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 with Rifftrax: B+
Netflix Queue: 472