Jul 19, 2010

The True Blue "Inception" Movie Review

Picture, if you will, driving down a city street in the rain. Gun fire flies at you from a nearby car. Out of nowhere, a train appears and pummels everything in it's path. Does this sound like a believable, or even entertaining scenario?


Many of you could read that line all you want, but the plausibility seems to escape logic. However, after sitting through Inception, you will finally have seen the one movie that this logic works in. In fact, it's small things like these that help make director Christopher Nolan's latest effort a thrilling ride through sub-conscious without ever fooling the audience's intelligence. There's trains, rotating buildings, and ever-changing streets. Yet somehow, for the most part, the realism keeps it from feeling trite.
The story is simple: Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) goes on a mission to implant theories into a billionaire's head (Cillian Murphy) using a team that specializes in delving into dreams. Of course, not everything appears to be that simple. There are dreams within dreams and a dead wife (Marion Cotillard) to hinder the process. There are probably question marks flying already, but what makes this effort phenomenal is not so much that the effects and sets are cutting edge, but that it's believable and easy to follow, yet by the end, you'll need a manual to figure out what happened.
It's an amazing achievement to capture the audience and entertain them while making them think hard. I haven't got any answers, but maybe it's the simplest thing. Maybe Nolan tricked the audience with one of his most ambitiously complex movies since Memento. However, he never once dumbs it down, even when explaining the processes and occurrences through Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, new king of suits) and Ariadne (the amazing Ellen Page).
The narrative is strong, yet can be packed with lies and truths, leaving the audience to really determine what's real and what's a dream. It also works as a character study on Cobb, with DiCaprio two-for-two with mind-bending thrillers for the year (other is Shutter Island).
You can argue that there are plot holes. Others will say "what plot holes?" Let's be honest, if there's anything missing, it's hard to tell because what Nolan has made is a perfect sci-fi noir, where the audience is the detective and the intimate moments hide the answers. It's an impressive accomplishment in a year when the best rated movie is a sequel (Toy Story 3), highest grossing is a remake Alice in Wonderland, and we still have a rerelease of Avatar to look forward to along with reboots, remakes, and repulsion.
It's tough to be original in this modern market, but Nolan has shown everyone once again how to do it. With a script that has been edited over eight years, the care can be seen into every little detail. Small points of dialogue unlock big clues. Even the casting decisions were ingenious and features 6 academy award nominees/winners that bring their A-game and show blockbusters how it's done.
Sure James Cameron took 12 years for Avatar and the effects to catch up, but in that time, it felt like he was lacking a solid dialogue in the script, which helped it suffer along with pointless, extended battles. In Inception, you want more of the zero gravity and effects, but what's genius is, Nolan knows where to stop to tease the audience and keep the story from feeling bloated.
Sure M. Night Shyamalan adapted the script to The Last Airbender, but his casting was hounded, initially creating a taboo. Inception didn't really worry about exploiting this and instead let the actors, from French (Cotillard), Canadian (Page), Asian (Ken Watanabe), and others, do their work.

So, what has Inception taught us about movies? It has taught us to care about quality as well as quantity. Even on a big budget with effects, there needs to be realism and trust in the characters. There needs to be a solid base and some complexity to keep the desire going for two and a half hours.
And that is how Nolan manages to be one of the most successful working directors today. His TLC has saved Batman from the plagued Joel Schumaker days and convinced us that Robin Williams is a legitimate dramatic actor. He doesn't rush to get everything out on time and instead fine tunes details until we're left wanting more.

Don't believe me?
Go to the nearest... well, anywhere is fine, and just begin talking Inception or Batman 3. I guarantee you there will be someone there interested in talking to you.

And in the end, isn't that the goal of movies?

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