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July 27, 2010

Review: Inception

I was delayed in seeing "Inception" because of a week-long trip to the beach, but I assure you, it was worth the wait. As I waited for the film to start, I typically made a comment about each movie trailer that preceded it. I had to explain to my companion that two films, "Tron: Legacy" and "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps," were both sequels to movies made in the '80s. Now I have not seen either original installment, therefor I can't say whether or not these sequels should be made. However, I think it's fair to say that most of what we've seen in this busy summer movie season, and what we can see in the near future, are remakes and sequels to movies that either weren't that great in the first place, or were great but shouldn't be remade. The reason behind most of this is money, and that's a fact. Yet I feel confident in saying that there are still actors and filmmakers who care, at least as much as they're able to, about making art. Christopher Nolan's "Inception" is the proof of this.

Solidifying himself as a filmmaker you can bet on, Nolan has showed his ability to make thought-provoking, well acted and enjoyable films over the years. These include "Memento," "The Prestige," "Batman Begins" and, of course, "The Dark Knight." Now you might have heard about "Inception" and how confusing and strange it is, or how you need to see it a second time. I disagree. Not that I wouldn't see it a second time, because it was a fantastic film, but I don't think it was as confusing as it's being made out to be. I actually kept waiting for what was supposed to be the confusing part. I made sure to pay strong attention, as to not miss anything. In fact, that's the best advice I would give someone. Just pay attention. It's not that hard.

So Leonardo DiCaprio (duh, you know how he is) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt ("10 Things I Hate About You," "(500) Days of Summer") professionally go into people's dreams and steal information they keep hidden. In this alternate present/near future, people can force a state of dreaming they can stay in as long as they want. It is also possible to link your dreams together with another and exist inside them. If you die in a dream, you simply wake up. Extraction, as it's called, is what Cobb (DiCaprio) and Arthur (Gordon-Levitt) do as a service to high-paying individuals, and they're not the only ones. Those who can afford it even become trained to resist such techniques. The idea is pushed further when people, like these "thieves" are able to create a dream inside of a dream, and so on. These have been referred to as different levels of the dream. A powerful man named Saito (Ken Watanabe; "The Last Samurai," "Batman Begins") employs them to do something a bit different. He challenges them to implant an idea in someone's mind through their dreams, which is referred to as "inception." He offers Cobb the chance to return home to the U.S. to see his children, as he is wanted for criminal charges. Cobb and Arthur assemble a team that offers the same skills they do, and a newcomer to the trade named Ariadne (EllenPage; "Hard Candy," "Juno"), who sees into Cobb's troubles with his dreams, his subconscious and the way he deals with his deceased wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard, "La vie en Rose," "Public Enemies"). As the team enters the mind of business empire heir Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy; "28 Days Later," "Batman Begins"), they plan an elaborate scheme that is complicated by Fischer's traning against the process and Cobb's subconscious struggles that are plagued by his past.
So if you're lost, just take a deep breath. The plot really isn't that hard to follow if you pay attention to how they explain the process, the plan and what is going on. Visually, "Inception" is stunning, and that come as no surprise given Nolan's reputation. The fact that he wrote the script himself probably helped the way it looks and feels, as this journey into the mind came directly from his. You couldn't ask for a better cast, and Nolan knew that, as he is the type of director who likes to work with familiar faces, even though the most familiar were not the stars like DiCaprio, Gordon-Levitt or Page. Several Oscar-nominees (and one winner in Cotillard) were on-board, and although I can't say any performances were necessarily Oscar-quality (not that they were bad, just not what the Academy looks for, and I expected for Michael Caine, but oh well), I could see Nolan earning a second nomination for Best Director (previously nominated for "Memento") and I wouldn't be surprised by a Best Original Screenplay nomination or several for technical achievements like editing and visual effects. The musical score by Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer really drives the action of the film and bizarre landscape of the scenes as well.

"Inception" is a refreshing film in what has been a sort of slumping summer. As far as all the connotations it's been gaining about theories, confusion and ambiguity, there really isn't much. Take a moment to wrap your head around the idea of entering dreams and understand the rules to the process that are explained in the film. The ending of the film has been argued a bit, as it is a little ambiguous, but really it's just open to interpretation. Do yourself a favor and enjoy "Inception." Remember, Christopher Nolan isn't trying to confuse you or make you feel stupid, he's just challenging your mind. So take the challenge.

"Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange."



  1. God, this movie had so many hot people in it.

  2. I actually didn't know that Nolan wrote the script too... that's pretty impressive. I really loved Inception.... I was dead tired when we watched it but somehow I made it through, it kept my eyes open!