Thursday, October 14, 2010

Review - Inception

OK, so I'm late to the party on this one (except for those who decided to "wait until video/netflix/redbox/etc). Inception was one of the hot titles of the summer. When I first saw the trailers, I was definitely intrigued and stoked to learn more. I'm not a huge fan of Leonardo DiCaprio's "acting" but I figured I could put up with him for a compelling story. Which is exactly what I did.

Naturally I don't want to spoil things for those who haven't seen the film. As an overview of the things you can learn from the previews, this movie is set in a world where dreams can be actively manipulated and shared. They don't go much into the science of how it works, but basically, a dreamer is plugged into a device along with other dreamers. One person is the primary dreamer and everybody else is navigating around the primary dreamer's subconscious. Interestingly, part of the science involves these external participants actually creating and manipulating the dream world of the primary dreamer.

So, for example, you've got dreamer A who is the main dreamer. External dreamers B, C, and D come in to share the dream. Somehow, the device allows one of the other dreamers (an architect) to actually create and manipulate the dream environment. So we're inside dreamer A's head…but the world of the dream is created by dreamer B. The added complexity comes with the "dream within a dream" scenario that DiCaprio and his team play on…so person A is dreaming a world created by dreamer B. Then, within that dream, they compel person A to go to sleep and dream in a world created by dreamer C…and so on. Very intriguing.

Anyway, the story involves using this "dream within a dream" model to induce something called Inception which is the idea of planting an idea deep enough within a person's subconscious that the person believes he/she is the one who came up with the idea and doesn't suspect any manipulation.

Overall, the concept and the general story are very intriguing. It's turned into an intense action film at times through some other interesting inventions such as "dream security" where high profile individuals actually "weaponize" their subconscious to fight against intruders. Furthermore, there's the danger that the deeper and deeper you go within the "dream within a dream" state, the greater the possibility of ending up in a "coma" and "living" in the dream world indefinitely.

Naturally there were a number of great twists and turns. The writer/director really played a lot with the "what is real" concept and kept the audience guessing at times. Fortunately, once we got into the heart of the story, he didn't play too much with this trope…otherwise it would've gotten kitschy and destroyed the intrigue.

I can definitely agree with others that this was the most thought provoking and engaging movie I saw this year. I've seen some people touting it as "movie of the year" and, while I'm not sure it deserves that much hype, I can say that it was a really good film. There were a couple of (from my perspective) inconsistencies in the writing…but given the intricate spiderweb of the concept and the plot, it would be difficult to plug all the holes and difficult as well to follow all the threads at first glance.

Speaking of threads, but not wanting to spoil things, I giggled a little at the very apt character naming of Ariadne. I possibly would have remembered her name from my ancient studies of Greek mythology. But since we were reading The Battle of the Labyrinth recently as a family, I had a much more current reminder of Ariadne's role in mythology….as the one who helped guide the mythical hero through the deadly labyrinth by use of her special string. As such, I expected Ariadne to play a similar type of role in the movie. To an extent, she did…but not as much as I had hoped. I felt like this was one place where the writer/director set up an intriguing plot element but left it unfulfilled. I could say more, but I don't want to spoil the story.

Overall, I really enjoyed the movie. The plot elements are very intriguing and led to a well crafted plot. I was able to ignore inconsistencies enough to get caught up in the high paced action and enjoy the story. The acting was done well…I was even able to ignore DiCaprio enough to be satisfied. I don't think this necessarily deserves "best picture" or anything, but I think it could get an award for "best screenplay" or some other "writer" award for the creativity and juggling of multiple complex threads. The scenery and cinematography was great as well and worthy of taking notice. There are a lot of very cool scenes, special effects, camera usage, etc.

I do recommend that you go see this film when you get the chance. It's a lot of fun. I had some people advise only seeing it when you're in a "thinky" mood…while it's definitely got thinky elements, I think you could still enjoy it without thinking too deeply.

4 out of 5 stars


Brian Miller said...

nice. thanks for pointing out the subtlty of the name...did not catch made it a fresh review

Farah B. said...

I loved this movie, like you said it's creative and full of intrigue and its screenplay is very original compared to other movies nowadays. Some of my friends didn't like it to the point of discouraging me from going but I'm so glad I went. :)

Phoenix said...

I loved, loved, loved this movie. So incredibly fragile and visually stunning. And I actually like Leo's acting so I thought the performances were first rate! (PS I did catch the meaning of Ariadne's name in the movie... but then, I'm obsessed with mythology so there you go.)

Okie said...

Thanks for the comments

@Brian - it was interesting and made me wonder what other subtleties might be there

@B - definitely more original than the "same old stuff" that keeps getting churned out. A refreshing breath of fresh air.

@Phoenix - I'm not entirely sure why I'm so anti-Leo. A lot of it for me is that he always seems just so smug that it gets annoying. I also sometimes feel like he has one gear that he shifts into and coasts through the when I see him in a film, I know what to expect from his character (emotionally/etc) before it starts.