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. Rii

    Rii Rear Admiral

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

    ^ My favourite scene was the one that ended with Cobb and his wife out on the ledge. The hotel fight is probably impressive enough on its own merits, but I think it came just as I was beginning to shift in my seat.

    I'm notoriously impatient when it comes to action scenes in both print and flm, as for the most part they're zeroes in terms of meaningful character or narrative development. The only thing that matters is the outcome, and half the time you can guess that in advance. It takes something pretty special (see: Terminator 2) to hold my interest through an extended action scene on the strength of its execution alone, and Nolan doesn't have it. Inception's problem is that it's forever cutting between the various layers to keep the viewer grounded in the overall picture - excessively so, I'd argue; have a little faith in the audience - but it's only the deepest layer that contains anything in the way of meaningful dialogue. And often not even then, as in the seemingly neverending snow combat sequence. Inception thus winds up with an awful lot of 'dead air' between developments of interest as it skips through the various layers. And its not like the story was in any need of padding. The film could've been tightened up significantly and been much better for it.

    One criticism I've seen leveled against the film is that it's emotionally cold. I disagree with that. I think the tale of Cobb and his wife and Cobb's subsequent struggles and behaviours is quite affecting. That the emotional hooks have their basis in the intellectual grounds of the film lends them a somewhat different texture than most films which are content to derive their emotional impact from basic human instincts transplanted into whatever the situation happens to be (see: Ripley in Aliens) but this kind of union of the emotional and intellectual is very fertile ground, of the kind that Star Trek liked to approach in its finest moments (The City on the Edge of Forever). I think most charges of the film's 'coldness' arise not because the emotional hooks aren't there, but because they're simply swamped by the action/effects quotient. It's an active struggle to follow the film's character-based core.

    The only bit that didn't ring quite right with me was the emphasis Cobb's desire to return to the US, where it should've been to return to his children with returning to the US being only a necessary prerequisite to that. We saw Cobb and his separation from his children, but all we heard from him was 'gotta get back to the US'. Just a couple different lines of dialogue would've done the trick.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2010
  2. Ancient Mariner

    Ancient Mariner Vice Admiral Admiral

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

    I know I'm exceedingly late to the party, but I disagree with this and say that the ambiguity of the final scene wasn't meant to provoke a "dream v. reality" debate, but to say, simply: It doesn't matter whether or not the final scene is dream or reality. What matters is its reality to Cobb. He walks away from the "test" because he's already accepted what he sees as reality. He's taken a leap of faith (i.e. no tangible test is necessary to him to either prove or disprove his belief). Or to put it more simply, the point of the film is its journey (Cobb's ability to forgive himself and let go of his guilt), rather than its destination. We're not shown the top falling (or forever spinning) because it just doesn't matter.

    I say this because *if* the final scene is intended to spark debate amongst moviegoers as to whether or not the final scene was real or a dream, then I'd say Nolan was being little more than an amateur hack -- conjuring up a cinematic "trick" by not taking a stand in his own film. If the whole point was some arbitrary ambiguity, then the "cut to black" before confirming one possibility over another would be ridiculously cliché (and cowardly) in this case, and far more problematic than the ending of, say, The Matrix Revolutions (which, at the very least, had a resolution).

    But I don't think Nolan is a hack (Inception, like so many of his films, is, in fact, pretty good) so therefore I do think the debate about about the final scene is, ultimately, a moot point as far as the film itself is concerned (as an intellectual exercise it's fun to debate and, for the record, I believe the entire film, including the final scene, is a dream). The fact is, we do get a specific resolution, which comes from the fact that Cobb is reunited with his children in a moment that is as real to him as "reality" is to the rest of us. It's real enough that, if he is dreaming, he won't wake up.

    My criticism with Inception is that, like the lower layers of dreams, Cobb's story is simply buried too deeply under exposition and action set pieces. The result is that his own journey is minimized -- as is the focus on themes such as the nature of reality, redemption, forgiveness, faith, family, and what it means to spend a lifetime -- be it fifteen minutes or fifty years -- with someone you love.

    Ultimately, I give the film a 'B' for its exceptional creativity, craft and performances. But it misses being truly exceptional because it felt too overbloated with rules and 'splosions (really, the editing of the final climactic scenes, in which we're repeatedly shown a van being shot at or falling off a bridge, or a zero-g elevator rescue, or unidentifiable snowpeople shooting at one another were all truly redundant). The miscues made it more difficult to truly engage with Cobb's conflict -- which was the ultimate point of the story.
     
  3. Set Harth

    Set Harth Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2010
    Location:
    Morrowind
    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    If the DVD stops spinning, it means that the film is over and you are back in reality.