Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discussion

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Aragorn, Jul 15, 2010.

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Grading

  1. Excellent

    71.0%
  2. Above average

    23.7%
  3. Average

    3.6%
  4. Below average

    1.8%
  5. Poor

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Myasishchev

    Myasishchev Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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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. :rolleyes: 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: Jul 17, 2010
  2. scnj

    scnj Captain Captain

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    I don't know yet. I'm leaning towards excellent because the film worked on every level (heh) for me the first time, but I feel like I'll need a couple more viewings before deciding.
     
  3. FluffyUnbound

    FluffyUnbound Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    Do you personally dream that way?

    My dreams almost always occur in strikingly prosaic environments. They're usually recognizable places that I've been, frankly.

    I often have the opposite complaint about "dream" movies - that they contain a lot of overt surrealism that seems like it's trying too hard.

    That's one of my concerns going into this movie. That scene in the trailers where the city folds up and half of it is in the sky? If that happened in one of my own dreams, I'd laugh at it and then probably immediately wake up.
     
  4. Yoda

    Yoda Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    I thought it was an excellent sci-fi movie. I had to pee ridiculously bad during the last hour though, so maybe I didn't quite understand it all as well as I should have :)

    I typically hate when tv and movies try to do dreams, so I'm with Fluffy.
     
  5. Caliburn24

    Caliburn24 Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    I just got back from the film and voted excellent.

    But it is a movie that will take some time and repeat viewings to fully digest. There are a number of scenes where it moves so fast that I was quite confused, and added to that is the subtext that the very last shot of the movie highlights.

    Will the movie hold up better or worse on a 2nd and 3rd viewing? I'm not sure, but I am sure that I want to see it again.
     
  6. DarthPipes

    DarthPipes Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    I voted Excellent.

    Great film. Fantastically original. Definitely my favorite film of the year.

    It is hard to explain this film but it was definitely awesome. Loved the cast and the zero gravity fight was a highlight. That was really Tommy from 3rd Rock? Agreed about the performances of both Ken Watanbe and Cillian Murphy. They were standouts. Nice to see Ellen Page's character wasn't a token love interest. Liked seeing so many familiar faces although Tom Berenger is looking like Marlon Brando. He looked even worse on the Major League DVD featurette.

    Loved the point they raised that a person can never remember how a dream started. It's so true. You just pick up in the middle of it.

    Dislikes...

    -Found the accents to be a little hard to understand and I missed a few things that were said.

    -That dude should get his money back. His "security force" looks like they learned their shooting from the Imperial stormtroopers.

    Observation...the audience was packed but it seemed like at least 80% of the crowd was middle-aged. Was this true at other showings? Just curious.

    All and all, a great experience and I have more admiration for the work of Christopher Nolan.
     
  7. CaptainCanada

    CaptainCanada Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    Oh, that's who that was; that was driving me nuts.

    Anyway, really good; I agree it didn't quite have the "instant classic" edge, but I still voted excellent, because that level of craft and basically compelling thriller deserves it.

    A lot of people thought from the trailers (and some reviewers have called this) a mind-bendy film, but it's really not. There's only two "haha! we're actually dreaming!" bit, and they come at the start; everything else is laid out quite clearly and comprehensively. Which isn't bad or anything, but it wasn't what I was expecting.

    Great acting from everybody; quite an amazing cast, right down to Sir Michael Caine and Pete Postlethwaite in bit parts that could have been played by anyone. Marion Cotillard's always a highlight for me in the movies she's in. And DiCaprio, well, I don't think any actor working right now has such consistently good taste in directors.

    And Cillian Murphy, cast, for possibly the first time in his career, as a normal person.
     
  8. DarthPipes

    DarthPipes Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    That was Tom Hardy? I KNEW it! He did a really good job too.
     
  9. CaptainCanada

    CaptainCanada Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    In terms of the "what's missing" quotient in the film, maybe it's that, on reflection, the movie really isn't about anything other than the plot, compared to some of Nolan's other films, which were also meditations on some fairly deep themes.
     
  10. scnj

    scnj Captain Captain

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    Holy shit! That was Shinzon?! I mean, I couldn't stand him in Nemesis but he was one of my favourite characters here.
     
  11. DarthPipes

    DarthPipes Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    I can see that point. It's a totally plot-driven story to go along with the special effects. Though the performances really carry for.
     
  12. DarthPipes

    DarthPipes Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    BTW, forgot to add, how great was the score by Hans Zimmer? I was still hearing that in my head several minutes after the movie was finished.
     
  13. Agent Richard07

    Agent Richard07 Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    Saw it and enjoyed it. The dream logic they developed for the story was pretty good and I liked the cast. Gotta say, DiCaprio's character is a sharp dresser. Loved the visuals too. I wonder how they did the weightlessness and the cityscape Cobb and Ariadne were in at the end. The latter didn't look like a total CGI environment. Oh, and I didn't recognize Hardy either. Overall, the movie was so detailed and fast-paced that I didn't catch everything. I'll definately have to see this a few more times.

    At the theatre I was in, the kiss got a laugh and maybe 2 or 3 people clapped when it was over.
     
  14. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    I've seen Ellen Page in Hard Candy, Juno and Whip It. She is the premature reincarnation of Sally Field, i.e., remarkably short but very talented. She still cannot bring her architect role to life. Every time she unveils the next layer of DiCaprio's secret, correctly observes that it's crazy to follow this nut job, then promptly proceeds to ignore herself, I couldn't believe she was a)sensitive and clever enough to leap to the correct conclusion, b)genuinely concerned about the others on the team or c)bravely overcoming fears. To overcome fear, you have to be afraid and she wasn't.

    Unfortunately for the movie, Page's character is the motor for the rather prolonged exposure of DiCaprio's backstory, as well as the emergency doubletalk solution to a movie ending delaying moment of alleged jeopardy. If Allen Ludden had been cast, DiCaprio could have officially signed into I've Got a Secret. Like the panel, Page at regular intervals asks questions to provide the audience clues. It is not a bit obvious why Page needed to be there, if she just designed the scenery. The pointlessness of the character is not helpful.

    Ken Watanabe as the hands on billionaire who will take part in waylaying a competitor (surely a criminal act,) is completely unbelievable. He's energetic enough though to make you wonder how Cillian Murphy's character could possibly fail to recognize a business rival in the next aisle of the plane.

    Tom Hardy does some sort of male bitch shtick, but that's not quite a personality.

    Joseph Gordon-Levitt does quite well in playing a nondescript personality. He is indeed a stick up the ass dude, but he's a convincing one. This is vital to passing off the team as a group of real people with monetary goals, instead of finger puppets for DiCaprio.

    Cillian Murphy provides a welcome bit of human emotion, and his character actually explores the notion of dreams as wish fulfilment a little.

    But the movie is essentially, does DiCaprio win? The movie is basically lots of action with repeated apparent defeats for DiCaprio, which have to be surmounted by first giving in to his demons, then mastering them, supposedly, though that part is not quite so compelling as they would hope. The action sequences are mostly muddy and confusing, especially every bit of the snow sequence. You can't tell what's happening but fortunately you don't much care about the action sequences. Only the free fall sequence doesn't dull quickly. Some key dialogue is also buried.

    Marion Cotillard makes no sense. For instance, she, supposedly a projection of DiCaprio's unconscious "kills" Cillian Murphy, as a way of dragging him into the unconstructed dream state. Since Saito, who DiCaprio also needs to get back to his kids, is also headed in to said dream state by a dream "death," DiCaprio will be entering the dream state, bringing the projection of Moll (sp?) with him. There is not supposed to be an independent Moll who actually kidnaps Murphy and has to be chased, which seems to be what everyone inexplicably believes.

    It is not correct that the brain actually works faster when dreaming, much less in a geometrical progression as one goes "deeper." However absurd the premise (and the related notion that dreams are more creative,) at least it is consistently adhered to. The dream sequences are mostly done as virtual reality, but the sudden scene shifts typical of dreams are neatly captured. Repetitions and reappearances found in real dreams are not used. It is not clear why projections obediently die like video game characters.

    At the end, when the spinning top begins to precess (meaning, eventually fall,) by the rules of the game, that means it's real and DiCaprio won. However, it is unlikely that Cillian Murphy and Tom Berenger won't discuss when Murphy was put into a dream state, which he knows because DiCaprio told him. For that matter, it is unlikely he wouldn't discuss Berenger's dream actions, revealing that Berenger was "forged" by Tom Hardy. Last, Murphy will remember seeing DiCaprio on the plane but won't remember him in context of training against extraction. It is likely that the inception will fail, providing an ironic comment on DiCaprio's victory. I'm pretty sure it's unintentional.

    But anyone who's seen Nolan's previous work will recognize a fixation on a guilty hero, a bizarre belief that ambiguity is deep and a general inability to conceive characters with real motives. Plus an obnoxious insistence that the score go bang, bang, bang to force tension by sheer volume. Writers often revisit material but Nolan has done very little processing since Insomnia and The Prestige. At least DiCaprio doesn't win by being the biggest prick.

    But in the end, this movie has something it's flaws can't diminish: Originality. Above average.
     
  15. scnj

    scnj Captain Captain

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    The showing I was at was maybe 20% middle-aged and mostly people around my age (20). Interestingly, the middle-aged people all left satisfied and excitedly talking and theorizing whereas many of the people around my age seemed bored and fidgety.

    I don't mean to sound elitist, but it seemed that many of the bored looking people didn't understand what was going on and several were texting or tweeting throughout (something I absolutely despise). Hardly a surprise for where I live. When Watchmen came out a man around 25 or so burst out halfway through "this is slow as fuck, no way I'm gonna see the sequel".
     
  16. CaptainCanada

    CaptainCanada Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    She didn't. That was quite explicitly acknowledged: she wasn't going to go, but she insisted after she realized how messed up Cobb was.
    You missed the point; Fischer isn't supposed to think that anything in his dream, like the stuff with Brown, actually happened. All of that is just a way of implanting into his subconscious the idea that it's a good idea to dissolve his father's company. He wakes up with the planted idea that he can fulfill his father's wishes by doing that; the rest is just a weird dream.
     
  17. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    Page didn't do anything with her knowledge of Cobb's problems, any time she discovered another level. Going along with Cobb because he's a nut case to do nothing about it is definitely pointless. Who knows why the others thought she was there?

    The originally planned inception dream would qualify as a seed planted in a dream. But Murphy knows that extraction is possible and takes it seriously enough to get anti-extraction training. When DiCaprio tells him in a dream he's being attacked, it would be alarming and memorable. If he's going to forget that, he's going to forget it all, including the idea.

    But there is one thing confusing me, which is why he needs to give Saito a gun. I thought he needed to find Saito to help his mind survive the unconstructed dream state (how mystical yet drab that jargon is!)
    Is this supposed to mean he did to Saito what he did to Moll? And that Saito will eventually go mad and kill himself?
     
  18. CaptainCanada

    CaptainCanada Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    She was helpful to him, especially at the end; and even if she wasn't, she didn't know exactly what was going to happen. That's plenty of motivation to go along.

    As for the others, they've already got one "tourist". I don't see why they'd object.
    The idea was planted much deeper in his subconscious. Besides which, even if he did remember the other stuff, he'd be worried about extraction, not inception, something everybody seems to believe is impossible.

    Really, though, that's a really extraordinary level of nitpicking for a totally made-up sci-fi process.
    He didn't "need" to give Saito a gun, but the implication was that Saito used the gun to kill himself/DiCaprio, thus freeing them from the dream state.

    Twirling the top had the impact it did on the wife because it was lodged in the representation of her repressed mind or whatever you want to call it; for Saito he just brought it with him and twirled it in front of him. So it's probably not the same thing.
     
  19. Samurai8472

    Samurai8472 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    Sadly I find the younger audiences not having the drive to pay attention longer than an hour or hour and half anymore.

    I have cousins like this. Once the character starts going into exposition mode they turn to texting until the action ramps up.
     
  20. Mr. B

    Mr. B Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    I saw this in Liemax last night. It's easily one of the best movies I've seen at the theater in ages. I'm also at a loss to recall seeing such a genuinely original storyline. The acting, action, cinematography, etc were are good. I'm basiaclly in agreement with Ebert's review.

    Excellent.