Archive for July, 2010

Inception Review

Posted in Film Reviews And Conversations with tags , on July 19, 2010 by Adam Broome

Still smarting from the disappointing Iron Man 2, I was in dire need of a good quality film. With everyone getting hyped up over Eclipse and Toy Story 3, I turned my attention to a mystery film directed by Christopher Nolan – his next film succeeding The Dark Knight. The story had been kept hush-hush, which is usually a bad thing. I went to see it last night to investigate what the rather bizarre trailer was actually about. Nothing could prepare me for what lay in store.

The story has probably been kept quiet because of it’s intricate and complex nature, so I’ll summarise as brief as I can – Leonardo DiCaprio is the main character, a military type who has become a select group of people around the world who are able to penetrate people’s subconscious (it was a concept originally designed by the military, you see). Now on the run, falsely accused of murdering his wife, DiCaprio is desperately trying to find ways to prove his innocence. Salvation appears in the unlikely form of Asian businessman Ken Watanabe, who wants DiCaprio’s particular talents. The mission – to stop rival businessman Cillian Murphy from taking up his recently-deceased father’s throne, and thus jeapordising Watanabe’s own business plans.

DiCaprio decides that the best way to deal with Murphy is to put an idea deep into his subconscious, through a process called ‘inception’. It’s a dangerous process, but DiCaprio is desperate. He selects a team, one of whom is university student Ellen Page. Her character starts out knowing nothing about DiCaprio or inception – and it’s her you’ll mainly be following through the tricky plot.

First off, special effects. For those who have seen the trailer, you will have no doubt what’s in store.  The special effects are top-notch. One critic claimed the dream sequences were not strange enough to be passed off as dreams. This is arguable, but for me, Nolan has done a cracking job of creating convincing ‘impossible’ worlds.

Acting is predictably high quality, given the star-studded cast. Michael Caine is slightly underused as Page’s university lecturer, only being on screen for 2 of the 148 minutes running time. Cillian Murphy manages to add depth to a character that would otherwise have just been ‘the villain’, whilst DiCaprio manages to convey his conservative military type with aplomb, a character under constant strain of memories of his wife.

Cinematography is of such a standard there seems very little to say about it. The trailer will show you a horizon that loops up into the sky and folds over the top of the world, but that’s just a simple CGI trick. The real fun comes in the form of paradoxical staircases and randomly-appearing freight trains. One scene early on involving a dream flooding with water made an impression, whilst another proved that you don’t need CGI to make people float down hotel corridors anymore. A scene on a mountain seemed a little out of place, but it was perfectly kosher with the plot.

The script was every bit as witty and intriguing as Nolan’s previous two Batman films. Every now and then there are dashes of humour to lighten up the understandably complex situations the characters find themselves in. Emotion can feel detached from the characters at some points – overtaken by the surrealism occuring all around. However, the most important notion – that of desperation and panic – are consistant throughout, making this an edge-of-your-seat experience – alas, only if you can follow the plot.

The idea seems to paralell that of The Matrix somewhat. People go to sleep, and enter a dream world in which almost anything can happen. The one difference here is that, unlike The Matrix, the dream world looks rather similar to the real world. Thus, Nolan tricks the audience several times into leading them into false ‘real worlds’. Soon, you’ll be doubting every scene as the real one, effectively drawing the events of the entire movie into question. Personally, though, I feel this was less sci-fi than the 1999 classic. Despite the sequences, this seemed a much more realistic and believable affair.

Overall, there is very little to fault with the film. With the exception of Once Upon A Time In The West, an older film I saw back in February, this is without a doubt the best film I have seen this year. The concept was original enough for my liking, and it’s nice to see someone who seems to have made a genuinely imaginative film, rather than a sequel or a remake. It may have done better as a ’15’ certificate, given the adult nature of some scenes, but this is ultimately a lot less violent than The Dark Knight. I wish it every success. It’s nice to see these kind of films, which seem rare to come by nowadays.

There is no introduction sequence, so the moment it starts rolling, you have to be on top form right from the off. If you want a film to relax and kick back to, this is not the film for you. It is not Pirates Of The Caribbean. It is not Superman. This is, as everyone has indeed commented on, an intelligent blockbuster. You must be ready to play hardball if you’re going to see this film. Once you’re lost (as is easy to do), I imagine you’re in a world of hurt.

If, however, you do fancy hedging your bets, I thoroughly recommend this film.  Amidst all the zero-gravity hotel corridors and crumbling Japanese villas, there is a solid story with good characters and a good script. Yes, you get a few twists with it as well. I managed to follow it just fine, so it is possible to do.

Just don’t have a toilet break.