Friday, August 22, 2014

1PanelReview Inception

A movie apparently so complicated, the characters spend the entire story trying to explain the audience everything that is going on the screen.

What it is: Inception 

Which is: An action/scifi/thriller/heist movie
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Year: 2010

Inception is a 2010 science-fiction/heist movie/thriller written, produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan. It stars a huge ensemble cast of Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ken Watanabe, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Michael Caine and many more. It's the story of a bunch of "dream thieves" who are tasked by a client to implement an idea in the mind of a business rival. To do so they use a scifi-ysh machine that allows them to enter someone else's mind and navigate through their dreams. The titular "inception" enters in play as they are forced to dig deeper inside a dream inside a dream inside a dream inside... well, you get the idea! The movie was a huge success at the time, which kinda helped open the door to more original films once again, the downside being that every single movie trailer features annoying repetitive "Inception horns" nowadays...

What's Good about it: When all things are said and done, Inception is a very brilliant, very smart ingenuous thriller. Despite being somewhat based on such a simple concept - entering people's dreams - it allows a very fun, unique and fresh take on the whole "heist movies" genre.
Christopher Nolan is a very talented film director who, despite being "typecasted" as the guy who made those Dark Knight films, can really make very intriguing, unique and captivating thrillers. He gets to play here with some of the themes that helped launch his career in the first place.
Inception is actually a story he originally wrote after Insomnia back in 2002,  before getting "trapped" in constant Batman films for Warner Bros., he used his break from the Bat-franchise to get this project back on track.  
I'm no Nolan hater, but also certainly not such a big fan of his films in general (cause, reasons!). Even so I have to recognize this is without a doubt one of his best films to date, and a very impressive cinema history milestone. It just feels like a very innovate project on film! 
It's a great looking film!
The film features what is no doubt one of the best musical scores composed in the entire body work of  Hans Zimmer's career. The man will no doubt try to recapture the magic here for the rest of his films...
The cast is pretty good too. Ken Watanabe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt both really get to shine in this film, unlike their usual minor roles in other productions.
Marion Cotillard. Only French-speaking people will get this, but man did she cine far in her career since her days in Taxi! Ha!
Finally Tom Hardy gets the most fun, more heist movie-like character in the entire film. 
Inception feels like a very convulsed over-complicated film... but is it really the case?
At first look Inception seems like a movie about exploring the limits between dreams and reality. Part-heist movie, part-film noir. But the movie really is an exercise about film-making... in a film! While most people love discussing theories about what Inception really is meant to be about, debating what part of the film is dream or not, the real meaning of Christopher Nolan's project is really much simpler. All in all, Inception is kind of a giant metaphor about the whole filmmaking experience. The entire "dream" team is really set to represent the roles of a crew on a movie set. Tom Hardy's character being the actor, who disappears beneath the "roles" he plays (the faces he take), we only get a few glimpses of his true self on mirrors here and there. Ellen Page's character is the screenwriter, who gets to design the story/dreams. Watanabe is the meddling studio executive who is paying for this whole operation. DiCaprio here plays the director (and he actually even sort of looks like Christopher Nolan himself if we would really check both next to each other!). Dileep Rao (Drag me to Hell) is the FX guy (who we kind of forget about during the film, but he really is the one that helps orchestrate the whole thing, and his most memorable scene even involves one of the best special effects of the entire movie, which generates other effects sequence through the various levels of inceptions). And finally Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character is the producer, the guy who knows how everything works and help turn this production into a reality, all his dialogues even consisting of expositions! It's a movie about making movies! We even get one location scout-scene when the characters get to explain the dream layout. Our protagonists have the same objective of a filmmaker, they want to change the view of their audience, the way someone thinks about the world. And they do so through their work. Focusing on establishing the rules of their movie/universe, which you can't never break.

What's Bad about it: Such a complicated means for such a simple objective, wouldn't you say?
In fact, the project originally started as a much smaller simpler film, before Nolan's "Batman phase". It was at first an horror film about dreams before becoming this huge monstrous big budget epic large-scale blockbuster. And I think that would have been just an effective film.
Inception is not without its flaws. For one it feels like an unnecessary-complicated film, at times.
Some characters or plot points are forgotten as quickly as they are brought in.
Case in point, I really think the role of Ellen Page goes mostly underused through the film, in my eyes.  
The ending leaving it open to interpretation is nice. The problem here is not with the movie itself, but the way people focus way too much trying to get a meaning from it. (And like I said above, all things considered the movie really isn't about what is dream or reality... I just wish it didn't end on that note...)
Because of the huge budget and demands from the studio to justify an IMAX release, I really think the action scenes get kinda overblown, as spectacular as they are.
I also really wish we'd have gotten other kinds of dreams. Does everything need to look so bland, normal and somewhat "generic"? I can't believe this is all Christopher Nolan dreams about apparently...? We don't get anything crazier or more scifi-ysh in nature? And the most "exotic" thing we get is a pretty lackluster lame ski trip through the mountain, in some kind of cliché secret headquarters you'd expect from the worst James Bond or xXx movies? 
The characters are also kinda bland, since they're only really tools for the above metaphors. 
Spending the entire film explaining the rules of inceptions. Kind of falling to the trap of big budget films that need to dumb down stuff for the mainstream audience, we could have gotten just as much in less dialogues. While I'm sure this would have worked better in a smaller independent film, Nolan basically had to spoon feed much of the concept to audience here.
Also, the whole maze idea never really goes anywhere, despite the hype. It never gets mentioned anymore. The Shining is a much better example of seamlessly incorporating a maze into the settings and the story.
The "limbo" really doesn't make much sense, compared to the rest of what is happening in the entire film. Less so than the rest of the more far-fetched scifi. If anything, the rules we are exposed to the entire film previously, the limbo just seems to simply throw away everything, since this limbo-state appears interconnected and people able to live on there outside people's mind/dreams...? It seems to be a place where one can live off over and over, for centuries, until the dream-state wears off (or someone gets shot). Yet one can spend ages there, and then simply come back through the previous dream-layers at the beginning, and instead of getting less and less stable it still retains a much better sense of reality? Or something. It just felt off how our main character and Watanabe didn't experience a similar experience in there. At all.

Overall: All in all, Inception is a very fine piece of art.

Easily Christopher Nolan's masterpiece.

A multi-layered story, very complex and deep through the human mind.

Aside from the whole film-making process metaphor, it also is perhaps not the best example of the genre, but certainly one of the better attempts at exploring dreams on film nowadays.

If you like the theme, I would certainly recommend checking out Satoshi Kon's film Paprika (2006), animated by Madhouse. Which is basically the same overall concept, but Paprika is a lot more unique and handles a better sense of the dream state through the film by simply allowing the imagery to go crazy. Now that's what I call exploring dreams and reality!

And on a similar subject, the very underrated Dark City is perhaps a much better experience, despite an ending just as clunky. It fully embraces the noir genre and also plays with crazier visuals (despite lacking a city-bending dream). It has just as good production values in my eyes, without flashy shiny over-reliance of CGi. But both films are great in their respective genres.

All in all,
I give it: 2.5 / 3 Quacks!
[How does my Rating System work?]

No comments:

Post a Comment