July 19, 2010

Summer Movie Smackdown: Inception

Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Ellen Page, Marion Cotillard, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Dileep Rao, Cillian Murphy

Plot? - Leonardo DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, a man with some serious psychological baggage who specializes in getting inside a person's mind and taking care of business, aka stealing ideas. Basically he "inhabits the world of the dream" and gets what he wants. "Inception" tells the story of what happens when him and his team go inside someone's mind to plant an idea, instead of take it, and let's just say planting an idea is way harder and headier then taking one.

Reminds You Of?  -  "The Matrix". Both films feature characters who lie down and get plugged into a machine which takes them to another world. In both those worlds the laws of physics are reality are malleable. And finally both contain mind bending action scenes. But after that, this film doesn't really remind of much, because it's very very original. It creates a new world of dreams with new rules, that is a rush to experience. You can literally feel the the creativity of Christopher Nolan pulsating in every frame of the movie.

Ass Kicking Factor (AKF) - "Inception" scores major points because it wraps it's car crashes, snowmobile chases, and explosions in a "thinking persons" wrapping paper. See the conversation below

Bromaniac Bro: When that dude was blowing up snowmobiles and racking up headshots and melee kills, that shit was sweet

Philopshy Professor Kushing: My Thomas, the projections of the protagonists un-contrabble psyche in the harsh white artic climate certainly are spectacular.

Oh Shit Moments (OSM) - The last part of the movie is one giant oh shit moment and that's all I'm saying about that.

Memorable Dialogue  - I can't recall any dialogue. This isn't necessarily a problem it just means that most of the dialogue is explaining exactly what is going on in the complex realities of the dream state

MOM Factor - Nothing makes Mom's happy like having their children see "intelligent movies" and "Inception" manages to be both an intelligent movie and action heavy opus. So we have our first MOM factor film since Toy Story 3.

TPG Truth Drop - Something was missing. Throughout the course of the weekend, I've spoken to friends about the film, and everyone is agreement, it was spectacular but not a knock out punch. Rather than being a 10, it was merely an 8.5. In fact I seem to enjoy the film more now that I'm out the of theatre and can talk about it with people. The movie is a starting point for amazing conversations, and for me, learning about different people's interpretations has been more enjoyable than actually watching the film.

In Andrew O' Hehir's review of the film on Salon.com, he mentions that the film  has "no soul, no sex and almost no joy," and I agree with him ( I don't agree with his overall assessment that the film is a mess). The film was a summer blockbuster that seemed to hate me for wanting to eat popcorn and smile. In fact no one in the film seems to be having a good time. Even the bleak "Dark Knight" manages to squeeze in some laughs and smiles. In one scene Joseph Gordon Levitt sneaks a kiss, and the film loosens up for a moment, but then we're right back in the super intense story that demands our attention. I wish the film had scenes like that. Not all of our dreams are so grim.

Nolan is a genius, "Inception" is a masterpiece of acting, direction, production design, sound, score, editing and storytelling, yet it lacks a soul. Maybe this is because the love story didn't connect with me or I wanted more jokes, but in general , the film lacks a message. If this film truly wants to be the game changer than people hoped it needs to tell us something more about the human mind than this: it rains, people die, and it's a lot like a video game.

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