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Old July 17 2010, 02:39 AM   #21
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

Edit: maybe very vaguely spoilery. But you know what, one should sort of expect much more severe spoilers in a review thread about a movie than below...

I voted excellent but wish there were a category between that and merely "above average" because that's where Inception squarely fits.

Highlights include:

1)the alternating-gravity fight* with Tommy from Third Rock and subconscious henchman no. 21; Ariadne's introduction to Cobb's dream world;
2)Tommy, Ken Watanbe, Cillian Murphy's excellent and surprising performances;
3)DiCaprio's unsurprisingly excellent performance;
4)and the last shot, which left me laughing out loud, possibly to the consternation of my fellow theatre patrons, as I was quite pleasantly surprised at what a complete cock Nolan had to be to do that when he had already achieved the rare feat of having his protagonist so completely earn his happy ending.

Lowlights include:

1)the alpine set-piece, which was what I might expect in a G.I. Joe episode focusing on Snow Job**;
2)Cobb's wife Mal's extremely distracting nearly-broken English;
3)the questionable if narratively requisite exponential dream-time effect, which I'm pretty sure is bullshit and would run into some hard physical and biological limits long before the Limbo scene ran its course;
4)most crucially, the visual letdown of Cobb's only mildly oddly-structured mental basement.

Overall, it was a great film, but as others have noted, missing a little something. I think that something was sheer, balls-to-the-wall, phantasmogoric weirdness. The three dream stages Ariadne designed have their excuse--they were structured by a waking and rational mind, if an artistic one, and structured for a purpose. So I was okay with their basic banality. But when they got to "Limbo," I was ready for some true insanity. Unfortunately, we got Cobb's Sim City. In what can only be described as cinematic ass-backwardsness, the most vivid, strange, and dreamlike images occur in the first act, when Ariadne is being given her first taste of shared dreaming and starts controlling the mental landscape of Cobb's psyche; every setting after that is much less interesting. For an example of this sort of thing done right, I direct you immediately to the chase through John Malkovich's subconscious.

One critic--can't remember who--said that he had his mind blown, but not as much as he expected. I wholeheartedly agree with that. In the end, Christopher Nolan's film about the power of fantasy was simply not fantastic enough.

*The actual free-fall fight was not as cool. My guess is this is basically what happens when someone on the ISS doesn't clean the air vent like he was supposed to.
**The most unintentionally hilarious line: "He's being chased by a whole damn army!" [cut to a single Hummvee]; but at least this was funny, unlike "Dream bigger" or something to that effect and have a character lift a grenade launcher easily visible to every character but held out of frame. That said, in closing this up I'd like to congratulate Nolan and Watanabe on the truly very funny line "I bought the airline."

Last edited by Myasishchev; July 17 2010 at 02:50 AM.
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