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A 2010 movie written and directed by Christopher Nolan.

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A stupid movie pretending to be smart. 25%

  • Jul 4, 2011
For months, just like everyone else on Earth, I've been hearing and seeing the buzz surrounding Christopher Nolan's newest film, Inception. However, due to time constraints caused by college and other personal matters, seeing the movie wasn't high on my list of priorities. Since I just got a mini vacation from college this week, I found some time to finally watch it, and I must tell you, the movie left me scratching my head. Now don't let that past sentence fool you. I wasn't scratching my head over how "complex" the movie was, but rather over why so many people are hailing this as one of the greatest movies ever made. Sure, this movie is a deep and complex brain twister if you're only familiar with the cookie-cutter Hollywood swill like Smokin' Aces or the Twilight franchise, but go read a Philip K. Dick book or watch a film by Satoshi Kon or Andrei Tarkovski, then come back and tell me how "genius" Inception is.


"Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is the best there is at extraction: stealing valuable secrets inside the subconscious during the mind's vulnerable dream state. His skill has made him a coveted player in industrial espionage but also has made him a fugitive and cost him dearly. Now he may get a second chance if he can do the impossible: inception, planting an idea rather than stealing one. If they succeed, Cobb and his team could pull off the perfect crime. But no planning or expertise can prepare them for a dangerous enemy that seems to predict their every move. An enemy only Cobb could have seen coming."

-Taken from product description (too lazy to summarize plot myself).


What's a movie, regardless of how thought-out the plotting is without any interesting or properly fleshed-out characters? Unfortunately, Nolan overlooked properly developing characters or even giving them anything interesting or charming to their personalities so that we could latch on to them as the movie went along. With the exception of Cobb, the characters are either mere plot devices or exposition magnets. The biggest exposition magnet by far is Ariadne played by the miscast Ellen Page. She spoon feeds every little detail to the audience, not letting us think for ourselves. Some of the worst offenses are with the scenes with Ariadne telling Cobb after a flashback or dream "You have some dark stuff buried in you." You really think so? Whatever happened to "show, don't tell?" Cobb's inner demons revolving around his dead wife, Mal, had some potential, but I wasn't emotionally moved at any point in the film since Nolan was too focused on the architecture of the dreamworld and the little "ticks" going on with it rather than actual character development. Supporting characters like Saito and Arthur were very dull since like everyone else, were just plot devices.


For a movie acting like it's intelligent, it sure talks down to the audience. As stated before, nothing is left to the imagination. Much superior dream-related films like Total Recall (1990) and Paprika (2006) establish their own rules about dreams and create dreamworlds that require one or two little bits of exposition and after that, you fully understand their workings and can enjoy the rest of the films without further explanation. However, the dreamworld in Inception was way over-developed since there's too much to the structure as to where it requires constant explanation. This is a clear case of too much complexity killing a potentially good idea. Some might defend the heavy dialogue, stating that the explanations give people a full understanding of the universe Nolan created. However, it doesn't work with me because when I watch a movie, I care about character development and exploration of certain ideas, I could care less about every tiny detail in a certain universe since I only want enough information as to where I can follow it.


Lots of people are hailing this as very creative and original. I can't disagree more with this notion because this feels like a stale copy of Paprika. Paprika focused on psychotherapists diving into the dreams of their patients to understand the subconscious better and to get information important to them (such as the theft of their technological breakthrough, the DC Mini). Inception focuses on people diving into peoples' dreams so they can steal or plant ideas. While Paprika had better visuals and characters to go with its dreamworlds, Inception opts for very conventional imagery and bland characters, thinking that the "amazing" multi-layered dreamworld is enough to hold the movie together.


For a movie focusing on dreams, Nolan's take on dreams was terribly vanilla. I don't know about the rest of you, but while my dreams can relate to parts of me that are entirely personal, they're largely nonsensical, unpredictable, and depending on who you talk to, disturbing. The lack of predictability in someone's mind renders the idea of a "dream architect" successfully creating a dreamworld in someone's head as a pretty silly one. Having Paris fold in on itself and having rotating mirrors on the streets wasn't too imaginative, and that's the only "surreal" imagery you get in this dream-themed film, everything else looks very conventional.


It looks like Nolan made some quick searches on Wikipedia to shoe-horn in some "smart" ideas into the film. The best example of this would be when Arthur explains to Ariadne the concept of the Penrose Stairs and explains how it's an infinite loop, and how it's that concept that's used to confuse inception victims, then the camera moves down to show that it's a regular staircase. Wow, wasn't that genius?!! The other part that pretends to be "smart" is the plotting. Again, Total Recall and Paprika successfully merged fantasy and reality and really twisted the audience's minds questioning what's happening is real or not. With Inception, however, it's quite easy to follow the dreams within dreams within dreams within dreams because they're neatly separated from each other, you just have to keep track of them (I guess Nolan thinks we're too stupid to do that). The last quarter or so of the movie gets extra convoluted with quick cuts between the multi-layered dreams and Cobb facing Mal in others. I guess this was supposed to make the movie puzzle-like and give the audience something to solve.


Nolan depends on Hans Zimmer to deliver an overblown score for an overblown movie. Since Nolan forgot to properly develop characters and give them any legitimate tension, he depends on Zimmer to fill nearly ever second of the movie with music to drive home how we're supposed to feel in certain scenes. Look, music can be a great element in enhancing the emotion in certain scenes, but when you're depending entirely on it to drive home certain scenes, that's just unprofessional.


At the end of the day, Inception is just another "style over substance" over-priced summer cash-in (much like Nolan's previous movie, The Dark Knight), but unlike most others of its ilk, it really hurts itself by pretending to look like a thinking-man's film. At least the recent Transformers movies are honest with being loud special effects vehicles and the fans will agree with that notion. I'll give Inception some more points than that blue abomination Avatar since it felt a little more ambitious than that blue liberal propaganda piece, but it's still quite a wretched picture. If you want some great and truly thought-provoking sci-fi, go read the Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick and go watch Paprika (2006), Total Recall (1990), Solaris (1972), and Stalker (1979).

The day that people stop looking at Nolan's movies through rose-colored glasses can't come sooner.

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July 19, 2011
Interesting review - I don't agree that 'Inception' is unoriginal, but it's not the most groundbreaking story in science fiction either. 'Solaris' (either version) and 'Moon' certainly have more to offer there. But I'd have to say that I think to make a movie intended for anyone to watch it and to leave the ending of the movie ambiguous is pretty brave, and the visuals are impressive. Also, Zimmer gets a lot of flak for his overblown scores (most of it deserved) but his score for 'Inception' has some pretty remarkable subtlety. I just watched this the other day and I still like it. It works for what it was. Great review though - I can definitely see where you're coming from!
July 05, 2011
I liked this one, but the more I saw it, the less I liked it. There was a lot of intended ambiguity thrown in there. The dialogue also had some rough spots. Nice review!
More Inception reviews
review by . July 16, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
4 ½ Stars: Christopher Nolan Creates a Dream Worth Watching...
   After the highly-successful “The Dark Knight” which defined the way comic book movies should be made, one wouldn’t be hard-pressed to expect nothing but the best from Christopher Nolan. “INCEPTION” has generated a strong buzz ever since the trailer debuted in previews and the worldwide web; after all, this film is written and directed by Nolan himself and with his “Batman” team assisting in the film’s production, it seems like the …
review by . August 09, 2010
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Let me start by saying i don't watch many movies, I'm not a big sci fi buff, and as I'm getting older, maybe I'm just getting a little crotchety.  I'm very aware that by coming out and being the ONLY one Lunch who is giving Inception a negative rating, I'm opening myself up to a lot of questioning and judgment... but that's okay because I know the community will respect my differing opinion and not ridicule me for expressing it.  So here goes:      …
review by . January 04, 2011
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I like to watch a movie that keeps me guessing what is happening, why it is progressing the way it is, where it is going & what is going to happen next. Inception is one such movie. It keeps the audience in suspense and guessing, anxious to KNOW what is ahead.       Dreaming is something that I had always been enchanted with all my life. It is through dreams that I see God the first time in my life! Yes, I’ve been fascinated by the reality of my dreams and the …
review by . December 12, 2010
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Stephanie's Favourite Movies: Inception      What's wrong with this movie? Nothing, that's what. This is a perfect movie, there's nothing wrong with it. I appreciated that it wasn't pandering to the lowest common denominator like most summer blockbusters do. It actually took a few brain cells to keep up with it. Of course, you don't have to be a genius to watch it and enjoy it, but you have to be kind of smart to understand it. It's that rare summer …
review by . January 22, 2011
Inception is a rare breed of movie. Firstly, it came out in July and thus can classify as a summer blockbuster, and secondly, it does not insult the intelligence of the audience and actually takes a few brain cells to keep up with it. It's incredibly well-acted, it has an original story in a time when they are becoming harder and harder to come by, and it's a movie that will definitely be apperciated come awards time. It will probably win more awards for its technical accomplishments, and …
review by . July 16, 2010
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After the wild success of  The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan reached the ranks of movie making freedom that so few directors reach.  So what did Christopher Nolan do with his golden key?  Made a movie he'd been wanting to make for ten years.  Inception.  A movie where your mind is the scene of the crime.  It's big, it's complex, it's beautiful... and it's absolutely amazing.  For those who are sick of adaptations, sequels and remakes, Inception …
review by . July 18, 2010
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INCEPTION Written and Directed by Christopher Nolan Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Marion Cotillard and Michael Caine      Eames: If we’re going to perform inception, then we’re going to need imagination.    I knew there was a good reason I fought so hard every night to hold on to my conscious mind and not let my unconscious mind take over.  I’ve got to make sure no pesky extractors get in there to steal my highly …
review by . July 26, 2010
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Listen to the some of the awesome Hans Zimmer soundtrack while reading:            A film like Inception only comes along once a decade, and it's no surprise it took Writer/Director Christopher Nolan over ten years to polish the screenplay into its final form. The loud and frenetic visuals in the trailer all fall into place when you see the film, which represents a masterful blend of genres and ideas, some of which have been attempted before but never …
review by . January 02, 2011
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review by . June 18, 2011
At present, both the demand for and expectations of Christopher Nolan's big-budget conceptual genre offerings are equally high, and he still hasn't failed to deliver. Nolan possesses a rare talent for presenting difficult concepts and elaborate plot devices in a wholly accessible fashion; as a result, he's one of very few living Anglophone filmmakers who actually invests a modicum of intelligence into conventional stylistic forms. Here, Nolan utilizes incredible set pieces, trick photography …
About the reviewer
David Kozak ()
Ranked #21
I'm a morbid cynic who thinks very, very differently from most other people. Chances are, if the majority says X is the greatest in its category, I'll disagree with that notion, because I tend … more
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About this movie


Inception is a 2010 American science fiction film written, produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, and Michael Caine. DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, a thief  who extracts information from the subconscious mind of his victims while they dream. Unable to visit his children, Cobb is offered a chance to regain his old life in exchange for one last job: performing inception, the planting of an idea into the mind of his client's competitor.
Development began roughly nine years before Inception was released. In 2001, Nolan wrote an 80-page treatment about dream-stealers, presenting the idea to Warner Bros. The story was originally written as a heist film, inspired by concepts of lucid dreaming and dream incubation. Feeling he needed to have more experience with large-scale films, Nolan opted to work on Batman Begins, The Prestige and The Dark Knight. He spent six months polishing up the script for Inception before Warner Bros. purchased it in February 2009. Filming spanned six countries and four continents, beginning in Tokyo on June 19, 2009 and finishing in Canada in late November of the same year. Composer Hans Zimmer scored the film, using parts of Edith Piaf's song "Non, je ne regrette rien".
Inception was officially budgeted at $160 million, a cost that was split between Warner Bros. and Legendary ...
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Director: Christopher Nolan
Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Release Date: July 16, 2010
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Christopher Nolan
Runtime: 148 minutes
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures, Syncopy Films, Legendary Pictures
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