The Case Against “Inception”

Christopher Nolan – there isn’t a director out there that I’d single out for over hyped fan-boy praise more than this guy.

I genuinely love him.

He’s made films that I attribute to my raging love of cinema. The very first time I watched Memento, I was so shocked and inspired by what I had just seen that I instantly replayed the film. The Prestige, a criminally underrated film, is one of my favourites of all time. And if anyone was to say that the Batman films had to be part of the conversation about the greatest trilogy of all time, next to the Toy Story and Godfather films, I wouldn’t laugh at them. He’s a hell of a director.

But for me, he has two black marks on his record. One is Insomnia; I don’t necessary think it’s a bad film, I just didn’t understand it and unlike most Nolan films, it left no impression on me.

The other black mark is the main subject of this post – Inception

I should really love Inception; In fact, the first time I watched it at the cinema, I really did. I remember telling my Mrs that it was the best film I’ve ever seen in my life. I went back the very next day to the cinema and my mind hadn’t changed.

What blew me away was the concept of hacking into other people’s dreams and how it was realised in the film. I can’t think of many introductory sequences that can top Inception’s.

I also think Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance in this film is outstanding. He, above all else, sells the concept of the film and that is no small feat.

The very best films stand well against the test of time. The Godfather is my favourite film of all time because every time I watch it, it feels like the first time. The problem with Inception is that the more I watch it, the worse it gets.

BBC’s Mark Kermode drove this idea that Inception is an intelligent film that treats the audience with respect. I really dispute this. Watching Inception feels like I’m being lectured to, being told how to think and babied through the rules of this world. Why the hell can’t I work it out for myself? Ellen Page, who I think is an extraordinarily gifted actress, is only in this film for the purpose of being lectured to. I feel sorry for her, because it gets tiresome real quick.

Speaking of Ellen Page, the other thing that disappoints about the film is the assemble cast, with the exception of Leo. There are a lot of ‘meh’ performances in this film. In fact, some performances boarder between ‘meh’ and just plain bad. This was the first film I’d ever seen Tom Hardy in and I really wasn’t impressed. Marion Cotillard, who I absolutely love as an actress, makes me cringe in this movie; she leaves all the hard work of selling their characters’ experience in Limbo to Leo. If the hotel fight scene didn’t exist I would have found Joseph Gordon-Levitt forgettable in this film. Ken Watanabe is just bad.

All of this surprised me because Nolan’s track record suggests that there aren’t many better directors out there who can handle ensemble casts of this stature. What went wrong?

What I find most depressing about this film is the pace. I am not an impatient man; Once Upon A Time in America is close to 4 hours and I love it to bits.

The pacing in Inception is all wrong and, I’m afraid, that was Nolan’s job. Huge chunks of this film feel lethargic, especially when the dream concept is being explained.

Again, apart from the opening scenes and part of the hotel scene, the action sequences haven’t aged well at all. I particularly find the snow covered final sequence to be boring and predictable. Again, Nolan is at fault here.

I don’t feel great writing this post because I hold Nolan in such high regard. I’m still fuming that Warner Brothers were not brave enough to employ Nolan as the director of the next Superman film. I also think Sony should abandon their adventure with Sam Mendes and hire Nolan to direct the next lot of Bond films.

But Inception doesn’t deserve the praise it gets. People talk about this film like it’s a modern classic and to my mind, its not. Nolan over-indulged in this film and might have let his ego run away from him because he can and has done so much better than Inception.

More filmy thingys at chocolateteddyfilms.blogspot.co.uk. Follow me on the Twitter @chocoteddyfilms. Peace.

  

Author: Chocolate TeddyBear

Just a normal everyday bloke writing about films.

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3 Comments

  1. I liked it, but it suffered from what so other films do these days, excessive length. Half the movies I see would be improved by editing out some of the filler, but apparently the creators can’t bear the thought of parting with anything, even when it’s doing little more than eating time from the lives of it’s viewers.

  2. I agree with you, CTB. I just didn’t get it, it wasn’t particularly intriguing, and did not live up to its expectations.

    I think there was too much thought given to stunts and effects and not enough to character. Memento had character in spades, as did most of his other films. This one, not so much.

  3. I remember being very impressed with the basic premise of INCEPTION, as well as its masterful use of special effects, especially scenes involved in the relativity of real time to dream time, which caused a short fall by a car off of a bridge, to evolve into many long minutes of apparently weightless time in the corresponding dream world.

    I cannot say that I truly understood the intent of every scene, or exactly how everything worked out–including the very end. But I did get the general idea that DiCaprio himself was being rescued and that his rescue depended on shielding him from the true significance of his dream states.

    I also thought the subconscious concept of being noticed by dream characters signifying one’s losing control of the process was great, and I still get chills up my spine when remembering all the fascinating dream state concepts and the incredible CG effects.

    Over-all though, I think it was a bit too vague and too cryptic in several places for me to easily grasp the significance of what was happening.

    Does anyone remember the classic Stanley Kubrick film: 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY? This was another film with many fascinating concepts and views of the future but that remained overly symbolic and puzzling to understand at the end. I gained a little more insight after reading the Novel, but feel that the movie ended much too mysteriously. A friend of mine who watched the movie at a theater with myself and other’s, summed up his feelings simply by saying, “Some movie! A man goes to Jupiter and comes back an embryo!” Needless to say,this drew a great deal of laughter from myself and my other friends.

    I think mind-blowing concepts in films are all fine and good, but when their meaning becomes overly difficult to deduce, the film’s Director, has failed the audience just a bit.

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