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Matrix but in dreamworld? Nah.
Simon Bradley22 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I'd like to keep my review rather to the point.

Pros: 1. its theme - dream is a fascinating topic to say the least. There are a lot of unknowns in dreamworld.

2. its plot - there are several sweet twists and unpredictable turns.

3. its edgy drive - although you know what's coming next, still you feel jumpy about it when it does.

4. its rapid storyline - the story moves fast from one scene to another, making the viewers feel like on a roller coaster ride. At times, it's hard to keep up, even after watching it several times.

5. its sophistication - there is a lot of information to remember and digest. This is the very thing the modern moviegoers are after, I believe.

6. its realism - okay, pun intended. The movie explains (or at least tries to) the ins and outs of what dream is about and how it functions, some of which are very familiar with and dear to us.

Cons: 1. its poor character development - although the acting was convincing enough there was not enough of character development. I wonder how many people really felt connected to the main character(s) after watching the movie. Yes, the movie talks about emotional struggles but it was more of an action film than anything else, if you ask me.

2. too many distractions - I found that the movie had more characters than necessary. They may play certain roles in the plot but they seemed more of distractions than anything else. I wish the movie was more focused.

3. a bit preachy - I noticed that the characters would explain things about dreamworld and then the exact things happen later in the movie. I'm afraid, Inception overused this trick.

In conclusion, its theme is fascinating but its delivery is not without room for improvement.

I highly recommend you to go and read Somewhere carnal over 40 winks, if you dig this kind of flicks.

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Inception has a lot of ideas and it doesn't do anything with them
Ivan Hoe20 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I cannot ignore facts. I cannot ignore mistakes and plot holes, bad writing, or bad marketing. I cannot ignore hype, especially when it's already on the IMDb top 250, it received praise from critics, cashed in a lot of money, and people call it stunning and unforgettable. The simple truth is that Inception does not live up to the hype. Let me start with the trailer. All the coolest things (the folding city, the collapsing cliffs, the train in the street) are totally unessential to the plot. None of that takes more than a few seconds. So why did they put them on all the posters as well? Nevermind. I'll move on to the real problems of the movie.

So I heard all these people saying how complex the movie is. How I'll need to watch it twice. How the shocking ending will blow my mind. I knew exactly what that "shocking ending" would be half way through the film. The very last paragraph of this review deals with the ending. It's not exactly a spoiler but you can skip it if you don't want to know anything.

Cobb (DiCaprio) takes on a mission to implant a thought into Fischer's (Murphy) mind. As a reward, his contractor Saito (Watanabe) will clean his record with the LAPD. Cobb is wanted for the murder of his wife and consequently he can't return to USA and see his children. Throughout the movie, this is Cobb's main inner conflict, that before he fled the country, he didn't get a chance to see the kids' faces and he wants to see them again. Michael Cain has a very small role as their grandpa and DiCaprio's father-in-law. Why doesn't Cain take the kids someplace so they could be with their father? People move all the time. Or why doesn't he send Cobb some home movies if he wants to see their faces so much? They could even have video calls and all that stuff. It's a long distance relationship but it's something. Well, apparently no one thought of that, and so the main character's main motivation for his actions makes no sense.

As for acting, DiCaprio was good. But if you've seen Shutter Island, You've seen a third of Inception. Dead wife, small kids, a sense of loss, a pretty wooden house in a field, all those flashbacks Teddy had in Shutter Island… it's all in Inception. Minus the funny Boston accent.

The mission these mind thieves embark on is to plant an idea into a rich guy's mind. This is called inception. Hence the title, I guess. Everyone says it's impossible to do, so you know they are going to succeed in the end. Inception is essentially a heist movie, but instead of getting into a vault, Cobb's team has to get inside someone's mind – which happens to look like a vault. The supposed complexity of the movie boils down to the idea of a dream within a dream. Basically, imagine that once you are plugged inside the matrix, you plug yourself into yet another, deeper, matrix. There, I just explained the super complex plot of the movie. But in case that wasn't enough, there is Ellen page's character, Ariadne. She is the obligatory new member of the team that is introduced to represent the audience and their questions. I'm fine with that. Every movie has one of those uninitiated people. The thing is, she understands everything too quickly and becomes suddenly becomes the most competent character. Pretty convenient, if you ask me.

Let me finally get to the mission. It's the worst part of the movie. Watanabe wants Murphy, who just inherited a huge corporation, to dissolve it, because it was going to become a huge monopoly. So Watanabe hires DiCaprio to plant the idea of splitting the company in Murphy's mind. And so they do that. For two and a half hours. But I don't care if he splits the big company or not. Why should I care if Murphy has a bigger company than Watanabe? The stakes of the movie aren't high, they are nonexistent. I am not given any reason to care about whether or not they succeed. I'm only given more and more action set pieces to look forward to, and a lot of cool slow motion and zero gravity fights reminiscent of The Matrix, but I'm not given any reason to care for what is happening. I liked Watanabe's character only because I like Ken Watanbe. As for Saito himself, I don't give a damn if his competitor destroys his company or not. They don't tell us what consequences it would have, they don't show us what happens with the company, they don't do anything with this initial idea. Which is strange, because the movie is all about ideas being important.

Okay, so I didn't like the plot and the acting was nothing new. What about the rest? Hans Zimmer's unremarkable score works well with the scenes but it would be super boring to hear on its own. The visual effects are good but since all the coolest city-folding scenes were so short, there wasn't really that much to do. The zero gravity stuff was done well, I'll give them that. Cinematography was good, bordering on too much shaky camera.

Here's the paragraph about the ending:

The big ending is that you are supposed to be unsure what was a dream and what was reality. If it was real, then it's stupid because DiCaprio had dozens of ways to be with his kids without making things so incredibly complicated. The movie is supposed to make you think, but if you think about it the whole plot falls apart. If it was a dream, then it's a stupid cop out on Nolan's part. An excuse for all the things that didn't make sense. It was all a dream, so screw you, audience.
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Good idea lost in the noise
Carl_Tait25 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The central idea of "Inception" is an interesting one: technology exists to enter other people's dreams in order to steal their most private secrets or to implant new ideas. With Christopher Nolan of "Memento" fame as writer and director, this should have been a smart, compelling movie. Unfortunately, "Inception" is a bloated failure.

The root problem is that Nolan replaces the fascinating surrealism of dream worlds with lengthy outtakes from James Bond movies. For example, early in the film, when Cobb and Ariadne are sitting at a café in a dream world, Cobb tells Ariadne to stay calm. What's going to happen? Is the waiter going to bring her a glass full of wriggling eyeballs? Is she going to turn around and see her best friend from high school having sex with Abraham Lincoln? No. THINGS START EXPLODING. And that's the whole movie in a nutshell: gaudy special effects and endless fight scenes as a poor substitute for imaginative ideas.

The matryoshka-doll plot of dreams within dreams isn't nearly as hard to follow as one might imagine. This is largely because nothing of consequence happens at higher levels once our heroes have moved on to deeper levels. The higher-level supporting actors just fight off bad guys -- and overblown special effects -- until it's time to bring back their colleagues from the depths.

Nolan should sit back, watch a few of the best movies by Luis Bunuel and David Lynch, and try again with one-tenth the budget and ten times the imagination. (Okay, that's never gonna happen, but it's *my* dream.)
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Insanely Brilliant ! Nolan has outdone himself !!
Naman Kapur10 July 2010
What is the most resilient parasite? An Idea! Yes, Nolan has created something with his unbelievably, incredibly and god- gifted mind which will blow the minds of the audience away. The world premiere of the movie, directed by Hollywood's most inventive dreamers, was shown in London and has already got top notch reviews worldwide and has scored maximum points! Now the question arises what the movie has that it deserve all this?

Dom Cobb(Di Caprio) is an extractor who is paid to invade the dreams of various business tycoons and steal their top secret ideas. Cobb robs forcefully the psyche with practiced skill, though he's increasingly haunted by the memory of his late wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard), who has a nasty habit of showing up in his subconscious and wreaking havoc on his missions. Cobb had been involved so much in his heist work that he had lost his love!

But then, as fate had decided, a wealthy business man Saito( Ken Watanabe) hands over the responsibility of dissolving the empire of his business rival Robert Fischer Jr.(Cillian Murphy). But this time his job was not to steal the idea but to plant a new one: 'Inception'

Then what happens is the classic heist movie tradition. To carry out the the task, Cobb's 'brainiac' specialists team up again with him, Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), his longtime organizer; Tom Hardy (Eames), a "forger" who can shapeshift at will; and Yusuf (Dileep Rao), a powerful sedative supplier.

There is only one word to describe the cinematography, the set designs and the special effects, and that is Exceptional! You don't just watch the scenes happening, you feel them. The movie is a real thrill ride. The action scenes are well picturised and the music by Hans Zimmer is electronically haunting. Never, in the runtime of the movie, you will get a chance to move your eyes from the screen to any other object.

Leonardo, who is still popularly known for Jack Dawson played by him in Titanic, should be relieved as his role as Dom Cobb will be remembered forever. His performance may or may not fetch him an Oscar but it will be his finest performance till date. The supporting cast too did an extraordinary work. Christopher Nolan, ah! what a man he is. His work is nothing less than a masterpiece and he deserves all the awards in the 'Best Director' category. If "Inception" is a metaphysical puzzle, it's also a metaphorical one: It's hard not to draw connections between Cobb's dream-weaving and Nolan's film making, intended to seduce us, mess with our heads and leave an ever-lasting impression.

To conclude, I would just say before your life ends, do yourself a favor by experiencing this exceptionally lucid classic created by Nolan!

My Rating: 10/10

Thanks & Regards
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Overrated because it makes people "feel" smart...
mreesesh4 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Christopher Nolan has done some great work.

His ideas and direction singlehandedly gave new life to the beloved superhero Batman.

While the film Dark Knight will always be recognized to the new dimensions it added to the classic Batman series of movies and comics, Inception was nothing more than a dull and linear plot, surrounded by and an even duller and more linear plot.

The centerpiece of this movie was supposed to be its convoluted storyline which was scattered across multiple levels, in essence puzzle that forces the viewer to think through the movie and decipher the ending.

The concept of "levels" and or "interconnected plots" worked very well for such great films such as the Matrix, 2001 A Space Odyssey, Logan's Run, or Total Recall. Inception not only miserably fails at this but it also lacks in other places as well.

-Characters: Great actors, whom have all done great work in many movies spanning decades. However the characters in this movie came off as neutered eunuchs who lacked sense, emotion, and any sort of cohesiveness. (Sir Michael Caine and Tom Berenger's performances were appalling and the "team" of dreamers lacked screen dynamics and chemistry.)

-Action: For a dream world, the action in this movie is very unimaginative and is well within the typical Hollywood bounds. Car cash scenes where the heroes drive and shoot, building shootouts, and melodramatic bullet wounds (as always one character is wounded critically, the team must save him; however the character can still "fight".)

-Plot: This movie could have easily been over within 1 hour of rolling. Not only was Inception's "puzzle ending" blatantly obvious 40 mins into the film, but the storyline it self lacked any substance or draw. The overly complicated "puzzle piece" effect which Nolan was trying to achieve, was nothing more than the main story line being surrounded by excessive fluff and whimsical bullplop.

*I will credit the movie with one notable mention. Nolan managed to work a Matrix style fight scene (which have been overdone by Hollywood since the early 2000s) into the small confines of an elevator.

In the ending, Inception is not the great rave that many make it out to be. While the movie takes place in a "dream world", where bounds are limitless, the movie itself is sterile, cliché, repetitive, and unimaginative. This is even further compounded by one dimensional characters, and a drawn out storyline that pretends to be an enigma.

Perhaps Christopher Nolan's true intent was to make a sterile and lack luster movie aimed strictly at making today's self-absorbed and obtuse Facebook-hipster generation feel "smart".

Inception can be compared to a class presentation where the student is unprepared. To hide this, the student uses convoluted and circular logic to stammer through the presentation and pass the time. It is obvious that the student knows nothing and has wasted several minutes talking about a subject that could have been explained in seconds. Nonetheless, since the student used "big words", talked excessively, and is deemed to be in the "mainstream" the class gives a standing ovation regardless...
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One of the most overrated films ever! The most un-dreamlike film about dreams I've ever seen!
NateManD2 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
What do David Lynch, Luis Bunuel and Wes Craven have in common? They have all created far superior films about dreams on a fraction of Christopher Nolan's budget. For a film about dreams everything looks so dull and drained of color. Inception never feels surreal like a dream. It feels like ridiculous PG-13 action sequences strung together by character's explaining it's all a dream within a dream etc. When watching this film, I thought of far superior films about dreams and alternate realities, Bunuel and Dali's "Un Chien Andalou" (1929), "The Blood of a Poet" (1930), "The Wizard of Oz" (1939), Hitchcock's "Spellbound" (1946), "Meshes of the Afternoon" (1947), Dr. Sues' "5,000 Fingers of Dr. T" (1953), "Le Jetee" (1962), Fellini's "8 1/2" (1963), "Kingdom of Crooked Mirrors" (1963) Fellini's, "Juliet of the Spirits" (1966), "Who Wants to Kill Jesse" (1966), "Valerie and her Week of Wonders" (1970), "Viva La Muerte" (1970), "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" (1972), Tarkovsky's "Solaris" (1972), "The Hourglass Sanitorium" (1973), "Eraserhead" (1977) "Altered States" (1980), "Time Bandits" (1981), Pink Floyd's "The Wall" (1982), "Forbidden Zone" (1982) "Videodrome" (1983), "A Nightmare on Elmstreet" (1984), "Dreamscape"(1984), "Brazil" (1985), "Paperhouse" (1988), The B-movie "Beyond Dreams Door" (1989), "Santa Sangre" (1989), "Jacob's Ladder" (1990), "Kurosawa's Dreams" (1990) "Total Recall" (1990), "Naked Lunch" (1991), "Arizona Dream" (1993), John Carpenter's "In the Mouth of Madness" (1995), "12 Monkeys" (1995),"City of Lost Children" (1995), "Lost Highway" (1997), "Dark City" (1998), "The Matrix" (1999), "eXistenZ" (1999), "Being John Malkovich" (1999), "The Cell" (2000), "Waking Life" (2001), "Donnie Darko" (2001), "Muholland Drive" (2001), "Demon Lover" (2002), "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (2004), "Strange Circus" (2005), "The Fall" (2006), "The Science of Sleep" (2006), "Pan's Labrynth" (2006), "Paprika" (2006) and the list goes on and on and on. 100's of French and Asian films; hell, even the "Nightmare on Elmstreet" sequels.

In "Inception" Leonardo Dicaprio plays Dom Cobb, a dream thief who can enter people's dreams and steal top secret information. Like his character in "Shutter Island" (which had better dream sequences) Leo is obsessed with his dead wife and longs to go home to see his kids. He's given a mission by a corporate boss to enter a rival's dream and implant false information. By completing this mission, he'll be able to go home to his kids. Dom hires an architect played by Ellen Page to create false dream worlds. Then there's his agents, who are one dimensional rip offs of characters from "The Matrix" (A far more entertaining film) For a film about dreams, you'd expect a little Fruedian sex or nudity. Oh no we don't want are dreams to go beyond a mass-marketed PG-13 rating. Or how about at least abstract surrealism or stream of consciousness dialog? Instead we have all the character's taking time out to explain everything to Hans Zimmer's overblown music. In the words of Ariadne "Wait, Who's subconscious are we going through exactly?". That's odd, a shootout on skis, "James Bond" style and Look I'm floating like in "The Matrix" (Lets not get to bizarre or fun) Maybe, I'm being critical, because I'm by no means a fan of Christopher Nolan. "Momento" and "The Dark Night" were good films, but should never be mentioned in the same breath as HItchcock or Kubrick. People really anger me comparing Inception to "Blade Runner", or "2001, A Space Odyssey". Even "Avatar" had more heart and soul than "Inception". In "Avatar", I actually cared about the characters and felt like I was in a different world. In this film how am I supposed to care for rich corporate suits who want to steal secrets. How about having an Exxon executive jumping in the dreams of a BP executive? If it's all a dream within a dream within a dream of one dimensional Hollywood characters, why should the audience care? And why take 150 mins. to tell a story, when it could of been done in less than 2 hrs.?

On one note, the special effects were impressive and the film did have great acting. I think this film could of been good if it was more colorful and dreamlike and maybe 45 mins. shorter. "Inception" fell cold and flat of having a heart and soul. Why do films now look gray, poo brown or washed out in color? Movies used to be so much brighter. Compare this film to "Suspiria" (1977), "What Dreams may Come" and "Edward Scissorhands" and you'll see what I mean. Spending $200 million dollars on a film that could of fed a 3rd world country for 10 years, is more of a nightmare than a dream. All that money spent and it still looks visually boring, artless and dull. As a person who practically makes minimum wage and lives off Ramen noodles, I watch sci-fi and fantasy films for an escape. Why would I care about a rich corporate rival who has a bad relationship with his father? Boo-hoo! In the end I felt like I was viewing the unimaginative dreams of Wall Street brokers. This is a film made by a room fool of people, rather than an artist with a vision. A mass marketed product like fast food, masquerading itself as nutrition. For this film to be in IMDb's top 5 is a joke; this is mediocre at best. People are saying that this is better than "The Wizard of Oz", "Pulp Fiction", "Blue Velvet" or Citizen Kane". I must be dreaming, no I kicked myself and this is for real.
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seabrapalma24 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I will try not to repeat some of what others have so brilliantly written in some reviews. I just add this in order to contradict the hype that has allowed this movie to be ranked so high in IMDb. The same has been happening with other movies, and that is a shame for IMDb, which is becoming unreliable.

I want to stress the fact that the only complexity in this movie is trying to figure out how you can invest so much money in a script that continuously makes a fool of the average critic intelligent viewer! The story is not complex. It is deliberately confusing in order to conceal its stupidity. Nothing that really matters is explained in the movie.

And there's so many embarrassing clichés (the recruiting of the team, the episode in Mombassa, the assault of the ice fortress, many of the action sequences)... the average viewer must be disappointed!

And the dreams - which serve as the scenario to most of the movie - are populated by the utmost lack of imagination.

Finally, there's the score, louder and louder, building a suspense that is never there, for everything is a dream, and we do not quite catch what there is exactly that can go wrong...

Well, all in all, the movie is an insult to the average intelligent viewer and, having been directed by Christopher Nolan, an ultimate disappointment.
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"9 out of 10"...Are you actually serious right now?
deep-in-silence13 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Just to start off, I read about 20 pages of reviews of this movie and had a few things of my own to add. I actually had to register to IMDb so I can explain why this movie is so bad. Seeing that this piece of garbage is rated 9 out of 10 made me wanna vomit. But enough about that, let's get to the serious issues with this movie.

1: Leonardo DiCaprio has not changed his role for the last 5 years. Am I the only one that notices this? He always plays some guy that has deep seated emotional issues relating to the loss of a loved one. Can he play anything else besides the loner that lost the love of his life and now has psychological scars that go so deep they hit the street he's standing on?

2: Why didn't they shoot his stupid wife anytime she showed up? He wasn't the only guy on the team that knew she was out to mess things up. Why not say, "Hey guys, if you see my wife shoot her because she's going to get us all killed. She's not real and is already dead, so go ahead and blow her away so we can get back to work."?

3: The dream world was the dullest I have ever seen. "Oh man...M.C. Escher stairs, a train driving down the street, buildings that go sideways and upside down..." That's all they could come up with? "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" was more imaginative than the supposed "dream-world". I'm pretty sure most dreams have more random stuff than that happen in them. Where's the off-the-wall imagination? I don't think anyone that says they had "the weirdest dream" explains it as, "Well the world was the same, but a train showed up." "And?" "That's it. Everything else was completely normal." Weak.

4: If I wanted to watch "Call of Duty," I'd play the game. All of the shoot-out scenes looked like they were taken from "Game Informer" magazine screen shots.

5: How come when they went to Limbo, it was in DiCaprio's mind? Can anyone explain that? Is there just one Limbo that in all this movie world's history of dream exploration, but only he and his stupid wife got to and did stuff in? Or was his team (two of whom knew how messed up in the head he was) too dumb to say, "Why don't we keep you out of this and go into someone else's head just in case this turns out badly?".

6: As far as 9 out of 10, (really folks?) go watch "Citizen Kane," "Lawrence of Arabia," or even "The Dark Crystal" if you want a good movie that can stand-up to even the most mediocre critical observation.
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Inception; Christopher Nolan's masterpiece?
siddhantadlakha15 July 2010
Dom Cobb leads a highly skilled team, specializing in stealing secrets from people's minds by entering their dreams. When they are hired by a mysterious businessman, Cobb finally has a shot at redemption, but not before achieving the near impossible. Rather than stealing an idea, they must do the complete opposite: Inception. Planting the seed of an idea.

Inception has a multi-layered plot, quite literally in fact. It focuses on the emotional journey of its lead character, Cobb, but at the same time thrusts the audience into multiple levels of action packed story- telling, very distinct from one another, but all finely connected. It has been described by critics as "a film that rewards intellect", and I can assure you that it is exactly that. Director Christopher Nolan challenges the audience to keep up, and rewards those who can with a breathtaking spectacle, one that has the capability to leave you awestruck. The best part about it is that while you may feel you need to watch it again to be able to fully absorb the experience, chances are, you will probably want to.

Christopher Nolan brings his unique vision to the screen with the help of a star-studded cast, including the likes of Leonardo Dicaprio (The Departed), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (500 Days Of Summer), Ellen Page (Juno), Marion Cotillard (Public Enemies), Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins), and Michael Caine (The Dark Knight), as well some amazing photography by long time collaborator Wally Pfister. The thrilling music in the film is provided by none other than Hans Zimmer, who was also set the mood for Nolan's previous film, The Dark Knight.

While it may seem simple at its outset, Inception is an extremely complex film, delving deep into the subconscious of the human mind. Technical brilliance and visual splendor have rarely blended together as beautifully. The emotional depth and explosive action complement each other perfectly, delivering a film that is at the same time both heart- wrenching and heart-pounding. It's a film that manages to engross you with its complexities, yet comes together seamlessly, and will have you at the edge of your seat, quite literally from start to finish.

Inception is magnificent.
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You are not as stupid as Christopher Nolan thinks you are.
Egg_MacGuffin19 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Unless you call this movie a masterpiece. Then you are.

Damn 1,000 word limit. Gotta make this quick.


The film is 2.5 hours long, yet feels like 5.2, and there are a few reasons for this. One of which is the fact that a preponderance of the first act is amateurish, conflict-free exposition, which does not bode well for repeat viewings.

The "learning about the dream world" scene is atrocious. No conflict. Both Leo and Page's characters already knew what was being explained. The similar "learning about the matrix" scene in The Matrix did it right by having one character not know anything. Plus, there was conflict. Neo gets his ass kicked and fails to make the building jump. Much more entertaining.

There's another problem with the whole section of bending the landscape where Leo explains the negative aspects of altering the dream world. The closest we get to seeing the dream world altered was Leo becoming Mr. Charlie, yet the most that happens then is a bunch of extras turn and look at Leo. That's it. The idea was not exploited. You literally have to go out of your way to miss that opportunity. Hell, that Mr. Charles scene is shorter than the scene that explains why altering the dream world is bad!

Let's not forget this whole idea of one corporation one-upping another has absolutely no personal ramifications for anyone on screen or in the audience. It would have greatly amped up the internal conflict if Leo had to struggle with the notion that helping the guy who could help him would endanger someone else close to him, or us, or someone else. ANYTHING could have worked better than an energy contract that means less to me than my neighbor's bath mat. Come on.

The totems were handled very poorly. All we need to know is their purpose. We don't need to know anything else, yet the film keeps piling on needless information.

If this is a heist film, where is the threat of being caught?

A van falls for an endless amount of time. Joseph Gordon-Levitt floats bodies down a hallway for half an hour, real-time. The guy from Bronson does his thing, whatever the hell that was. These are not complex tasks or events, but rather straight-forward in nature. Dragging them out for a solid chunk of the film is what creates the glacial pace and makes a long film seem even longer.

Inception has no real villain. You can make a case for Cotillard, but she is an internal enemy. She never takes a "physical" presence and never threatens anyone except Leo. Everyone else is dealing with faceless assassins. That makes it feel distant from the rest of the action. It doesn't even have anything to do, emotionally, with Leo's goal of getting home to see his kids. None of this is tied together. Leo didn't even know what the hell was going on with Cillian and never even knew of the outcome until after the fact. He's separated from the physical manifestation of his goal for a majority of the film. I ended up not caring if the plan succeeded. If it was all somehow tied together, the audience would be able to experience that great emotional catharsis that everyone was talking about...but that didn't happen.

In fact, Leo is so separated from the actual plot that you can literally put Levitt in his place and not even need the hero in the dream world at all! Hell, you can even put Page there, since all she does after designing the boring and lifeless dream worlds is hang out with the guys and tell Leo he's crazy. I really wish she had something else to do besides play the part of the fifth wheel.

Leo's lack of involvement in the main action of the story creates a 'so what?' moment when the problem is solved for him, and I can think of absolutely no reason why the hero should not be the one to conquer the main conflict. Brody kills the shark in Jaws. He doesn't send Hooper and Quint out to do his dirty work while he stays behind to deal with his fear of water. It's integrated. The hero is forced into dealing with the physical, and in turn, but learn to conquer his internal fears before he can conquer his external opponent. This is Screen writing 101, Lesson 1, and Nolan got that wrong. That's why I don't believe the reports that he spent 10 years writing the script since it only took me 148 minutes to figure out exactly what was wrong with it.

Not to mention the conceit that to enter someone else's dream and control it means that you would have to control your own subconscious, which they state elsewhere is impossible. Way to go, genius.

Pretty much everything this film does wrong, The Matrix does right. Watch that instead.

PS: The 'taking a scene from the middle and putting it at the beginning' gag reached its peak effectiveness in 2002 and has absolutely no place in modern films. It's getting as bad as that tired old 'It's all a dream' scenario. Oh, wait...
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Too much....WAY too much
jgeorge425 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
What is going on with the IMDb user reviews lately? It's like the masses can no longer be trusted. In the last month, the users have decreed "Airbender" the worst abomination ever, when in fact it's just an average movie. User reviews raved over "Despicable Me", when it was about as entertaining as a "Dexter's Lab" rerun. And now? "Inception" is the 3rd best movie ever made? Are you kidding me? This was a very creative and interesting flick that went waaaayyy overboard. The problem with this genre (you know the genre -- was it a dream? or a dream about a dream? or a parallel universe where people dream they're dreaming about parallel universes while pretending to dream) is sooner or later you stop caring about the actual action because it's a dream. So the 20 minutes spent watching gunfights and car crashes in the pouring rain, and the 30 minutes spent watching these guys shoot up a ski fortress, and another 30 minutes watching what's-his-name float around a hotel just didn't do it for me. Not a terrible movie, but 3rd greatest movie ever? You must be dreaming.
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Incredibly Overrated!!!
Sanyi19841 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Well, first of all, I have to absolutely clearly admit that I'm writing this review to lower the rating of this movie, since it was one of the biggest movie disappointments of my life. Currently 9.1 for this thing is unbelievably high. But I guess I get why the rating of this movie is so high. It makes the people feel good about themselves because they understood the "complicated" plot. Yes, thats it! Inception actually managed to plant the idea to the people that it was a good movie. At best its an average action movie with too long boring action scenes with the "added value" of a "smart" story. However the story is not smart at all. Its about people that somehow are able to get into people's dreams and do stuff there, or even go to dreams in dreams, and dreams in dreams in dreams, and limbo... Wow, you get it? You are really smart, and should rate this movie 10!!! But seriously, this story is really stupid. Why should I care that the Japanese guy wants to destroy the other guy's (the scarecrow from Batman) company? How did the architect girl become expert on dreams and psychology after two dream sessions? How are they even able to get into the dreams? I guess the acting overall is not bad, but who cares if the plot is so annoying. And finally, the twist at the end is really predictable. Yay, the spinning thing stops to spin: he might be dreaming! Really original. You might say that I did not get the message of the movie. Well, I did get it, but it was too stupid to care about it.
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In a Decade, "Inception" May Be A Religion
D_Burke13 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Films about dreams and the subconscious are usually not very straightforward and almost always weird. "Inception" is no exception to that rule, but like its cinematic predecessors who have explored the contrast between and the questions of what is real and what is illusion (i.e. "The Matrix" (1999), "The Cell" (2000), "Abre Los Ojos" (1997) & its American remake "Vanilla Sky" (2001)), you really can't look away, nor should you.

"Inception" is an excellent and breathtaking movie that may be one of the only films released so far during the Summer of 2010 that lives up to its hype. It is a nearly perfect and highly original film that holds your attention until the credits roll. The less you know about this movie going in, the more you will be entranced by seeing it.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, a world class criminal who, with the help of a team of sleep experts, works his way into people's subconscious and steals what people value most: ideas directly from their minds. In his last assignment to possibly clear his name, he is assigned not to steal an idea from someone, but to plant one inside that person's mind. The difficulty comes when certain people are trained to block their ideas from being taken.

That plot summary only covers the basics of this pretty complicated story, but to describe every plot detail would take away the magic of this film you must see yourself to believe. DiCaprio is good in his role, but unlike many other films he has starred in, this is perhaps his only role where his character alone does not carry the weight of the movie on his shoulders or share it equally with one other co-star. Instead, this great ensemble cast teams together to make this movie work, just as their characters collaborate to pull off such a unique heist. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, and Tom Hardy are especially good in their roles.

The special effects in this film were also very good, which is amazing considering their simplicity compared to the "Matrix" movies. There are slow-motion shots, but no impossible kung fu fighting sequences. It's especially interesting when the film gets into the architecture of certain dreams, and impossible sequences are filmed in a way I've never seen other than in drawings.

However, the special effects would mean nothing if the story wasn't good. For this reason, even something as simple as a spinning top holds your attention in a way you would never think it would when seeing it in this film. The credit here can be given to writer and director Christopher Nolan, who has not made a bad film yet. There are many twists and turns in this film, but Nolan never loses his focus in the process of telling the story. If Nolan does not get nominated for Best Director and/or Best Original Screenplay next Oscar season, there is something terribly wrong with the Academy.

That being said, there was still a lot about this film I still don't get, and may require multiple viewings to better understand. However, some of the best films I've seen are confusing at first. "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968) is a film I've seen a couple of times, and still don't understand completely. It still has a major following, though, as I'm positive this movie will. It's an incredibly entertaining movie, but it also makes you think and continues to do so after you leave the theater.
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Lost in its own complexities
agreaves-8-15159223 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
A visual Tour De Force that gets lost in its own complex world, Inception stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Dom Cobb; a rogue 'extractor' who steals elements of dreams and sells them to the highest bidder, all in the name of corporate espionage. But things start to go drastically wrong when Cobb takes on a seemingly impossible job and his dead wife turns up to make trouble.

Ingenious but convoluted, Inception may not be to everyone's taste – but it is undoubtedly a Chris Nolan picture; the same man who gave us Memento, The Prestige and of course, The Dark Knight. The problem is that for all the slick visuals and clever narrative structures, we end up with something cold, clinical and frustratingly diffuse.

Why Inception falters, and I appreciate that I may be in the minority, is that for such a surreal and imaginative concept to work, it requires an equally surreal and imaginative mind, and Nolan is just too conservative and too technical for the content. It might have made a more interesting film had it been directed by P.T Anderson or, dare I say it, Terry Gilliam.
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A Challenge to Those People Who Thought This Movie 'Made Sense'
Clark Kent4 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Alright, so here's the thing; yes, it was cool that there was all that complexity. Yes, it was cool that there were so many layers of thought both on screen and off to what was going on. Yes, it was cool that Chris Nolan managed to make something unique and fairly independent in just one movie that was complex enough to account for a whole trilogy of movies in almost any other genre. But here's the thing; it had some rather alarming logical leaps that I could not get over.

1.The Projections; Okay, so the things that inhabit the streets of the person's subconscious are manifestations of the various components of their brain as evidenced by the fact that when the characters need to find something out about the dreamer's perception of someone else they just follow that manifestation in the dream. Makes sense, because that thought does what the dreamer thinks it would do, not what the real person would do. When I saw that I went 'wow, that makes sense! Clever!', but then towards the end of the movie they say 'nevermind, they're just projections; they don't actually mean anything, and parts of their minds aren't being killed.' That was a little too convenient for my liking.

2.The Totems; WHY doesn't the top fall over in the dream world? WHY does it keep spinning perpetually? Everything else obeys the laws of basic physics, so why wouldn't that? That was probably the dumbest thing I've seen in a movie this year; there wasn't even an attempt made to explain it. I can honestly say this was just as bad as 'only a prime can kill a prime' in Trasformers 2.

3. The Architect/Dreamer Relationship; Why can only the architect choose the world they enter? And why is the only person who 'projects' characters into this world the person that's 'the dreamer'? They are ALL dreaming, every single one of them, so they should ALL be both altering the world they're in and the characters in it. And why can't the projections do anything cooler than be normal guys with guns? If I detected intruders in my mind I'd summon a nuke or Godzilla or Optimus Prime to get them out, not boring henchman who probably wouldn't be able to get the job done anyways.

4. The Script, and it's supposed 'surprises' I felt kind of talked down to when they honestly expected it to be a surprise when you discovered that Molly's death was as a result of Cobb's previous inception. If ANYONE made it through that movie without figuring that out they deserve to be jettisoned into the sun for their stupidity. I caught on the moment he mentioned that inception was possible.

5. Waking Up/Dying in the Dream When you die in the dream world you come back up a level towards consciousness, as evidenced by the fact that they wake up when they get shot in the face in the first scene. But wait! When they die in the dream you actually go down to limbo as evidenced by that happening to the oriental guy, which sucks because that's where it's just 'pure subconscious' and you wake up a vegetable. But wait! You actually aren't in an endless limbo because Cobb and Molly went there once, but you still wake up a vegetable. But wait! You actually don't wake up a vegetable because Cobb and Molly didn't when they killed themselves on the train tracks. But limbo is still bad.......right? Because you can't get out without becoming mentally handicapped, but if you can kill yourself to get out at any time just like a normal dream then why is limbo even bad? And isn't inertia supposed to wake you up? Technically the van falling off the bridge should have woken them up, or even it rolling, not it hitting the water. If the force of hitting the water is what woke them up, then shouldn't anything like a slap to the face do it?

In the end the movie suffered from the EXACT same things The Dark Knight did, and that is Chris Nolan's conflicting desires to make something believable and for sensationalism, and both cancelling out the other. If you wanted to compare it to the other obvious similar franchise,The Matrix actually is believable. Oh, yeah, now that I think of the matrix, how does a tiny needle plugged into their wrist plug them into an alternate reality in Inception? The base of the skull made sense, this is just silly. People keep saying this is the next Matrix, but the difference here is that literally twenty views later everything in the Matrix STILL makes sense, and I punched holes in this latest Leonardo Decrapio movie in one sitting. Pathetic.
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Inception is a poor representation of the dream world - Look elsewhere, this one is too literal and unimaginative.
mnoraznan31 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
UNDERWHELMING, LITERAL AND PRETENTIOUS.. These 3 words pretty much summed up the whole of Inception. Why populate the dream world with the same landscape and tone as the real world? Why the dreamers and their subconscious armed with real-world accessories and firearms? Why must the travel initiated with the actor's pretend sleep? Why does the levels are differentiated with only different decor? (Except the LIMBO realm)

WHERE IS THE IMAGINATION? Nolan has the perfect opportunity to execute his wildest imaginations and he messed it up and served us mediocrity. Apparently, he only has the most literal interpretation of dreams. No quirky visual manifestation (mirror-world? top-down switched?), no mystical representation of the subconscious (shadows, shades, animals etc), No difference between dream levels (tones-darker?grayer?more grotesque?), No symbolic representative of weapons ( energy? aura's? light? dark? ). AND OF COURSE, the travel method!

NOLAN could've presented a more sophisticated facade. Maybe a dream room with vivid machines powered with mysterious matter. Or for mobility, more visible contraptions for head, neck or body. Then, the transition can be cued with portals, or one's self entering the target's body be more fantastical; the reality bleeds or tears itself into an underworld which is the dream.

INSTEAD, what we've got is inferior chase and action set pieces. Save for the gimmicks of collapsing the landscape onto itself, making pathways, the movie's rather bland. It also features too many characters - the forgers, architects, point man, sedative-man, corporate-sponsor get it. IT SHOULD be anchored by one solid protagonist that's let say have a latent talent for some form of ability (dream-walker but is named with Latin words), his target and the source of his internal conflicts (family, lover, friend).

This movie fools layman into thinking that they're smart.IT is basically an inferior imitation of Michael Bay's summer blockbuster disguised as a thinking man's movie. IT'S ABOUT CORPORATE ESPIONAGE - Tell people that and it would be 100% true. CERTAINLY NOT travel between dream worlds....
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Insipid – The pointless film.
RIK-2226 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I have to say to make such an impressive trailer and such an uninteresting film, takes some doing.

Here you have most of the elements that would make a very good film. You have great special effects, a sci-fi conundrum, beautiful visuals and good sound. Yet the most important part of the film is missing. There is no plot, character or soul to this film. It's like having a beautiful building on the outside with no paint or decoration on the inside.

It's an empty shell of a film. There is no tension; you couldn't care less about any of the characters, why were they even motivated to do what they did. Helping a corporation get "one over" on another corporation is hardly saving the human race.

When you operate in a dream environment, where you can't die or be injured really it means there is nothing to worry about, who cares what happens. All the explosions and actions sequences are just meaningless. By the way, why does Hollywood still keep filming action scene's an inch away from every characters nose? It's impossible to see what's going on, so many films are ruined by this. Watch and learn from the Matrix, take the camera backwards a couple of feet and we can actually work out what's going on.

So 2 and half hours of looking at my watch waiting for the very predictable ending, is a million miles from being a good film. How anyone in their right mind can give this 10/10, it's boring and pointless. A film has stir the soul, has to grab you, you need to feel for the characters. Can anyone, honestly say, they cared about anyone on show here.

By the way, here's an idea, why don't you bring the children (who haven't aged a minutes since you last saw them) to you, if you can't go to the US.

I know the end scene was trying to be ambiguous, but the fact his father, who lives in Paris, is bizarrely there in the US to meet him (how did he know) and the children look identical to every dream sequence they appeared in, means there wasn't much doubt.

In the end there is nothing at stake for anyone, so a pointless movie. I suspect Nolan will continue to get praise, but I can't really say I've got excited about any of his movies. They all leave me cold. They are not terrible, just there's nothing really there, no substance.
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Predictable, shallow and repetitive.
TheThirdWoman846 November 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Seriously? Mesmerizing? Fantastic? Genius? No.

I was pretty excited about this film after all the hype, and I feel massively let down. The plot was overly drawn out and repetitive, and there was an over-reliance on action, with massive portions of the plot being taken up by filler scenes of silly shoot-outs and car chases.

Christopher Nolan has given this film a superficial sheen of meaningfulness, with the admittedly astounding visuals covering for a plot so full of holes it's almost falling apart. Why are Dom and Mal shown as having grown old and grey together in limbo when they are also shown laying their head on train lines to escape limbo as 30-somethings? Why does the incessant music come to dominate the film, making every scene feel climactic, which is actually detrimental to the final climax?

In a similar manner to the way in which the Wachowski brothers took the brilliant writings of Baudrillard and completely mangled them beyond all meaning in The Matrix, Nolan has taken a great idea and turned it into a teenage boy's shoot-em-up action fantasy. People might watch it and think "Wow, that's really deep". No, it's not. It has the appearance of being deep and meaningful when in fact it's just a shallow action film.

I'm sure people will read this review and think "she just doesn't get it". The problem is that I do it get. Unfortunately there's just not a lot to get.
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Chaotic and pretentious
John H18 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I'll begin by saying that I have an inbuilt prejudice against films that seem to put cleverness or 'intelligence' ahead of entertainment value. Having read a lot about this film, I wasn't sure whether I would like it, but in fact was very disappointed to end up disliking it as much as I did.

For me, the film lacked two essential elements of an entertaining movie - a coherent plot and sympathetic characters. The plot didn't really start to make any sense until about halfway through (far too late) and Leonardo di Caprio as the central character, Cobb, was competent but just didn't have the charisma to carry this kind of story. His wife's death was foreshadowed a lot in the early part of the film and I found I just didn't care how or why she died. None of the other characters came across as real people and their connection to Cobb was generally unclear to me. The impression was of good actors (like Tom Hardy) being basically wasted.

I almost switched off the film after the first twenty minutes because its chaotic action seemed designed almost to alienate the viewer. It started to make some sense after that, but was still a long way from what a good film should be. The over-reliance on sudden loud noises (way above the level of the dialogue) in the first half was simply irritating.

The film also seemed to have trouble obeying its own internal logic. Several reviewers have mentioned that there was no consistency in what is supposed to happen when a dreamer dies during a dream; I was unimpressed by the 'projections' in the dreams apparently having their own personalities and being capable of independent thought, although the script also had them as nothing more than figments of the dreamer's imagination.

Yes, the film's settings and special effects were impressive, but that's really not what an evening out (or in) should be about. If the story and characterisations are lacking, then why bother watching at all?
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an intellectual challenging movie for people, who can't speak in relative clauses.
maddog-505 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
But not for me. The movie unmasks itself as a very uninspired convoluted pseudo something when the protagonists have to find an alternative dream-tactic because their target protects himself. What they consider to be a new psychological trick is so plain and unoriginal that becomes clear with a 'kick' that Nolan was absolutely unaware of any scientific profound background by developing the plot. The plot within a plot within a plot is not automatically an "intellectual" challenging procedure when one plot is the exact mirror of the other. The challenge for me was to stay awake whilst the plot stumbles from one hole to the next:

How do they get connected so that can dream the same dream? Chemically, physically?? How can they transport their conscious plans into their unconscious dreams and execute them there? Etc., Etc.

I can't help it, but Nolan is one of the few directors in Hollywood who can direct any script as tedious as you can imagine. There are so many moments in that movie where i thought Wow, that could have been much more suspenseful if, for instance, Cameron or so had directed it.

This movie is stupid. You can make a stupid plot 'intelligent' by nesting it multiple times, it just multiplies its stupidity. In this sense the next Nolan movie could be a even greater "masterpiece" for meat heads: when it has a dump base plot every fool can follow, but this time the plot is the plot in the plot in the plot in the plot in the.....that's challenging isn't it?
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Incredible-Nolan keeps improving and Inception is by far the best improvement!
drakula20059 July 2010
I saw Memento very recently, something that turned out to be a great miss.I saw it again, just to make a couple of thins straight-and i'll definitely do the same with Inception.

Christopher Nolan keeps improving himself, with even more complex and multilayer script like this.And i thought Memento was hard to reach by most of the viewers, but no.Inception will keep you mesmerized and captivated by the genius, that's hidden behind it.And not just directors and screenwriters (or with other words-Nolan), but with acting and sound-and effects and editing as well.

When you have a cast like this-i mean Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Lewitt, Michael Caine, or Marion Cotillard (a personal favourite), the movie just keeps going flawlessly.Most of the crew is the same the Nolan brothers worked with on TDK and earlier in Batman Begins.So the Oscar noms in those categories are a certainty for me.

The only thing one could have against the movie, is the headache one could have.See, most of my friends go to the movies for brainless action, they enjoyed Iron Man 2 and The A-Team, but this movie-you have to see it at least twice, to understand it.The levels and the layers on which thing are happening are so many, that one surely'll miss something vital.This is a reason for not fitting to the mass audience, but i hope that won't happen, because Nolan is one of my favourite directors/writers, and he showed, that the brainless action flicks aren't all of it.There are still movies like Inception out there and still people like the Nolans to make those movies, so it's not all lost.And i hope this movie could show the audience that the story is still important for the experience one could receive, not the endless, constant explosions.Because this is really a one of a lifetime event.

Saying that, i must say, that in a world full of remakes, reboots, sequels, prequels and God knows what, this is a unique chance to see something different and unmatched so far-a strong movie, that, surely will be Nolan's latest masterpiece! My Grade won't change-it's the same for all Nolan movies-sheer 10!
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Inception: A Fail
Warning: Spoilers
I would have honestly given the movie a 7 but the current rating is very undeserving and I had no choice but to make the least contribution I could make to it. The writer/director of Inception thought if maybe they pretended to have a very complex plot and great special effects, the audience would not realize how pointless the whole story is. The audience were like; "OH! Such a complex plot! A Genius!! A Masterpiece!!" The first hour and a half all they do is explain the whole inception system without moving the plot forward. I am sure most of the audience didn't get what the movie was about but they pretended so they would not look stupid. And Christopher Nolan is going;"I don't really think of films in terms of light and dark...blah blah blah! I am a genius! blah blah blah! ...thriller that takes place in the mind...blah blah blah! I am a genius! blah blah blah!" The intention of the film clearly reflected on itself. The point was not to entertain audience but rather it was a show-off of what artistic capability the director/writer possesses. It tried to point out the fact what a movie genius Christopher Nolan is. I mean I love this guy. The Prestige was great and so was the Dark Knight. But Inception was really showing off. Look at Kick-Ass, Watchmen and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. They were complete honest movies. Their intentions were clean and they reflected in the movie. They were meant for pure entertainment and that's what we got. On the other hand Inception was trying too hard. I could really point the fact on how the intentions of the movie was showing off but I would rather suggest the audience to watch the movie once again. They said the movie was very unpredictable. Suppose there is a man chopping onions in the movie and suddenly the chopped onions turned into a chicken. Now would that be predictable? They might say Cobb's wife living with him till old age in the dream was unpredictable. Are you serious!! How come you haven't seen that one coming!! It was so obvious! It is only the fact the way it was dramatized that made it seem unpredictable and shocking. Top 10 in the IMDb chart!!! Are you kidding me!!
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Nolan at his most intelligent best.
marcusdean11813 July 2010
Inception is truly one of a kind. A concept which has long gestated in Christopher Nolan's mind, his eye for drama mixed with his large scale sensibilities ring true in Blockbuster season making Inception a true original in the sea of reboots, remakes and sequels.

To try and explain Inceptions many plot twists and incredibly intelligent arcs, would be a foolish task. As Nolan himself has been reluctant to. The best way to approach the film would be with an open mind, if you are prepared to be taken on a ride of a lifetime, then trust that you 100% will. If Avatar was a seminal film in technology (although coming out as a rather poor film, in my opinion), then Inception is seminal in it's storytelling. With a 148 minute running time, you would expect a lot to take place, but what you wouldn't expect is the pace of it all. I did not think at one time in the film about how long was left. I was simply blown away by the depth in every single part of the film. If my enthusiasm for the storytelling aspect of the film has left you worried about the spectacle, then don't worry. They are, as hinted in the trailer, incredible, looking real and unbelievable simultaneously. The most pleasing thing about the action set pieces, is that they are genuinely used to illustrate the story, rather than to blow stuff up a la Michael Bay.

With this complex movie in it's high concept, a stellar cast is needed. And Nolan as always, delivers with just that. This is vintage DiCaprio, perhaps only equalled in The Aviator, which is even more impressive as his role as Cobb in Inception is not a showy one, needing DiCaprio to be the constant at the centre of the film. And he pulls off Cobb's emotional contradictions sublimely. The rest of the cast members all shine in parts of the films, Cillian Murphy shows off his usually non-existent tender side, Gordon-Levitt bottles his usual charm for his confidently reserved turn as the reliable Arthur, Watanabe is devilish as the seemingly ambiguous Saito, Page shows why she's the next big female star and Tom Hardy revels in being the comic relief of the film compared to his recent turns as decidedly psychopathic characters.

Overall, Nolan has indeed surpassed himself. He has created a world as expansive as his Gotham, a plot dwarfing the intricacies of Memento and one which blows The Prestige's cinematic reveal out of the water. This is truly unmissable cinema. Revel in it, we've still got to wait a whole two years before Batman 3.
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Nolan's Inception Steals Idea from Novelist
g-matthew28 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Inception no more explores dreams and the human mind than Star Wars explores outer space. Inception is a rip-off of the novel Fireflies in the Shadow of the Sun (FSS), published in 2004 but preceded by a web site on dreams (2001-2009), the thrust of which is about how dream experiences are the source of ideas and other changes to waking life, including personality development. The broader point is that like his character Dom Cobb, Nolan himself steals the ideas he needs to create Inception from a novelist and life long dream researcher.

Chapter 7 titled "Journey by Deflection" occurs entirely in a shared dream in which 2 protagonists ascend / descend through "levels of dreaming" in action-oriented sequences and even a "dream within a dream," addressing how intermittent awareness of the dreams affects the dream. But Inception does not (a) intrigue / illuminate as to how these levels are distinct and yet intrinsically related or (b) draw from real dreams and real similarities to waking life. Inception is just an action film set in dream space that neglects the essence of dreaming in dream symbolism. The dream space featured in Inception is fictitious -- a contrivance of both Nolan and of the architect in Nolan's story.

Inception would have benefited by emulating FSS in the one way it did not emulate it. In FSS the characters trapped in the shared dream have to solve the dream's logic in order to wake up. This plot is much more conducive to an education of the language of dreams, which FSS author spent an entire lifetime understanding from the time he started a diary of his own dreams at age 13 to his doctoral dissertation at age 27 exploring the relationship between dream experiences, coping strategies, blood chemistry, and symptoms in terminally ill cancer patients. Like FSS however, and this is yet another coincidental similarity between the two works, in Inception the characters are thwarted by a dream that is plugged into their mental efforts to understand it. Also as in FSS, the dreamers have to deal with the denizens of a dream world that react to periodic episodes of lucid awareness of the dream. In FSS, the whole script, including objects and aspects of the environment, respond to the awareness, but in Inception we get the juvenile and scientifically ignorant development that other characters in the dream respond to Dom Cobb and his team like white blood cells to foreign pathogens. The bottom line is that FSS teaches us things about dreams and Inception will impress only the most psychologically unsophisticated among us or those who have never remembered a dream in their life.

Also like FSS, Inception makes the point that much of the bizarreness of dreams is attributable to a higher-order thinking. It does this using a statement very similar to one from the former FSS web site, which maintained that while dreaming is a whole brain activity, the conscious person uses only about 3-5% of his or her brain. FSS author remarks that experiencing and trying to make sense of a dream is like trying to fit 100% of something into 3-5% of itself -- there will be distortion!

The subject matter notwithstanding, Nolan's storytelling and direction are designed to give artificial weight to the real value of plot twists. In Nolan we have a director who conceals and compensates for second-rate thinking with CGI and high-octane action that detracts from the story without getting the blood flowing. The action in the film was supposed to create a sense of time-sensitive suspense, but came across more like the dull dishwater backing up in my sink than a raging river.

There are also inconsistencies in the film. Nolan wants us to invest in the idea that everything that happens in a dream has an effect on the waking life of the dreamer. It works -- until Dom Cobb dismisses out of hand his shooting of all these dream characters like they were throngs of disposable orcs or storm troopers, claiming its OK because they are "merely projections of the subconscious." Suddenly, what happens in dream Vegas stays in dream Vegas. And where did the idea of "limbo" come from -- introduced as a patchwork device for a poorly articulated plot.

And much of the film's premise is contradicted by real research which shows that the relationship between perceived and actual dream time is roughly 1:1.
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