David and Lara’s Reviews of Inception

26 Jul

David’s Review

I am really having trouble thinking of anything to say about Inception. Not because there’s nothing to say either. No, there are quite a few things one could talk about with Christopher Nolan’s latest film. I am simply having trouble putting any of it into words. It’s been a little over a week since I saw this film, and I am still thinking about it at least once every forty-five minutes. And let me stop right here and confirm that this is a good thing. After I saw Sweeney Todd, I thought about how much I hated it pretty regularly. I would stop, remember a scene, think for a couple of seconds about how terribly stupid that scene was, and then I would move on. With Inception, I stop, remember a scene, smile to myself, think for a while about what that scene means, smile some more, and then tell my wife how much I loved Inception.

How often does that pattern happen with a movie? I would venture to say not often enough.

So what was it? What made a movie about thieves who steal ideas from your dreams so amazing? I could try and give you an actual rundown of the movie right now, discussing the symbolism and what certain parts of the story meant. But I feel like that would cheapen it in a way. I almost didn’t even want to write a review of this. I want everyone to go into the theater with barely an idea of what the movie is about. So, instead of discussing the pros and cons of this film, I will simply make two lists, a good things list and a bad things list.

Good Things About Inception:
1. The supporting actors: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Tom Hardy, and Ken Watanabe are all amazing in this film. Simply amazing.
2. An original idea: How often do we actually have an original idea in the theaters these days? Especially in the summer.
3. The soundtrack: Apparently, Christopher Nolan didn’t allow Hans Zimmer to see any of the movie until after he completed the music. How did that actually work? I don’t know, but this is one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard in a long time.
4. The action: A movie with incredible action that also makes you think? Those actually exist?
5. Marion Cotillard: Yes, I already mentioned that she was amazing. But she’s a pretty good reason to see a movie all by herself.
Bad Things About Inception:
1. The fact that I have only seen it one time.
2. That Michael Caine is only in like 2 scenes.
3. Tom Berenger: Why is he in this movie? He really did a fine job, but come on, Tom Berenger?

There are other problems. But I truly feel that Inception is the type of movie that you can just get completely lost in the world that has been created for you. There is one scene where Leonardo DiCaprio’s character says that dreams are the only way that we can build entire worlds and actually experience them. Well, Christopher Nolan proved his own screenplay wrong with this film. He created several worlds in Inception, and I felt like I was truly experiencing all of them.

Lara’s Review

Hmmm… a spoiler-free review of Inception. Like David stated above, this is going to be difficult. As difficult as stealing memories from someone’s dreams. Okay, maybe a little easier than that. There will be a day to talk of all the layers and concepts in much richer detail, drawing comparisons with Alice’s Adventures Through the Looking-Glass, but it isn’t time for that yet, seeing as the film only came out a week and a half ago. So the question for the time being is: should you see it?

The answer: a resounding yes. Inception is what movies exist for and what all others should strive to be. It’s original, it’s cerebral, it’s dramatic, and it is extremely fun. Over the last five years Nolan has been upsetting the balance of Hollywood—making movies that people want to go see that aren’t mindless. What a concept: mass audiences don’t have to have robot dogs humping legs to be entertained. With Inception he weaves a story that is so fascinating and so well conceived that the viewers never have a second to question it. In the hands of many other directors it might have been done in a way that was lack-luster or patronizing, but Nolan has figured out that if you think highly of your viewers and challenge them, they will rise to the occasion.

Not that Nolan is alone in making this film what it is. If you read my review of Shutter Island you know that in my mind, Leonardo can do no wrong (except maybe in Titanic… and I heard that The Man in the Iron Mask was far from decent). He along with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy, and the always-nice-to-look-at Marion Cotillard, were all solid and fully authentic. I had my doubts going into the film about Ellen Page, I didn’t know if it was possible for her to keep from making pop-culture references with every breath she took, but she didn’t make a single one! It was refreshing.

Other aspects that were absolutely vital in the production were done perfectly as well; Lee Smith’s editing, Hans Zimmer’s score, the visual effects, and Wally Pfister’s cinematography—all flawless. Without these elements working, the film would have been a failure. I can’t stress how important the cinematography was in this film, and it alone had me on the edge of my seat. I was like Neil watching Victor Kulak save children from going over a waterfall (3:28-3:55), I rocked and gestured and put my hands on my head in disbelief, every shot was so beautiful and the action was mind-blowing. A tear or two may have been shed out of sheer awe and excitement. While I’m not usually a fan of slow-motion shots, believing them to be generally used as a cheap way to provoke emotion (cough cough, Peter Jackson), every time slow motion was utilized in Inception it was with purpose and it was totally effective. I know many others are saying this, so I hate to also make the comparison, but the fight scenes were on the same level as The Matrix, yet they were completely their own. I could have watched an entire two hours of Joseph Gordon-Levitt suspended in zero gravity and been fully satisfied.

Okay, I must stop raving for a minute and complain about a couple of things, I am Lara, after all, and no movie in my mind is perfect. I mean, besides E.T. Because of all that it had to pack in, Inception was very rushed, especially in the first act. Due to the rush, the characters aren’t given time to consider the morality of what they are scheming, and neither are the viewers. Also, being the Memento fanatic that I am, I was hoping the film would be more ambiguous. Though I had expected the dream delving to be more of an abstract concept, it is presented in an absolutely concrete manner. This could be to make the idea more clear to the masses or perhaps it was because of Jonathan Nolan’s absence in the screenwriting process. Still, I can’t really complain, for it was still ten times more thought provoking than any other blockbuster, or any other film made this year, for that matter. There were elements that were akin to Shutter Island; the flashes of dreams, the constant appearances of a dead wife, the fuzzy line between reality and fantasy, yet it was so much more original and compelling.

I can’t say much more without giving away too much of the plot or without seeing it a second time, the latter of which I plan to do very soon. Christopher Nolan’s newest project isn’t perfect, yet it challenges studios to consider something they’ve forgotten about: movies that aren’t based off of franchises. Inception is enjoyable and superb and an experience to be had by all. Again and again. 

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5 Responses to “David and Lara’s Reviews of Inception”

  1. Joey Strawn July 26, 2010 at 12:33 pm #

    “Inception is what movies exist for and what all others should strive to be.” Lara, I think you said it best. Sorry I won’t be adding much to the discussion today as much to say that I agree with everything, each of you said. I couldn’t believe how amazing the movie was. Even with it’s faults (more Michael Cain, please!), it was as eye-opening and thought-provoking as anything I could hope for. I have plans to see it again, something I haven’t said for a movie I’ve had to pay to see in years.

    Now, I expect to see a blog post about you guys’ opinions on the ending sometime after the dust settles and everyone has seen the movie multiple times. I also feel a Top 5 Best Movie Endings, list in the works!

  2. Judy McCrea July 26, 2010 at 11:19 pm #

    Well gee! Take a tip from an artist/professor: Art is related to life and people in life get OLDER! I have heard enough compromising comments about Tom Berenger although most are very supportive and complimentary. No surprise since he is a really good actor and in may photos his Irish beefy good looks are quite intact. Too bad that our great directors do not have you to consult.

    • iamhrothgar July 27, 2010 at 2:03 pm #

      I’m sorry to all the Tom Berenger fans out there. I can promise you this was not about his age though. I’m just not a huge fan of Smokin’ Aces 2, Sniper 2, Sniper 3, Silent Venom, The Substitute, or really anything he made after the Major League movie. I’m actually very curious what movies have made you such a Tom Berenger supporter.

  3. Judy McCrea July 27, 2010 at 9:44 pm #

    Hi,
    Tom Berenger has great depth when the script allows it. I liked Platoon, Ridley Scott’s Someone to Watch Over Me, At Play in the Fields of the Lord, and Betrayed with Debra Winger was really under-rated. The Last of the Dogmen was also good. He broke new ground as the first major actor to embrace a role played primarily with full frontal nudity. Stone and Costa Bravos find that his presence is convincing without any visible effort at acting; he just is. I think there might be smatter actors and far more ambitoius actors than Berenger, but his work, taken as a whole,paints a complete picture of masculinity that is a rare combination of vulnerability and testosterone.

  4. Noni August 20, 2010 at 1:53 pm #

    I haven’t seen the film yet (stupid for putting it off)… but I saw a spoof parody of it this morning and now I want to see it more than ever. Chris Nolan delivers awesome entertainment and his work has inspired others to follow in his foot-steps. http://wp.me/piscS-bb

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