Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Mini-post: Inception, why it's only good, and why it'll be remembered

There's not a lot about Inception that hasn't already been said. The film has taken over popular media for weeks now. A multitude of sites have done an array of dissections in an attempt to decipher the full story of the film. Now, I feel this is in vain, as if we were supposed to know everything we would already. By viewing the movie, we've gotten out of it what Nolan wants us to get out of it.
But beyond that dissection is critical analysis of the film. Now this has also been overdone, but I feel as if most reviews tend to lean too far towards "messy film that sucks" or towards "god tier film, The Matrix of this decade." It's neither. Now, I'm a huge Nolan fan. Memento is one of my top 5 films. Insomnia, Prestige, and Following are examples of how his common themes of obsession can be so well expressed when edited in the right way. The Batman films are fun popcorn flicks. But Inception has sort of soured on me. A common theme in things I'm watching lately is carried over here: there's so much more that could have been done. The script feels like it collapses under such a grand and exciting premise; invading dreams could result in such wild adventures. And the film gives a look of having a diverse and compelling cast of characters. Instead, the film is nothing more than a psychological twist on a heist film. Normally, this would be excellent. But with such a huge amount of frontloaded hype, the film ends up being just very good.
I still think it will be discussed for years, though. Hopefully this film and Batman 3 become a sort of turning point for Nolan. I would love to see this director, who now has so much positive buzz around him, attempt to tackle a story in the vain of The Prestige or Memento. With a bigger budget and a guaranteed viewing audience, Nolan's creativity could end up defining his career, instead of the popcorn fun of Inception and the Batman films. Also, because the film does leave a lot open to interpretation and because many of the concepts of the film are confusing, conversation will continue and I'm sure more spin-off stories from comics to guide books will develop.
So in the end, I really wanted to love Inception. I only enjoyed it. The acting was good for what everyone was given, the two central stories of Cobb and Robert were great, the cinematography was excellent, and the action was done well enough. On the purely creative side, the movie doesn't really deliver. Hopefully this pushes Nolan to reevaluate the films he's making.

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