30 Second Review: Inception

30 Second Review:  Inception
Directed by Christopher Nolan, released July 16, 2010

Absolutely everyone I had read or talked to who has seen Christopher Nolan’s newest release, Inception, has said very good things about it.  Some have raved, some have spoken in awe, others simply state that it is one of the best movies they have seen in a long time.

They’re right.

To try to explain what happens in Inception in a short review would not only be impossible, it would be irresponsible.  The best part of this movie is to watch it unfold, and enjoy being engaged not only through your senses, but also through your mind. To stop and plot it, or to examine its complexity during the viewing would denigrate the experience – all that can come later, over coffee or drinks.  Suffice it to say (for those 2 or 3 of you who have not yet heard), the movie is about the invasion of dreams, specifically how a team of highly trained thieves can manipulate dreams of others in order to unlock valuable (and profitable) secrets.  There’s a lot more to it, though – a heckuva lot more.

There is plenty of action in this movie, and a lot of slick camera work and amazing effects.  But what really impressed me is that the action, effects and performance were matched by depth of idea.  The ideas that Nolan used in this project were not easy to comprehend as well as difficult to portray, but he allowed for both with apparent ease, straddling the scientific and the ethereal while throwing in a good dose of “you know not what you do” tension into the mix.  But never did the action or the effects trump the story, or even more specifically, the human element of the story.   And that’s saying a lot, in that some of the effects were spectacular, as one would expect in a movie about dreamscapes.

The acting is also above par, across the board.  I am not a big fan of Leonardo DiCaprio, but easily admit that he does a masterful job in bringing the human depth to this movie.  Like a modern Humphrey Bogart, he portrays a tortured soul but does not dwell in his misery.  His team is likewise efficient and professional, but not above a bit of one-upmanship and good natured needling.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt is surprisingly good playing against type as DiCaprio’s heavy right hand and partner.  Tom Hardy and Dileep Rao are solid support, each with their own quirk and humor.  The only weak point for me was Ellen Page as “the architect”.  She did well to push the pathos button without injecting any inappropriate sexual tension, but she seemed a bit young (and too currently popular) to really pull off the role; I never forgot that I was watching Ellen Page on the screen (unlike Michael Caine, who is always able to lose us in his roles).

Some folks have dinged this movie just a bit because it is so complex.  While I don’t agree, I will admit that there are some plot holes that might be hard to swallow were not the action fast enough and atmosphere believable enough to allow the viewer to dwell on them – but there simply is not time.  And I was a bit dismayed to see that age-old action convention of thugs who can’t hit a barn door and heroes that can’t miss even while downhill skiing.  (I guess, why not – it is a dream afterall.)

For these reasons, I wouldn’t call Inception my favorite movie of the year – but it’s pretty high up on the satisfaction scale.  I would urge anyone to see it (it’s not too intense for kids – very little blood and no gore, too, yay! – but it may be too complex for younger ones to follow, so take the teens but keep the single digits at home).  And if anyone wants to see it a second time, let me know, I’d love to go see it again.  I think when I do, I’ll most likely see all sorts of great things that I missed the first time around… but even if I don’t, it still would be worth another round.

I’d give it a A- and four solid silver stars.  Definitely, go see it, and before it leaves the theatres.  It will do ok on the small screen, but you’ll want to see it larger than life, first.

~ by arcticwren on August 6, 2010.

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