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Inception teaser poster

A 2010 movie written and directed by Christopher Nolan.

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"All we see or seem is but a dream within a dream"

  • Aug 6, 2010
Inception is a rare beast of a movie; a big budget blockbuster that has brains as well as bangs for your buck. Kept under wraps right up to its release, it managed to retain a level of advance hype and exposure practically unheard of in the current movie climate of spoilers, leaks and previews. If the subterfuge was a calculated move, employed to keep the labyrinthine plot a mystery, then it worked like a charm. I'm sure many people, like me, went into watching this without knowing much about it, and that's the way it really should be for a movie of this kind.

Christopher Nolan appears to be a director who's drawn to complexity, mystery and illusion. From the enigmatic Momento and the underrated Insomnia, to the smoke and mirrors of The Prestige, he has shown great skill in handling intricately woven stories. Of course, Nolan has also proved himself to be a great director of action with the Batman movies. It's therefore maybe no surprise that Inception feels very much like the culmination of all of Nolan's work to date, having, as it does, an almost masterful balance of intelligence and action.

I have heard many people comparing Inception to The Matrix, and although I think that comparison is superficially valid, I think it's an ultimately lazy one. Anyone going to see this film expecting it to be like The Matrix would be disappointed, I think. One thing Inception does have in common with that movie is the fact that it pulls influence from lots of different sources - film, television, comic books, philosophy, mythology - and mixes them together to make something that feels fresh. The concept of entering dreams, the depiction of dream-scapes, and the blurring of the line between real life and dream-worlds is, of course, a well worn one in the history of film. Movies like Dark City (also a big influence on The Matrix), Dreamscape, Total Recall, Brazil, The Science of Sleep, Abre Los Ojos and the Nightmare on Elm Street series, to name but a few, have all explored these ideas in some way. It is remarkable, then, that Inception manages to offer up a new take on this well-worn concept, and is able to do that without feeling overly derivative or familiar. That, I feel, is testament to Nolan's skill as a filmmaker. He combines the meticulous craft and stately grandeur of Kubrick, the visual dexterity and style of Ridley Scott, an almost Hitchcockian sense of mystery and suspense, and the visceral immediacy of Michael Mann or Paul Greengrass, and delivers a film that impresses on almost every level.

Technically, Inception is a tour de force. Come award season, I expect it to do extremely well in the technical categories. I feel Nolan is very much an old school kind of director, so there's a very traditional, classic style of cinema craft and technique on display here.  Many are showcased in a wonderful action set-piece near the end of the film. Real sets, miniatures, stunts, and pyrotechnics are used to construct a scene that plays out something like the best James Bond action sequence never to be in a Bond movie.
As you can expect from Nolan, the film looks stunning; the colour palette shifting back and forth from cold greys and blues to warm, autumnal browns. The visual effects are highly impressive, but they're never too ostentatious. The effects that are used, are used in a very restrained manner, and always to serve the story and the scene - something a lot of directors forget. I particularly loved the M. C. Escher inspired visual tricks and set designs.

Inception has a great ensemble cast. I don't think there's a weak performance in the whole movie. Standouts for me were Joseph Gordon Levitt, who gives his character, Arthur, a likable yet slightly shady quality, and Tom Hardy (an actor surely on the cusp of super-stardom) as the wisecracking, super-cool forger, Eames. Marion Cotillard is impressive too, delivering a carefully nuanced performance in what is a very difficult role. It's also nice to see Tom Berenger and Lukas Haas get roles in a major movie again.
I confess, I have never been a huge fan of Leonardo DiCaprio. Although I have appreciated his acting ability, I have often felt that his boyish looks have undermined his performances. Case in point: The Aviator. DiCaprio delivered a fine performance in that film, but he just didn't look mature enough to play Howard Hughes. I think he may have finally grown into himself though. His work in Inception is the most mature, and by far the best, of his career to date. His performance is strong without the need for showboating, and he gives his character, Dom Cobb, a real believability and fragility.

Hans Zimmer delivers a very powerful, atmospheric score., mixing muscular brass tones with sweeping, lush, dream-like strings, electronic sounds and heavy percussion. At times, it has a very Bernard Hermann/Noir feel. Guitar legend, Johnny Marr, lends his axe work to the score, providing an electric texture to some sections and giving things a more contemporary flavour.
Edith Piaf's "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien" plays an important part in the film (I'm sure movie buffs will notice the Marion Cotillard connection there). Interestingly, it has been discovered that some of Zimmer's musical cues sound very much like parts of  "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien" slowed down. Coincidence? I'm guessing not. Inception actually has a very musical sense of pace. Certain images are repeated and echoed, just like passages are repeated in a piece of music, and the whole film builds to a crescendo, the various strands of narrative converging like the parts of a composition.

My only complaints with the film are to do with the screenplay. This is a complex film and it demands your full attention, but I found some of the dialogue to be, at times, a little exposition and explanation heavy. I can only surmise that some of this dialogue was included for the benefit of people with the attention span of a hyperactive, adolescent goldfish, or those not bothered enough to keep up with the story. Nolan employs the classic narrative trick of utilizing an outsider character - in this case Ellen Page's Ariadne (nice reference to Greek myth there) - to introduce the audience to the ideas and concepts in the world of the movie. For the most part this works, but it's a trick that's used one too many times, I think.
I do have a slight gripe with the ending of the film, which I won't reveal, for obvious reasons. I will simply say that I found it a little too predictable, which was disappointing as the rest of the film displays real invention and innovation.

Christopher Nolan has once again proved himself to be one of the most talented filmmakers working today. Inception is a wonderfully made piece of cinema that falls just slightly short of being an out and out masterpiece. Smart, thrilling, and often breathtaking, it's a film I have no hesitation in recommending to all.

Rating: +4.5

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August 07, 2010
wonderful review, Simon and welcome back to our community! You almost went M.I.A. for awhile there. I loved this movie, and I couldn't agree with you more on the movie demanding your full attention; the opening half gave a lot of information! You thoroughly broke this down, I think this may well be among the top three of Nolan's films. Thanks for the review!
August 07, 2010
Cheers, Woopak. I've been slacking with the movie reviews a bit recently, so I thought it was time I submitted something. :)
August 07, 2010
I just recently saw this movie myself an I agree with everything you posted, a very impressive movie indeed and a welcomed change from the dreary and weary that usually claims the boxoffice!
August 07, 2010
Thanks, Kavi_El! Glad to hear you enjoyed it too. :)
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 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 …
review by . January 02, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
      INCEPTION      There was a lot of hype surrounding this movie when it was released and all I would hear from people was "you have see this flick". I skipped going to see it in theaters because most of the time I am let down when something is overly hyped. So like I do with a lot I waited until the DVD release to finally catch this film. I must say that I am glad I waited and let the hype factor die down because I did enjoy this movie. I also …
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Simon Lee Tranter ()
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Member Since: May 8, 2009
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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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