Monday, 26 July 2010

Is all that we see or seem...

Inception 2010 US
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Screening now

I really don’t know where to begin with this one. If you’re reading this and you’ve been following me on Twitter you’ll know that I’ve been putting off writing this review since seeing the movie on Saturday. Why? Because I don’t want to annoy the bizarrely large number of people who actually liked this film.

I could warn you of possible spoilers which come up as I’m writing this but, to be honest, the opening title at the top of this page is a spoiler if you know your Edgar Allan Poe... and if you don’t know Edgar Allan Poe and you want to know a spoiler which, to be fair to me, is pretty obvious from the start of the movie, then don’t look to the right and down of this page where the rest of that verse is always prominently displayed near my user profile.

I’m not a big Christopher Nolan fan. The only movie I really enjoyed by him was the second of his Batman movies (The Dark Knight)... while nowhere near as dark or sophisticated as key issues of the Batman comics... it’s certainly the closest anyone’s come yet to capturing something close to Batman in a feature length film.

Another one of his I found entertaining but mostly dissapointing (every twist was telegraphed to you way before hand... sometimes over an hour beforehand) was The Prestige. In fact, I’m going to have to read the source novel on that one because I understand there’s an extra layer of revelation which didn't make it into the movie and maybe the exclusion of that last reveal is what could have given that movie some edge (still, it’s got David Bowie playing Tesla... so it’s not all bad).

Oh rats... you can tell I’m stalling here can’t you.

Ok. Let me give it to you straight. I don't have a clue why so many people liked Inception because, frankly, it was very much a dumbed down attempt at doing something which was probably ransacked from an old 50s sci-fi short story and would probably have best been served as a ten minute short... not a two and a half hour movie which, in the end, says “Hey! Make your mind up audience. Is he dreaming or isn’t he? You decide.” I knew he was going to truncate the last, all important shot of the movie like that... it’s similar to the serendipity moment Hal Hartley had in the editing room when he was working on Henry Fool and realised that by cuting a shot down early he could leave a completely ambiguous ending. In Inception’s case though... doesn’t work if you can see it coming. To be fair to Nolan though, he's effectively written himself into a corner at this point and a reveal to either one of the two possible endings would have divided the audience.

What more to say?

The special effects were nice... or perhaps that would be better phrased as... the imagination behind some of the efffects was okay. I especially liked the part where the dream architect is folding up bits of the city as she walks about it.

And the acting was okay too. I’m really not that familiar with DiCaprio (seen very few of his movies although I liked him in Shutter Island) but he seemed competent enough. Ditto Ellen Page who was absolutely amazing in both Hard Candy and Juno. And, of course, Marion Cottilard and the rest of them were all fine too.

And a servicable score by Hans Zimmer although I liked the last three albums I bought of his a lot more than this one.

So... nice effects, great performances, not so bad score... but to me it really means nothing unless you have a good solid idea which hasn’t been done to death before (in many ways this is almost a remake of David Cronenberg’s eXistenZ... but instead of having virtual layers of reality within a game you have them within dreams). And although I believe that a movie is at least trying if it shows you something you’ve never seen on screen before (as this one does in a few places) I’m afraid that the most this one was doing was trying my patience.

I guess for me the true test of a film is whether it's got repeat viewing potential. I can repeat watch films like Blade Runner and The Third Man forever. I certainly don't think I could sit through Inception ever again.

Should you go and see it though? Yes. Absolutely. I’m one dissenting voice where thousands of others are shouting the absolute opposite. Go see it for yourself and make your own mind up. I didn’t like Avatar either... so what do I know?


  1. Well for a film critic who doesn't like the movie you wrote some much about why you didn't rate it much. I have an impression you wanted to be unique and deliberately not like the film so that you could make a 'name for yourself' in the cyberworld, but hey what do I know?


  2. Hi there Gill.

    I'm sorry you didn't like the piece and I assure you I wasn't looking forward to writing it considering lots of people seem to actually like this movie.

    I'm not a film critic... I actually tell you wether I like something or not and as far as I can remember a critics job involves being impartial as to whether they like it or not... a dying breed these days it seems.

    Thanks for calling me unique but I really am not... I read another review of it today which "saw through" this movie too so that made me feel a little better about things.

    Seriously, I don't go out and deliberately not like a film. In fact, I was so sure I was going to like this one that I even bought the soundtrack album to pre-listen to it before the movie in keeping within the spirit of the circumstances in which Zimmer wrote the score.

    Seriously? A name for myself in the "cyberworld"? Brilliant. Um... this "cyberworld" you are talking about is pretty big I suspect. If I wanted to somehow make "a name" in it then I really wouldn't be doing that by writing this blog. I don't know how many readers I've actually got but I bet it's a pretty small amount. I don't think the NUTS4R2 blog covers it somehow... but seriously, thanks for the negative comment, I was worried I wasn't getting any of those.

    OKay, so it looks like I hit a nerve here then... you obviously must have liked the movie to post such a passionate reply to my blog. That's cool... each to his or her own. I'm certainly sorry if I've either offended you or given you pause for thought (in a negative way) with my words.

    All the best to you.