldn't sing them.

The general idea behind this movie is pretty cool, and the special effects are dazzling. But all that razzle-dazzle is really just hiding the fact that this is a big, dumb action movie covered in layers and layers of intellectual mumbo-jumbo. It's a simple story packed in multicolored packing peanuts, surrounded by shimmering baubles, and scrambled by the world's most expensive spatula. It's not nearly as masturbatory as the worst parts of the Matrix movies, but it has more than a little bit in common with them. After the intriguing premise and the rules of the movie unfold with Dicarprio explaining things to that girl from Juno, you get a solid hour and fifteen minutes or so of car chases, shoot 'em ups, and those aforementioned 'splosions. I didn't just have a headache because I already developed a headache from trying to think too much. It was a double headache, a headache that folded over on top of itself like the city in that dream. Boredom set in. I give credit to Nolan for coming up with a very original idea and for allowing the story to unfold in an interesting way. The performances are fine, maybe better than you'd expect from a movie with more special effects than non-special ones. It's really a pretty good movie, but it could have been a whole lot shorter. I had heard that the ending is ambiguous, but it seemed self explanatory to me. I think the fact that I don't really care to think about it all that much shows my true feelings about Inception.


l@rstonovich said...

yeah, i rarely think movies are too long unless I straight up don't like them.. but the action in this bored to tears... all the fast editing etc. could have been a great movie with the concepts but it ain't

cory said...

I think if you saw this in a theatre you would have given it a 36. The idea was novel and complex. The action scenes were exciting and well executed (some flat out amazing). There was a lot of emotional nuance within a very complicated brain-twister. Nolan should be credited with creating something that was both brilliant popcorn entertainment, but also something that really challenges the audience to think, compared to most genre films that make money underestimating the audience's intelligence. This was one of the best directing jobs I have seen in the last decade and it blows me away that he didn't get a director nom. An 18, and do you think he got out, or not?

Shane said...

That's the thing I was confused about, Cory...I assumed he got out and didn't really care to think about things any deeper. I got tired of trying to keep track of Leo's totem or his wife's totem or whatever.

What's supposed to make me question whether or not he got out? What'd I miss?

cory said...

He is still in. The kids are the same age and in the same pose to start, and also the mark was trained in this stuff. Someone doing this to him would be nearby. He would not just smile at the others in first class. He would suspect them or some of them of trying to break into his mind.

Barry said...

I did not like this movie as much as I wanted to. The whole reason is, to me Nolan completely copped out. He continually asks the audience to answer questions, but never does so himself.

By the way, the entire film, from beginning to end, is a product of the Dicaprio characters imagination. He is essentially just dreaming it all. Its a Dallas episode, and we were just waiting for Michael Caine in the shower at the end. was great visuals, but lazy screenwriting. Anyone can ask questions, its the great films that make an effort to answer them. A 14 from me.

cory said...

It's like "Up" meets "A Serious Man" arguments. There is nothing in the film that points to the whole thing being in his head. If you wanted to go that route, you could say that about every single movie ever made. For that matter, you could say it about real life. Maybe you are the only real person and everything and everyone else is just a prop in God's test for you.

I don't think Nolan needs to be explicit. It would take away one of the film's greatest stregths...the puzzle. The answer is there if you want to look for it. Calling a film lazy that is obviously so intricately constructed is unfair. You might not agree with Nolan's choices, but there was more care with the story and visuals in "Inception" than with any non-Pixar film of the recent past. He is one of the most talented filmmaker's working and this film has been created over several years time. "Inception" gets an 18 from me partly because it tries so hard to challenge and entertain.

Shane said...

If the whole thing's a dream, I'm dropping it a few more points.

I'm closer to Barry/Larry/Jen territory than Cory's 18. I wouldn't say it's lazy film making at all. And I give Nolan bonus points for at least doing something new.

Sort of. My problem (and this is my problem with every Nolan movie) is that there's really nothing special beneath all the big budget effects and trickery. It's a well done action movie. Take away the magic act, and there's just not that much there. So much of this movie was made up of action scenes piled on action scenes that it made me care about the characters a lot less than I should have.

I still don't understand why he was still in the dream or, if Barry's right, why the whole thing was a dream. And the main problem is that I'm not sure I care. There are some movies I really enjoy watching that I don't fully grasp and will watch again to piece everything together. I really don't have much desire to watch this again any time soon. As I said...a well done action movie. I just don't think it's the masterpiece everybody seems to think it is.

And I'll say the same thing about 'The Dark Knight' and 'Memento,' the latter which I don't think would survive without the gimmick.

Barry said...

Michael Caine just happens to show up at the airport to pick up Leonardo Dicaprio...Caine supposedly has the kids in Europe, but he shows up, out of nowhere, with no kids, in Los Angles, with no prior notice. That is why the whole thing is a dream. Dicaprio and company are able to travel without problems, (And seemingly at will) to far flung spots in the world.

It is intricately intricately constructed that Nolan was too scared to give an answer to anything. He could not risk the house of cards he built being examined in any logical way. There are no transitions in the no time are we shown anything that could rightly be called REALITY. So what parts are real in this? Thats the question I have....what segments of the movie are clearly and completely meant to be real?

The whole movie we are told that if you die in the dream world, you end up in limbo......yet plenty of people die, and apparently emerge whole in the real world. Dicaprio included...and Watnabe.

The movie ended on a cheap trick...there was no conclusion there, because Nolan thought that was deeper than having any real explanation. Thats where that lazy thing I get into comes in.

cory said...

As I mentioned, I think Leo is still "in", so the Caine thing is another reason that proves that point(I had told that to Kelly, but was keeping my list of reasons short). When the characters fall in one level, it kicks them up to the next one closer to the real world. There is nothing that gets them out except death (at the first level) or when the drug wears off, so reason no.4 they never got out is they couldn't (which is also why it is so sudden and unexplained). Watanabe is the only one that "dies", and because he is so deep, he is trapped.

If you can buy into the whole premise (which is the point of watching a movie), then the real world is clearly defined...except for the intentionally ambiguous ending. I have no problem with these guys traveling around in countries where they are not wanted men. Doing this kind of thing would certainly be lucrative.

This is an action flick plus sci-fi thrown in. As action eye candy it works. There are 50 action films out there that I am sure would get a higher grade than 14 that I could dismantle with ease. For what it is, "Inception" is a much better film than what passes for good popcorn entertainment. If Nolan had made it clearer, then I wouldn't be here doing a Barry Bacon impersonation (inside joke). He knew EXACTLY what he was doing, and he did it well.

Shayla said...

I just thought it was neat that they actually used legit sleep study things in their film, such as the "kicks." I don't know about you but this movie felt like the matrix since they were in a different world, yet they weren' dig? By the way I watched a lot of Jan Svankmajer short films and I am in love with this style. Have you ever seen Fantastic Mr. Fox? It is a new-ish stop motion animation film and it has that same creepy aspect to the animation.

Shane said...

I was reminded of 'The Matrix' as I watched this, but not in a good way. I'm not sure I even like the first Matrix movie anymore. I haven't seen it since the two sequels. While I kind of liked the action scenes in the second one (not enough to like the movie), that third movie kind of made me hate the entire franchise.

I'm glad you checked Svankmajer out, liked him, and let me know! I thought you'd like him. What ones have you seen?

I have seen 'The Fantastic Mr. Fox' ( liked it a lot. Have you seen 'Mary and Max'? How about the French 'A Town Called Panic'? I'm kind of a sucker for this kind of animation...