Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Film Autopsy (Review) of Inception
Go see it! And see it on the big screen - (even IMAX - if you have the option). See the trailer for the film here.
Inception is a visual treat with a challenging plot line. I wish it was half-an-hour shorter with some reduced chases and gunfights. But then again, Christopher Nolan was making a summer blockbuster, and it would have been hard for him to convince the studios to shell $200 million for a movie about dream invasions.
Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the film. What I say will not exactly be a plot-spoiler, but it does address the theme of the film. So if you don't want to know any thing more about the film, avoid the next few lines (you can listen to the spoiler-free autopsy below). [for more reviews, see our Film Autopsy Blog]
So what is this movie about? When I saw the film the first time, I was caught up in the complex layering of dreams. I was struck by the fact that Nolan, who is amazing at creating atmosphere, did not take much advantage of surrealism afforded by the world of dreams. So I was initially disappointed to see no references to Dali (it would have been so cool to see a random molten clock on the beach...) or to Luis Bunuel, etc. But thinking about the movie afterwards, and after seeing it the second time, it is quite clear that Inception is not really about dreams. Yes, dreams serve as a premise - but that's about it.
If it's not really about dreams - then what is it about? I think it is movies themselves - the art of making films and the experience of watching them as individuals. As Kevin Anderson puts it nicely in our No-glove autopsy of Inception, when we go to a movie, we share a collected dream, but the experience and meaning of the dream is often shaped by our own past experiences and prejudices that we bring to the film. We discuss more on these themes in the two autopsies below.
My appreciation of the film grew enormously after my second viewing. Despite its complex plot, I think the movie is very consistent with the world it creates. I also love the music. The characters, like in other Nolan films, are quite a bit wound-up - and they could have used a bit more sense of humor - especially with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page at Nolan's disposal (they do share a splendidly sweet moment - but it appeared to me to have been improvised and likely not in the script. You'll know when you see the scene). But then again, Nolan seems to be fascinated by the dark side of human nature - ala Stanley Kubrick - but he is not there yet. This may not be a perfect film, but this is still a fantastic film that reaffirms the magic of big-screen cinema.
Kevin Anderson and I had two autopsies for Inception: One with spoilers and one without. So first, here is the regular autopsy (spoiler-free review) of Inception:
And here is the No-glove autopsy (with spoilers) of Inception:
Of course, you can find autopsies of other recent films at the Film Autopsy Blog.