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Old July 18 2010, 05:59 PM   #78
Too Much Fun
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

I don't see what the big deal is. I didn't think it lived up to the hype of everyone saying it was a masterpiece that saves a so far dismal summer movie season. It has some of the same problems as Nolan's other movies like too much exposition and incoherent action scenes, and the exposition was even more annoying this time because it was made of confusing jargon about the imaginary technology of the movie. Also, to echo an opinion I've read elsewhere (and agreed with), Dicaprio was doing the same schtick he's done in several movies now ("The Aviator", "The Departed", "Shutter Island") where he's basically 'intense guy, haunted by some personal demons'. Not the most interesting or original protagonist.

The movie has such a great cast and doesn't give most of them enough to do. Ellen Page, who was so endearing and funny in "Juno" plays a pretty dull character. She just gets stuff explained to her and feels sorry for Leo. Joseph-Gordon Levitt who showed tons of charisma in "(500) Days of Summer", gets two cool moments "paradox!" and "worth a shot", but mostly stands around looking serious. Tom Hardy, who was so charismatic in "Star Trek: Nemesis" that the sheer force of his performance convinced me that the movie and his character were great the first time I saw it, has a few fun wise-cracking moments, but sometimes his dialog is drowned out by the soundtrack.

I've heard it described as 'James Bond meets the Matrix', and in some ways, I think that's a problem. For example, the constant explosions and scenes like the van being shot at by thugs and endless thugs shooting at the heroes in the snow felt like generic James Bond action. I got bored of seeing entire cities crumbling too. The novelty wore off after awhile.

There were lots of positives, though. I found the soundtrack delightfully foreboding and always enjoyable (except when it drowned out dialog). I really liked how time was shown going at a different rate in dreams by having so much going on while the van is going over the bridge in mere seconds (although again, the snow scenes bored me at times). While the snow scene was weak, I was so happy every time the movie cut back to the zero gravity scene. I thought that was the best part of the movie.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt's physical performance was terrific (although again, I wish his character had more development and dialog), and the way the fight was shot with climbing the walls and flying through the air was the one action part of the movie that did feel really original and exciting. I also thought the visual of him stringing together all the sleepers and dragging them into the elevator was amazing.

Also, I thought the ending was awesome, so I left the movie feeling positive, but when I look back on it, there were things that bugged me. I admire the movie most for the neatness of some of its visuals and overall I liked it and am glad I saw it, but I don't think it's the visionary masterpiece many are calling it. I also don't think it's Nolan's best film so far. I would rank it below all of them, except "Following", which isn't much of an accomplishment since that was his first movie and he still had a lot to learn when he made it.

In general, the plot bugged me because of all the excessive exposition (like "The Dark Knight", although I thought that movie was much better than this one), but I did think the inception plan itself was brilliant and I like the way it worked on Cillian Murphy's character. I said it disappointed me that Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Tom Hardy didn't have more to do, but I liked how Cillian Murphy and Ken Watanabe had much bigger roles than they did in Nolan's other movies. This allowed Murphy to show his acting chops more. Overall, I think the movie had too much of some things and too little of other things, but the things that worked about it were extremely impressive and made it worth watching.
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