Sunday, July 25, 2010

Inception, Part I: The Good

A few weeks ago I wrote a (very) tongue-in-cheek post about how I wanted to become the biggest Inception fanboy of all time.  Now, after seeing the zealous response of the critics and masses to the film, spending some time on IMDb forums, and being a firsthand witness to the complete euphoria of every (repeat: every) 19-year old male computer-geek in Cupertino, CA at the midnight IMAX premiere of the film, I realize there is just no humanly way that would have been possible for me, even if I was dead serious in that endeavor.  The hype for this film, both pre and post-release, has to rival just about any original (i.e., not Twilight or Harry Potter) film ever, including last winter’s AVATAR

In that post, I was being serious when I stated that we, as movie-goers, deserve to be wowed every once in a while—that for every 50 Leap Year’s, Sex and the City 2’s, Marmaduke’s, and Saw #7’s that we belabor through, there is at least one Gladiator, The Departed, or The Dark Knight that we can hang our hat on—a blockbuster that entertains, thrills, and invokes a sense of wonder, and (gulp) is  well-made.   And on that note, the summer of 2010 was kind enough to give us Inception, which succeeds mightily on that front. 

In part I here, I’ll discuss the good.  I give the film a solid 8/10, though I’m open to bumping that up on a second watch. The magnitude of the story is too much to digest in the first viewing, even for the smartest people (i.e., not me).  I will not attempt to delineate any of the logistics involved with the film in this post, but for a great analysis of the different layers of the dreams, rules associated with the dream-world and such, check out my buddy Taylor’s IMDb post.  Anyway, Christopher Nolan goes back to an old stand-by theme used in some of his earlier work (Memento & The Prestige (and Following for the most fervent of Nolan snobs)): Reality vs. Perception.  Obviously, Nolan conveys this motif through the various layers of dream scenarios in this film, and plays with the characters and audience in this epic ping-pong match between what is real and what is not, up until the very end.  Dom Cobb’s entire existence revolves around straddling this line, as he manipulates the dreams of others in order to influence their reality.  Unfortunately for him, the ability to do this to others enables him to manipulate himself, and make no mistake: that is what the film is about—to what degree has Dom Cobb manipulated his own reality? 

The fact that a summer movie can give us something that big to chew on gives me hope for mankind.  The fact that it can be done in such an entertaining, cerebral, action-packed, well written, logistically genius and mind-bending film that is 2 ½ hours long is nothing short of spectacular.  Is Christopher Nolan the next Hitchcock or Kubrick?  Maybe not…yet.  But did he give me everything I could possibly want in a summer blockbuster?  Yes, yes, and yes. 

See Part II for the Bad, and then some more Good.  

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