Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Friday, July 16, 2010

INCEPTION: Movie Review

Inception Movie Review:
This movie has been tracking well and receiving summer blockbuster reviews from critics and fan boys alike. The film is due in theaters Fri 7/16 but I was lucky to get a ticket to an advance screening on Wed 7/14. I was among the last to get a seat as the theater was packed with rabid male 20-somethings waiting for their summer action "fix". I was eager but cautious too. This movie was hyped as James Bond meets the Matrix which, if done well, would blow my mind.

Sadly, I have heard those claims before and have been disappointed(does Aeon Flux and Wanted ring a bell?). Still, I was open to the possibilities especially after the movie trailers with the gravity-less fighting scenes, out-of-this-world set pieces and dream-wake mind-job sci-fi scenarios. In fact, if anyone could equal or even top the Matrix, Chris Nolan was in a short pile of people who just might be able to do it (along with Peter Jackson, Steven Spielberg and M. Knight Shamayla at his Sixth Sense prime). Ten years is a long time to wait for a post-Matrix hit so I snuggled down in my seat and waited with baited breath. The screen burst to life and the movie started with an orchestral music at a crescendo...

Spoiler Alert!!!Spoiler Alert!!!Spoiler Alert!!!Spoiler Alert!!!

Big spoilers so don't read any further unless you're brave--

The Review:
I wanted to like this movie and the visuals were stunning but I didn't enjoy it because it was a blatant rip off of The Matrix almost scene for scenes and near similar dialog. I've seen the Matrix over 40 times and I know a Matrix rip-off when I see it. Yeah, the set pieces are innovative and the CGI is top notch sure enough but it's still a poorly executed Matrix, with a little Mission Impossible and James Bond thrown in for effect. I really expected better from Chris Nolan considering his other films.

#1) In one of the early scenes, Leo's character says "dreams/ideas are contagious like viruses" well in the Matrix Agent Smith says practically the same "virus" thing to Morpheus when they are torturing him near the end.

2) Leo's character takes Ellen Page's character on her first shared dreaming experience unbeknown to her and she says "so I'm dreaming?" while in the Matrix Mor- pheus takes Neo into the Matrix training program for the first time unbeknown to him and Neo says "so, this is the Matrix?"

Later in that same scene, Leo walks with Ellen through a crowd explaining the dream as a 'training session". People bump and jostle them along the way and Ellen is alarmed. Ditto in the same scene from the Matrix before they see the Lady in Red. Ellen/Neo asks "so this isn't real?" Leo/Morpheus both answers "What is real?"

3)Leo says "dreams are creative ideas of the mind or projections" v.s. Morpheus' "the Matrix is a construct of your subconscious... a projection of yourself". Later Leo says it again when they deep sleep with Cilian Murphy's character.

4) If I die in deep dreaming/if I die in the Matrix, will I die in real life? Leo/Morpheus answers "your mind makes it real."

5) Leo to Ellen "we need an architect" and in Matrix Reloaded we learn that the Matrix was built by The Architect.

6) Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Arthur takes Ellen through a repeated shared dream training program like Tank did with Neo when he learned Kung Fu in the Matrix. At one time Ellen may have even mouthed the word "whoa"(lol).

7) Mal tells Leo "no it's more real in the dream... your kids are there... come back with me" v.s. Cipher tells Trinity "the Matrix is more real than here(Zion)... they're putting me back in the Matrix"

8) The "dream machines" even looked similar to the EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse) machines used to disarm the squid-like sentinel machines in the Matrix.

9) Instead of agents, an armed security force from Cilian Murphy's militarized subconscious shoot at Leo and his crew in the deep dream. Most of the gun play is done on street or freeways like in Reloaded.

10) Leo's character runs through a crowed open air market then through an alley, ducking and weaving while the "agents" shoot at him just like Neo did near the end
of the Matrix.

11) Tom Hardy's Eames character's tongue in cheek "impersonation" of a sexy blond female in a white form-fitting 50's style dress was funny but it was just a version
of the Lady in Red, that the character Mouse had designed, who existed only in the Matrix training program.

12) In Inception, an elevator is rigged to explode with explosives and the resulting explosion sets up the films resolution as in the Matrix.

Other Things I Hated About Inception:


1 hour in real life = 3 months in deep dreaming (cough "the Matrix").

5 hours = 10 years

10 hours = 50 years

WTC! What conversion factor are they using and why didn't some one tell me there was going to be a test!?

Plot and Character Development:

The science behind dreams is a fascinating field and the thought of manipulating some one's dream is exciting but this movie was flat and unimaginative in that department. Inception did not explore or exploit any of the existing dream science. It seems that we all dream almost every time we sleep but we often don't recall them. I know babies dream big time and even pets have dreams. We mostly dream in color and I in particular dream in Technicolor, HD and surround sound(lol). The movie didn't deal with the science of dream recall at all either and they did not even mention REM stage sleep, lucid dreaming or how drugs can stop REM stage and dreaming.

What was worst about the movie is that there was no emotional attachment to most of the character. Leo's character didn't work for me as I felt he was shifty to begin with and I never invested in his character. I didn't really care if he got back to his kids or not, in fact, I couldn't even remember Leo's character's name after the movie was over. I put this blame firmly at the feet of Chis Nolan, as both writer and director. He spent too much time having Leo do exposition and explaining the dream process instead of creating relationships and conflict. The only source of conflict for Leo (after Ken Watanabe became an ally) was Marion Cotillard's who played his crazy wife, Mal, who as her name suggest seemed very "bad" for the kids to be around anyway, so again, no connection.

Also, what was so sucky about their real life that lead them to want to stay in the dream one? Is dreaming like a drug or are hey addicted to the drugs that get you to dream deep? If we had a clue maybe we would have cared about the characters and the movie may have worked.

And Nolan under-developed and under-utilized Michael Caine and Ellen Page. Caine already showed that he can handle futuristic concepts with his performance in Children of Men so Nolan should have ran with it. How Leo and Caine knew so much about dreaming and why the interest was never explained. The same for Ellen's character. Ellen looks like a 17 year old girl. Why didn't they use a theory that a younger female's brain, though smaller than a males, had more nerve tracts so they would be more creative and prone to better dreaming but more sensitive to it's negative effects overall. This would explain how quickly Ellen mastered shared dreaming. It would also explain why Mal's dreaming went wrong as she aged in deep dream and why Leo couldn't control his own dreaming as well and it would double his guilt/conflict over performing "inception" on Mal.

And don't get me started on the misuse of Ken Watanabe who was the most believable of all the characters in the first Act then fades/dies near the end of Act 2. Nolan should have used a plot device to keep the relationship/conflict between Leo and Ken
brewing and therefore, make their meeting at the end of the movie more dramatic.

Inception's Bright Spots:
The only bright spots were Joseph Gordon-Levitt who plays, Arthur, Leo's slim three-piece suit wearing "by the book" dream technician and Tom Hardy, who plays the beefy prankster Eames, Arthur's polar opposite. Gordon-Levitts serious face and all business attitude unfolded to reveal a much more sensitive character especially in his interaction with Ellen. All their scenes resonated well and were totally believable. Plus, Gordon-Levitt's zero-gravity fight scenes were the action highlight of the movie for me and I wished that that was more of what the movie was about.

Tom Hardy was great as comic relief and he got 2 of the movie's 3 big gut laughs from me and the theater's audience at the showing. I thought the action was really going to start when Eames pulled out a rocket launcher and told Arthur, "don't be afraid to dream bigger, darling" but, alas, it still didn't pick up.

The movie was paced well but I was so non-invested that I felt bored and sleepy a few times. I also thought the guy behind me was sleeping too as I heard snoring but it was coming from the film itself(lol). Oh, did I mention that they made me do math?

My Take:
This movie is so bad that Nolan may have written it in his sleep(I couldn't resist-lol). The cold ending was a complete cop out! Leaving the ending open to the imagi-nation or interpretation of the viewer used to be considered deep and cerebral decades ago but now it just means that (like in Lost and the Sopranos) that they couldn't think of a better ending or that they are just lazy. Plus, isn't this just the Michael Jackson story with Cotillard as Michael and Leo and the Muslim guy as Dr. Conrad Murray and where inception and deep dreaming is actually the drug propofol? And the children he/she leaves behind are just that, left behind.

There was big applause when the movie ended and all the fanboys were gushing about it but all I could think was "epic fail". I discussed it a bit with a few of them before realizing that they were all big Nolan/Dark Knight fans and would applaud even if Nolan took a crap in their hand. Plus, Inception was to be the hope to save this summer's movie going experience so I can understand their reluctance to part with reality. None of them understood the movie but some suggested that I watch the movie again to get the "deeper meaning" as like they were all planning to do.

Then they all gave me that look that I loathe. The one that says "you're just not smart enough to get it". The nerve of these Nolan fanboys! I shouldn't have to bring my Asimov and Philip K. Dick collection, my 3 advance science degrees or my cherished VHS copy of Blade Runner as proof of my deep love and understanding of all things sci-fi. I left them alone after that. But guys, if you were fool enough to see this movie the first time like I was, I warn you:


You did not miss anything because there was nothing there.

The movie is a great visual escape but the the substance is not there.

Your money will be better spent elsewhere (especially in this economy).

Inception is a "no go". "There is no spoon".

Score: D or 5/10
To Nolan: Nice try but next time, "don't be afraid to dream bigger, darling".

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