REVIEW: Is Inception This Year's Masterpiece? Dream On

Movieline Score: 3


If the career of Christopher Nolan is any indication, we've entered an era in which movies can no longer be great. They can only be awesome, which isn't nearly the same thing.

In Inception, Nolan does the impossible, the unthinkable, the stupendous: He folds a mirror version of Paris back upon itself; he stages a fight sequence in a gravity-free hotel room; he sends a train plowing through a busy city street. Whatever you can dream, Nolan does it in Inception. Then he nestles those little dreams into even bigger dreams, and those bigger dreams into gargantuan dreams, going on into infinity, cubed. He stretches the boundaries of filmmaking so that it's, like, not even filmmaking anymore, it's just pure "OMG I gotta text my BFF right now" sensation.

Wouldn't it have been easier just to make a movie?

But that urgent simplicity, that directness of focus, is beyond Nolan: Everything he does is forced and overthought, and Inception, far from being his ticket into hall-of-fame greatness, is a very expensive-looking, elephantine film whose myriad so-called complexities -- of both the emotional and intellectual sort -- add up to a kind of ADD tedium. This may be a movie about dreams, but there's nothing dreamlike or evocative about it: Nolan doesn't build or sustain a mood; all he does is twist the plot, under, over, and back upon itself, relying on Hans Zimmer's sonic boom of a score to remind us when we should be excited or anxious or moved. It's less directing than directing traffic.

Nolan's aim, perhaps, is to keep us so confused we won't dare question his genius. The movie opens with Leonardo DiCaprio being washed up on a beach somewhere -- mysteriously, there are two little blond children cavorting around, though we can't see their faces. Then some Japanese soldiers drag him into a menacing-looking seaside castle nearby. Then he sits down at a table, opposite some mysterious old guy, and proceeds to eat some gruel. What, you might ask, is going on here, as bits of runny porridge drip from the haggard-looking DiCaprio's lips? You're supposed to be perplexed -- it's all part of the movie's puzzly-wuzzly structure.

Before long we learn that DiCaprio's character is an "extractor," meaning he's a skilled craftsman who can enter others' dreams to draw out valuable information, useful, particularly, in corporate espionage. His name is Dom Cobb -- which is, I guess, better than being called Com Dobb -- and not only does he have the ability to enter others' dreams; he actually builds those dreams, with the help of his number-two man, Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), plus an architect, who had better know what he or she is doing. The architect working for Cobb at the beginning of the movie (he's played, all too briefly, by Lukas Haas) meets a bad end after installing the wrong kind of shag carpeting in an important dream. Perhaps these dreams need interior decorators, too, to prevent future faux pas, but let's not get off-track.

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  • Simon says:

    hahahahahaha! thank you. I was having boring night. However your review has provided the most hilarious attempt to get noticed I've ever read.
    If I'm off the mark. Please don't hold it against me. Though that only leave us with two other plausible alternatives. The first is that I'm wrong (unlikely) and the other is that you're a blind, deaf, mute. Who while aimlessly bashing away at a keyboard has somehow, impressively, managed to construct complete (however full of arse gravy) sentences. Well if you give enough monkeys type writers, you hear them say.

  • Kyle says:

    Like my dad says: 'don't waste time arguing with ignorants'. So, I'm writing for those who might read this review. Everyone has the right to like or dislike something, and even give their opinion. It is only a matter on what their opinion is based on, so we may consider it a valid opinion or not. So here is my question: Do you think about considering the opinion of someone who claims that Nolan's movies are not actor's movies, when he gave us a remarkable Joker with rather different moral standards, great quotes, that I did not have to remind you but still am going to, was beautifully played by HL, who won an Oscar ? Honestly...

  • Evan says:

    This movie is like The Emperor has no anything with Joeseph Gordon Levitt is awful to begin with.

  • Dan says:

    Nolan fanboys suck dick for bus fare. Then walk home.

  • Dag Eustice says:

    What an utter retarded review. This is why people don't like critics. Stephanie, don't take this personally, but I think you are the one that should overthink this review, not Nolan.

  • Mal says:

    I bet you're fun at parties.

  • AlmostJesus says:

    Giving bad review just to get clicks is cheapest way to get clicks.

  • Jennifer says:

    No, but I do wonder if the reviewer even really watched the movie.

    "A onetime mark who has become an associate (or something -- the relationship is never made clear), Saito (Ken Watanabe), has suggested that Cobb may find a way back to his wife and family, if only he can penetrate the dreams of a young man, Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), who's just inherited his father's business empire."

    Two points: 1) Penetrating the dreams of Cillian Murphy's character is not the job; it is only the means to getting the job done. 2) Cobb is trying to get back to his family, but only to his children as his wife is dead.

    I'm not saying the movie isn't without flaws. It has flaws. But watch the movie. Be informed. Have an intelligent argument, not just paragraphs about how bad it was.

  • batmanadk says:

    It seems like this guy was too dumb to understand the movie... It is like when you show Bach to an ignorant that only listens to the simplest form of music (comercial pop hits), of course the ignorants wont understand Bach's genius, as this guy won't understand Nolan's

  • It was explained that fisher had his mind trained to fight against people like Cobb who extract information From the mind. The reason there are a lot of special effects and stunts is so that there is an emphasis that dreams are limitless. The only reason you thing it is a tangle is because you don’t understand what’s happening. You sound like an old person saying that just because you don’t understand the movie, it is terrible