Did you miss me? I missed me. It’s been about four months since my last review and about eight months since the real me was around. A friend of mine recently asked why I hadn’t written anything in a while and I told him it was because my job had sucked all of the humor from me. I thought that I just wanted to take a break for a while, but I realized that I was getting more pissed off as each day passed and I couldn’t think clearly about movies that I was watching. For example, I saw the “Clash of the Titans” remake. I know - I was fooled as well. That movie was begging for a roasting, but I just couldn’t get into the right mindset. But I’m happy to report that my job has taken a great turn for the better and a lot of the stress that had been piling on has melted away. Without further ado (and boring the crap out of you), here is review number 100.
First question – have you seen “Inception” yet? If you answered no to that question, my next question is – why not? “Inception” is the best movie of the year and nothing is going to change that. In fact, when taking all aspects of a film into consideration, it’s one of the best films of this decade. It has great music, visuals, dialogue, characters, flow, and, most importantly, story. Regardless of what you like in a movie, this film will satisfy you. And if you need any more motivation to see it, it’s the best mind-screw since “The Matrix.” If that’s not enough, you are not human.
Like “The Matrix,” “Inception” introduces a concept that makes you question reality. “The Matrix” had you considering that reality is really just a computer program designed to keep us docile. “Inception” follows a similar line (without robots harvesting us for energy) by trying to convince you that reality might just be a dream from which we never wake up. However, “Inception” does not give us a clear cut answer to the question in regards to the characters in the film.
The plot of the film is much more complicated than the previews made it seem. They teased us by describing people who are capable of stealing things from your mind – things like personal information, plans, or even bank account information. That is what our main character, Cobb, and his partner, Arthur, do for a living. Although, that is not what inception is, but rather the opposite. After failing to grab information from their mark, Saito, they are offered a job by Saito himself. The job is not to steal something, but to plant an idea into someone’s head – inception. The trick of inception, which is very carefully explained to us (because most moviegoers are morons), is that the mark must be fooled into thinking the idea is theirs. The idea they are trying to plant is generally meaningless to the audience as the real point of the watching is to see the how and this is where the film really gets interesting.
Cobb and Arthur put together a team consisting of themselves, an architect, a forger, and a chemist. The architect builds the world that makes up the dream, the forger pretends to be different people, and the chemist creates the concoctions needed to sedate them or wake them up, and also act as a kind of wheel man. In order to make everything work, they have to create dreams within dreams, diving deeper into their mark’s subconscious. On the surface, this doesn’t sound that dramatic, but what would dreams be without a little danger. In their case, the danger is in the form of the mark’s subconscious realizing there are intruders and attacking them and now we have a sense of urgency.
If you’ve followed all that prepare yourself because that isn’t even the part that screws with your head. Without even getting into how they have to wake themselves up, there are two more components that will scramble your brains. The first is that time moves slower for each dream with a dream. I don’t remember the exact numbers (they do tell us), five minutes in reality equals one hour in the first dream, which equals two days in the second dream, which equals three weeks in the third dream, which equals ten years in the fourth dream, and so on and so on. This bit of timing and parallel dreams creates lines of thinking you might not even be capable of. It also shows how extraordinary Christopher Nolan (writer, director, producer) is at putting something so complicated together without sacrificing continuity or quality. The dreams are transitioned through multiple times, not only to create a stunning set of scenes, but to help the viewers maintain a grasp of the different time flows in each dream.
The second component is that Cobb is unable to control his own psyche from inserting his dead wife, Mal, into the dreams. She is a constant distraction to him and puts them into even more danger as she is free to interfere with them. As the film goes on, we realize she plays a more important role in the philosophical question of the movie – is life just a dream?
Besides the plot, Nolan gives us several other cinematic treats. Owing back to “The Matrix,” the dreams don’t have to follow the rules of physics and can be affected by other dreams and realities, leading to some cleverly crafted scenes in which there is no gravity in one dream and avalanches in another. In addition, the architect can change things at will, leading to city blocks folding over on themselves and streets appearing out of nowhere. Not only is the presentation astounding, but it makes us think of our dreams in which we can do the impossible (like fly or breathe under water).
The overall format of the film is nothing we haven’t seen before. Again, like “The Matrix,” they start us off in what we think is reality, but reveal to us that it is the dream world. Then, they bring the entire team together, explain how everything works, perform some training, and then go back to the false reality to complete their mission. This is a fairly standard format for movies, but it always works as long as the rest of the components of the film are of high quality.
As proof that Nolan isn’t just lucky or trying to distract us with an intriguing idea, he wrote the characters nearly as perfect as possible. We care about them in proportion to their importance to the plot and the supporting characters never overpower the main characters. In this case, Cobb and Mal are the main characters, though Cobb is more important. This is emphasized by the fact that Mal is dead and is shown more frequently – and malevolent – as the film moves on. Helping build their importance is Ariadne, the architect. She is the outside observer to Cobb’s problem and is constantly pushing him towards a solution to his problem without elevating her own importance. This theme runs constant throughout the movie as all of the characters add depth to the story and to Cobb’s character.
One final thing to add to round out this film’s near perfection is the music, by whom else but Hans Zimmer. The music is powerful and brings about emotions whether you want them out or not. Plus, it adds to the tension and urgency and is a main ingredient in putting you on the edge of your seat for the last half of the film. It’s the kind of music that enables you to see the exact scene in the movie in your head just by hearing it.
I hope you weren’t expecting a really snarky review. If you were, stick around because “Inception” wasn’t only the movie I’ve seen in the last two weeks. “Inception” is just the best of them and I needed to write something positive for my return to reviewing. Fittingly, this film is about screwing with our minds and I’m happy to report that mine is screwed back on right.
Rating: Worth every penny and then some. You’ll just have to untwist your brain before you go back to see it again.