Still Vaguely Here: Inception

Sorry I haven’t been around, bloody internet is still not back!

Won’t be long now, but that doesn’t help. So, I thought I should write something quickly to remind the interwebs that I’m still alive, still here and all that. Unfortunately, I can’t think of anything to write about, except Inception which I recently watched. I didn’t want to hodge-podge my thoughts on the film, but I don’t have much of a choice right now. I’ll return and add/revise this later, when I can.

Inception, if you live under a rock and don’t already know, is Christopher Nolan’s latest cinematic effort starring Leonardo Dicaprio and it has been receiving all sorts of rave reviews and early buzz. Given this year’s paltry offering of film, needless to say, I was excited about the prospect of a film some say is the best in a decade. And so, to the film: I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I was disappointed, but it wasn’t as great as it was cracked up to be. In terms of films this year, it was, with the exception of Toy Story 3 (and the admission that I’ve yet to see Animal Kingdom) by far the best. Nolan doesn’t really give you any space to breathe or really contemplate what’s occurring in an ever changing action-packed dreamscape and that’s probably for the best; it’s no doubt the strength of film, that it can take you on this breathless ride.

Although there are conceptual similarities to the Matrix, I did appreciate that this was a subtler, more complex exploration of the dream/reality idea, although as with the former, a little too CGI heavy. I’m as much a fan of great special effects as the next geek, but I do wish less films would opt for the ‘look what we can do’ approach and just get on with the story. There was much more depth to back up the flash in this case, I’m happy to say, but that depth was provided solely by Dicaprio in what was a really strong performance. His is the only real character in the film – everyone else moves and talks but have no backstory, no substance whatsoever (perhaps with the exception of Ken Watanabe’s character). That’s not  to say that the performances are lacklustre; far from it, given the limited material available to them, the support cast did a great job.

I just wish they had more depth, especially in the case of Ellen Page’s oh-so-unsubtly-named Ariadne. Throughout the film, I kept thinking to myself – who the hell is this girl and why is she doing this? Why does she care? Why is she waiting behind and going to such lengths as to all but rape Dicaprio’s mind for his secrets? She existed as a plot device – a means by which we the story could conveniently learn what we needed to learn in order to understand the story. Dicaprio, for his part, went along far too readily, and gave it all up a little too easily, given the emotionally complex, secretive wreck he was supposed to be.

About 15-20mins into the film, I came up with a much better ending to an old short story of mine – Reverie, which you can read here on my blog – and as soon as I did, I realised that this (which I won’t reveal) was exactly where Nolan was heading (which annoyed me, cos I’d really have liked to use it) in a sense and I hoped that he wouldn’t. I don’t like foreseeing the end, certainly not that early into a film. The themes of uncertainty, reality, and dreams were woven really well, and I think most people would’ve, like me, picked up the potential ending well before it arrived. Which would’ve been perfect, had it not been so blatantly and obviously alluded to at the end.

I quite like the idea of that ending being suggested throughout the film – a sort of inception all its own in our minds – that while never killed off entirely, remains a possibility and is certainly not rammed down our throats in the final shot. Sadly, however, that was not the case. Too many details in the film counteract the suggested ending to make it anywhere near convincing, anyway, so it’s really nothing more than a last minute hedge-your-bets cop out, in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, I like the film, and it’s certainly quality entertainment – it moves quite smoothly from reality to dream and back again, there are some wonderful action sequences and great special effects, but for mine, the ending was lame and the support cast were hard done by with cardboard characters.

July 25, 2010

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    Snoink Hahaha, pretty much.
    July 30, 2010 at 6:57 am · Reply
  2. smaur I was really really disappointed with Inception. I'm struggling not to say the word "hate", but considering Nolan's otherwise strong (and occasionally stellar) oeuvre, I'm hard-pressed not to use That Word. What a disappointment. A film so cluttered with exposition and ideas and rules that it has no space to really deliver on anything. Flat, forced, sometimes outright godawful dialogue; characters with nonexistent motivations (as you said); painfully predictable twists and turns (every "plot twist" was stupidly obvious, and I guessed the ending at the beginning), and no heart or humour to keep it going. It's a rollercoaster, but more of a visual than an emotional or even psychological one.

    July 31, 2010 at 6:14 am · Reply