Day 97: Inception (2010)


Sometimes I think that I just like to be difficult. I order my salads with the dressing on the side, I don’t like raw onions but don’t mind them cooked, and, when I want to mix things up a bit, I try to use my left hand  instead of my right when I do menial tasks. See what I mean? Difficult. I also find myself liking movies that “everyone” hated and disliking films that I “should” adore (according to the critics and the general public).  I have tried to do a bit of self-analysis in an attempt to understand my deviation from mainstream’s perception of media. I wondered, were my expectations set too high for these “wonderful” films to reach? Or did I set myself up to dislike them because of some strange desire to be different? Essentially, I wanted to know if the problem lies with me or the films. After much consideration, I have decided it’s the films. It’s definitely the films.

 

The latest film to disappoint me was Inception. Many critics, magazines, and websites have named this film in their top movies of 2010 (and it tends to be ranked in the top five). So, right here, I should see a red flag telling me to stop writing what will not be a glowing review of the film. I mean, who am I compared to these top critics? I don’t have millions of readers or years of reviewing under my belt. However, I like to live life on the edge. Sometimes I order my nonfat almond milk latte with two Splendas instead of one (I know, I’m a wild child). So, at the risk of pissing off almost everyone who has seen the film, I will tell you what I thought about Inception.

 

Inception, directed by Christopher Nolan (Momento, The Dark Knight), stars Leonardo DiCaprio (Growing Pains, Shutter Island, Critters 3) as Cobb, a man who earns money by entering people’s dreams to steal their secrets. I should warn Cobb that if he ever tried to enter my dreams, he would have to face a lot of weird crap—namely dinosaurs or zombies or zombie dinosaurs. It just seems like a lot of work to steal my chocolate chip cookie recipe (hint—it’s on the bag of chocolate chips). Anyway, Cobb is hired by a rich businessman named Saito, Ken Watanabe (Cirque du Freak, The Last Samurai), to sneak into the mind of his competitor’s son (played by Cillian Murphy known for his work in 28 Days Later, Sunshine, and Disco Pigs) to plant the idea that he wants to give up rights to his father’s company. Cobb is joined by his team of kickass dream spies: Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt:), Eames (Tom Hardy), Yusuf (Dileep Rao), and Ariadne (Ellen Page). I am sure this begs the question of why do you need so many people to manipulate someone’s dream, but I forgot to mention two things: (1) it’s actually a dream within a dream within a dream (bitchin’), and (2) because just one person walking around in a suit would look weird– you need a posse.

 

Why in the world wouldn’t I just love, love, love a film like that? Let’s see, where do I begin?

 

Although the acting is phenomenal and the cast is flipping awesome, I just didn’t feel a connection to any of the characters. I actually had to look up their names when writing the synopsis, because none of them really stuck in my head. Any of the characters could have died, or been dreamed away to a land of dancing hippos in tutus, and I wouldn’t have cared. Wait– that’s a lie. I actually would like to see them with the dancing hippos. I understand that the events take place in a dream, therefore their “reality” isn’t “real,” but if I had an emotional attachment to at least one character, it would have made for a more engaging movie experience.

 

Also, I felt like the movie thought it was smarter than me (which, I admit isn’t always that hard), and it wanted to rub my nose in it. Yes, I will admit that the name Ariadne sounds cool; but I feel that it’s a bit heavy-handed to name the character who is in charge of creating the dream maze–or dream architect as they like to say in the film–after the mythological figure who helped Theseus make his way out of the Minotaur’s labyrinth (yes, I am also able to wikipedia stuff. It’s one of my many talents). In trying to put my finger on why this bothered me, I guess I found the tone of the film irritating.

 

[***Possible Spoiler Alert This Paragraph Only***] I know I have ranted about my theories on movie plot twists before—how a movie about con artists will eventually be one large con, or how a film about insanity likes to use the twist of the main character being as crazy as the Mad Hatter. I think the same can be said for a movie about dreams. I am not saying I am right (as I have only seen it once, not dozens of times), but I feel that any film about dreams can not be blindly trusted. Chances are, the entire thing was a dream. This alone doesn’t make it a bad movie; but from the first scenes of Inception, I felt like all the events were part of Cobb’s dream (so would that be a dream within a dream within a dream within a dream? Whoa—four levels. Double rainbow all the way across the sky). And, since I didn’t really have an attachment to his character, I lost interest fast.

[***End Spoiler Alert***]

 

Although certain parts of Inception annoyed the crap out of me, I thought that it was a aesthetically appealing film. I loved how the dream world could be manipulated (and would have liked to see that played with more). Most of the special effects were amazing– both conceptually and visually. Unlike some effects-heavy shows, the actors looked and acted natural in these crazy worlds. They made it seem as if they were actually in these spaces and interacting with their environment. Plus, some of the fight scenes were just wicked cool. This was quite different from my dreams, as I usually just run away.

 

I guess as I write this, I can’t help but think: am I being too harsh on Inception? I probably am, but I expected a lot more out of it. It is not a bad movie by any means, it’s just not great. I wanted to be blown away.

 

On a side note, I watched Inception with Rifftrax. I have to admit that this made the movie so much more enjoyable. Not only did I feel that it hilariously highlighted the absurdities in the film, but it helped with the pace. Without the commentary, I know I would have lost interest. The Rifftrax were just flipping amazing.

 

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day!

Score: C+

Score with Rifftrax: B+

Netflix Queue: 472


9 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Rachael

    i expected you to give it an F. lol…. yeah, keep telling yourself its the films. 😉

    Tough critic!

    February 23rd, 2011

  2. Megan

    Rachel– but it IS the films, right? 😉 I realize I was a lot harsher in the review than the score reflected, so I will take full credit for the post not being balanced in that respect. I actually didn’t hate the film, but I just didn’t love it as much as I thought I would. Perhaps I have issues handling disappointment.

    February 26th, 2011

  3. We saw INCEPTION in the theater, and I thought it was a bit “cold”… I loved Nolan’s previous several movies, but this one just didn’t have the heart, I thought.

    I will say that I did watch it again the other week, also with the RiffTrax commentary, and liked the film a bit more the second time. It was a lot funnier, of course, but I could also see how the plot was functioning better. The first time through they show you a lot of things like the top, etc, and several references to the train before letting you know what you’re looking at. once you know, the movie is a bit more cohesive.

    February 23rd, 2011

  4. Megan

    John- I totally agree with your reaction to the first time you saw Inception. It was hard for me to have an emotional connection with the characters (and I am fairly certain this wasn’t because of the funny commentary, because if they weren’t saying it, I would have been saying something similar). How many months passed between your first and second viewing of the film? I am willing to give it another go to see if my attitude towards it changes, but I definitely need a “waiting period” before I do.

    Jeremy- That is awesome:) I guess we can learn a lot from Scrooge McDuck & Co. 😀

    February 26th, 2011

  5. Jeremy S Freeman

    One of my friends posted this: http://things90skidsrealize.com/2010/12/13/77/

    Timely.

    February 25th, 2011

  6. Dave S

    You mean you didn’t want it as the director intended, and added your own soundtrack with RiffTrax THEN gave it a less than favorable review? IDK you wanted to be blown away by it but set yourself up to not get full immersed. Thats like turning on God mode in a video game blowing through it then saying the game sucked.

    February 26th, 2011

  7. Megan

    Dave- First, video games rarely suck in God mode. I actually like the option to quickly plow through a game I already played–only with the bonus of pretending I am actually good at it 😉 However, I think you bring up a fair point about my review.
    I have to agree that, yes, Rifftrax altered the film from its originally intended form (although the same could be said for the fact that I saw the movie in DVD format on a 24 inch monitor). But, often Rifftrax commentary does not make me like a film less. For example, I love both the original and Riffed versions of the Harry Potter films, because sometimes the movies are silly (I know, this is hard to believe when I find myself rooting for the Hufflepuff house to win a Quidditch match at Hogwarts) and the commentary says what I would occasionally think. I should point out that while, admittedly, my review may have pointed out all the issues I had with the movie, I actually “passed” the film with a C+. Most of the issues I had with Inception were due to the plot and the lack of connection I had with the characters. While the commentary track may have contributed to my reaction to the film, I can’t say that it was the only reason I felt a disconnect to it. Perhaps, as John pointed out, the movie may warrant a second viewing to see if I have the same reaction, but at this point, I have a hard time placing the movie in my “Best of 2010” list (hmmm, not that I have a list;) ).
    Thanks for reading and your feedback! :)

    February 26th, 2011

  8. While I certainly didn’t dislike the film, I really think it’s pretty average. I certainly loved some of the concepts, but found the set design to be fairly boring, and there really wasn’t enough ‘oh cool, we’re in a dream’ stuff to make up for it. Also, I thought the ending was a huge let down. I feel like we were watching a con movie where instead of finding out whether or not they got the gold, we found out that the lead character might or might not have a drinking problem.
    I did really like some of the dream within a dream back and forth cuts, though I don’t think they really stuck to their own time differences.

    February 26th, 2011

  9. Megan

    anakin78z- I also wanted more of that “cool dream stuff” in the film. I know I expected a lot out of the movie based on the trailer, cast, and the concept, but I was just “OK” with the final result. Also, I too, found the dream within a dream cuts to be amazing. I really enjoyed how the movie dealt with time– and the time differences between the “real” and “dream” world. Those sequences were way cool.

    February 26th, 2011

Reply to “Day 97: Inception (2010)”