Spoiler-free thoughts on ‘INCEPTION’
This article was posted by Bill McMullen 2 years, 10 months, 1 week, 1 Day, 18 hours, 29 minutes ago.
This film delivered something that I hadn’t felt for a while - a complete and consistent story that worked well, unfolding before you, offering fantastical turns that still work within the rules of its world, or at least work well enough to allow you to forgive the holes or contradictions. It’s a more organic Matrix, using dream states, sedative drugs, and a military-designed mystery machine to reach ‘virtual’ worlds - likely the way this sort of direct mind exploration could actually happen, and outdating methods we saw in The Matrix for me - dripping green type and a physical receptor at the base of the neck seem so quant now, and relatively unrealistic compared to Inception‘s methods.
The clever use of compounding factors of time the deeper one gets into the dreams, and that one of the characters was named ‘Eames’ made me sense a nod to the Charles and Ray Eames film Powers of Ten, but there were lots of great influences that were subtle and not banging us in the face with the obvious (like LOST always seemed to be doing). Some theory of reletivity in there, lots of architecture porn, Fassbinder’s World on A Wire, the cold cynicism of William S. Burroughs or Ballard, the slipping paranoia of Philip K. Dick (a friend just reminded me Inception owes a lot to Total Recall, the Verhoeven film based on Dick’s short story), some Frank Lloyd-Wright influence on several interiors, tough and timely visits to some of great cities of the world, allusions to the great public community projects and buildings like London’s Barbican or maybe even a little Brasília in there, as well as the video game action that I remember fondly from classics like Metal Gear Solid and GoldenEye... Lots of well-rounded influences were present. There’s a little bit too much exposition with dialog; likely going to get annoying when I see it again… But there were some rules that needed to be explained to the viewer, so I concede the necessity of the exposition. Small price to pay. The (relatively) sophisticated, pulled-back nature of the sci-fi reminded me of the nondescript timeframe of Gattica or even some of the non-action of William Gibson’s book Mona Lisa Overdrive.
But there was plenty of action. Despite the fantastical nature of the story, the movie reaches a fairly ‘realistic’ look in fight sequences and explorations of its environments that gets you believing that watching an “effects-driven film” doesn’t have to mean that’s a bad thing. There are some moments that put pure visual overload over substance, some Escher-esque visual gags that really only work for us, the audience, due to our camera angle. But visually it’s awesome. What I really liked is how scenes that are obviously not real still look very natural, with sunlight and haze and lighting that kept me believing in what I was seeing.
Also fairly ‘realistic’ was the sound - I didn’t really notice a lot of unnecessary juicing, sub-bass cues or goofy ProTools tricks when bullets were fired or fists were flying. Stark and vérité in the sound mix.
And in the biggest and most unexpected surprise of the night, Leo DiCaprio was excellent. Really kept his acting chops in order and there wasn’t an eye-roller of a scene for me in the entire film.
I went a little long here, pouring all this out, and I apologize… but I’m still trying to get my head around what I saw. It’s a definitive film, very ambitious, much the way Matrix was. It’s a little more low-key than Matrix (there’s no thumping techno or patent leather) and certainly not as sugared with guns and sunglasses. Comparisons are inevitable but I like them both. Inception is just a little more mature, a really great sci-fi film that evolves those ideas of the ‘virtual’ worlds somewhere in our future.
Could be director Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece. See it and let’s talk.
© Bill McMullen & 12ozProphet - Saturday July 17, 2010