Sunday, July 25, 2010

Review: Inception

For months, the world waited in anticipation to see the interworkings of Christopher Nolan's mind in the highly awaited Inception. Now after grossing $62 million on its first weekend, and currently sitting at an 86%, 74 on Metacritic, and 94 on BFCA, it is officialy that Inception is a hit. So last night I finally went to dive into Nolan's world, and came out mesmerized by its visuals, emotionally stunned by its content, and officially on the Inception Oscar bandwagon.

Despite its premise, the idea of Inception isn't all that complicated. A team of the best and brightest are hired and assembled by a wealthy buisnessman to help thwart a rival. Underneath that is the layering story of a long-suffering husband who is still mourning the loss of his wife, as well as dealing with being on the run for her accused murder. Sounds simple right?  That is where Nolan takes us on a twisting, turning thrill ride, because the team is a group that goes and steals ideas from people's dreams. The businessman is trying to get them to perform an even more complicated procedure called inception, in which a new idea is planted into the subconscious, and the lingering memory of the dead wife comes back to ruin their plans by sabatoging the dreams at the most inconvienent times. So as the audience slips further and further into the interconnecting layers of dreams, the task becomes more difficult, Cobb's memory of his wife becomes more painful, and the dream becomes more visually enticing.

The acting ranges from steady to phenomenal depending on the character. Michael Caine makes an impression in just one short scene. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ken Watanabe are decent enough as their respective characters, but neither shows dramatic range or has many speaking lines. Ellen Page is dealt a lot of clunky dialogue because her character, the architect, is stuck explaining a lot of what is going on. Despite that, Page is wonderfully curious, and surprisingly strong in her first big role since her quirky Juno. Tom Hardy is surprisingly funny, and adds a certain quality that makes him a stand out. Cillian Murphy is also surprisingly deep in his role, and turns out to be incredibly important to the story. However the two that carry the acting weight are Marion Cotillard and Leonardo Dicaprio. Their story is the emotional center and both play it with intensity and passion that make both of them Oscar contenders.

The most rememberable part has to be the technical wizardry that is Christopher Nolan. From the enticing visuals, to the incredible sound highlighted by Hans Zimmer's score, all make for a delictable treat for both the eyes and the ears.

Despite its great heights, Inception isn't without its flaws. The story is confusing, and while Nolan usually explains everything, there are moments where we could have used an explanation, and moments where clunky dialogue weighs down the pace, and over explains. Furthermore, while there is tremendous emotional depth, it sometimes gets lost among the twists and turns leaving less impact that I had hoped for.

However, while it doesn't reach the heights of The Dark Knight, it is still the most original and inventive movie released in many years, that is well-acted, superbly made, and visually entertaining, and has plenty of Oscar potential. There are a few locks such as the sound categories, visual effects, and most likely Zimmer's score. I also think that Nolan deserves a directing nod, as does much of the cast especially Marion Cotillard, Leonardo Dicaprio, Tom Hardy, and Cillian Murphy. Finally, if they can make room for The Blind Side and A Serious Man, then there is surely room in the ninth or tenth slot for an original work of art that is pure movie magic.

Grade: A-

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