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Inception teaser poster

A 2010 movie written and directed by Christopher Nolan.

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Stylized, Ambitious, Powerful

  • Dec 9, 2010

Going into Inception was kind of a gamble for me as my friends and colleagues apparently know me better than I thought.  I’ve been hearing this is the “one to check out” since the day it arrived in theaters this past summer and while my friends have once again proven spot-on with their understanding of the kind of fiction I enjoy, it is always worrisome when so much hype comes my way.  I have to make a very conscious effort not to get swept up in it, as that is the sure-fire way to become disappointed with any project (however ambitious).

That said I was able to suppress my tendency to become the ultimate Inception fan boy until its home-disc release then quickly snatched up the Blu-ray with reservations on picking up a Leo DeCaprio T-shirt and matching coffee mug.  To cut the chase, I enjoyed this film quite a bit but perhaps not quite to the levels my buddies assumed I would and the reason for this stems from the fact that some of its finest conceptual moments have been done before in various mediums.  However, we’ll get to all that.  For now, let us get to the nuts and bolts of the picture.

Inception tells the tale of Dom Cobb (Leonardo DeCaprio), an Extractor (a man who enters people’s dreams to gather information).  With a team of dream-experts consisting of Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Ariadne (Ellen Page), Eames (Tom Hardy), and Yusuf (Dileep Rao), Cobb is hired by Saito (Ken Watanabe) to implant an idea (a unproven process called Inception) into the brain of Robert Fischer Jr. (Cillian Murphy).

If this sounds a bit muddled to you, then perhaps steering very clear of this picture will be your best bet.  For all of its intricate explanations, Inception is a venerable swirl of intense sequences that demands multiple viewings if any coherency is to be established.

I liken the initial viewing experience to the first time I went though the original Matrix (another Warner Brothers piece with similar themes): The line between reality and the construct is quite hazy and the laws separating them aren’t quite clearly understood despite plenty of exposition attempting to force-feed them to you.

I suppose in the interest of the average viewer’s sanity, Christopher Nolan was forced to integrate a technique that I personally am not too fond of here in that when the situation demands it, suddenly the rules established earlier on are said not to apply “in this situation”, hence upping the level of danger to the characters involved.  Again though, given the complexity of the material here, it is far more forgivable than if used in a more-linear piece.

And speaking of linearity, I will continue to summarize the plot without giving away any real spoilers.  Cobb could well be the ultimate mind thief except for one minor annoyance: The appearance of Mal (Marion Cotillard) who tends to turn up in Cobb’s dreams and jobs, botching them out of spite.  Additionally we learn that Cobb is a proud daddy in the real world and that motivation to be reunited with his kids is the catalyst for his agreeing to such a risky assignment.

In fact, so delicate is the act of incepting a persuasive motivation that it demands Cobb and company to enter into a dream within a dream within a dream! Each depth of the subconscious mind said to be far riskier, more unstable, and (what I found to be coolest of all) operating in its own relative speed.

The film is pretty stunning, visually, right from the onset with undeniable attention paid in the merging of gritty, moody dialog sequences with larger-than-life mind-bending effects.  Direction is spectacular here as well with camera moves and angles that dazzle continually.  Hans Zimmer’s score is spot-on as well.  Truly from a technical standpoint, the piece is a stunner.

The 2.5-hour runtime happens quickly and efficiently thanks to roller coaster pacing and a bit of disconnected editing work.

In all, if having gotten this far in my review and aren’t sure exactly how I feel about the piece, that’s a pretty accurate observation.  Parts of this one are brilliant but unlike 1998’s The Matrix or the 2005 novel Human Interface (both of which present some very similar mind-bending concepts), portions of Inception (especially the twist at the end) leave a flavor of forced existentialism.  There is potential for greatness here in every single moment of the picture but appreciation for it all takes time to settle in much in the same way one doesn’t guzzle a bottle of fine wine.

I suppose in conclusion the goal of science fiction cinema is to entertain and there is little doubt that Inception delivers in this regard.  It is certainly thought provoking, unique and technically impeccable.  I will conclude this review with a quote from the film that best describes the experience as a whole:  Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize how things are actually strange.”

Stylized, Ambitious, Powerful Stylized, Ambitious, Powerful Stylized, Ambitious, Powerful Stylized, Ambitious, Powerful

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June 06, 2011
Excellent review!
June 11, 2011
Thanks Adri- what did you think of this one?
June 11, 2011
I absolutely loved it. +5 rating for me. I watched it 5+ times. I know the film inside and out. I've been meaning to write a review on it. I think it's a very complex and engaging piece. :)
December 10, 2010
Excellent review
December 11, 2010
Thanks FM_A, if you haven't seen this one yet, do let us know when you do so you, William and I can have a pow wow.
December 09, 2010
great breakdown. You know, Jason, I was awed when I saw this in IMAX, and it moved very quickly while overloading you with details--this made it seem like it was mind-bending when the plot itself was pretty simple once you get your footing around it. The plot was simple as heck but the direction gave so much smoke and mirrors that it gave the impression that it was complex, which was part of its charm. This is a fine example of good direction.

I liked it, would probably keep my rating of a 4.5 but won't round up this time after this second viewing. It made a great first impression, I'm used to storytelling like this so the delivery of the details didn't quite bother me as much as other folks. The ending was pretty clear too this second viewing... :)
December 10, 2010
Thanks for the awesome feedback, William. We need to discuss that ending in fact! I was going to ask you here but figured in the name of spoilers for potential readers, I better send it in a private message instead.
December 13, 2010
btw, I hope you noticed that this was highlighted and featured in Movie Hype.
December 13, 2010
Woo I didn't realize that- thanks buddy! I still need to PM you with some thoughts on this. Will try to tonight.
December 13, 2010
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
posted in Movie Hype
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
posted in Movie Hype
There's nothing quite like it! A Paradox!
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
posted in Movie Hype
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
posted in Movie Hype
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 22, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Before you see Inception, grab your Gingko-Biloba or whichever new age vitamin/drug will quicken your synaptic connections. You're going to need it. You SHOULDN'T see Inception if you aren't prepared to push your brain into overdrive. You're going to be thinking and trying to sort things out from the opening sequence to the twist-ish ending.       This film is, in essence, a quintessential action flick. The special effects are mind-blowing. The constraints …
review by . July 18, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Dreaming Without Meaning
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
posted in Movie Hype
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 . July 04, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
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 …
About the reviewer
Jason Rider (AKA OneNeo on is the author of the successful children's fantasy novel series The Uncommon Adventures of Tucker O'Doyle from Bellissima Publishing.      … 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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