Tuesday, May 17, 2011

REVIEW: Inception

"By popular request..."

Inception. A film that has become a cultural phenomenon in my limited experience. This film, a long and wild journey that easily confuses and certainly warrants at least a second viewing, has a poster full of infamous names, from the director Chris Nolan (The Dark Knight, Memento) to the star Leonardo DiCaprio (Titanic, Blood Diamond) to the composer Hans Zimmer (Gladiator, Crimson Tide, Prince of Egypt). It's certainly a polished film technically and artistically, and one to be reckoned with in the simple scope of impact that it has had on our culture.

The Worldview

The Good

I really appreciate the treasuring of family that we see in DiCaprio's character, Cobb. His driving desire is to get home to his kids. He loves his wife. His kids love him. And I love it!

Ariadne (Ellen Page) is consistently non-combatant. Her relationship with the hero is refreshingly non-romantic. She looks like a girl (as opposed to looking like a man), and she plays the woman's role- she's the hero's helper.

The film ponders the power of the idea- which is huge. Ideas truly do transform lives.

The film also shows our hero enjoying god-like power in a dream world, but ultimately being unsatisfied knowing that it is all just that- a dream!

My favorite character would be Tom Hardy's Eames. I love his consistent ability to just drop everything and do what needs done. He has a very rugged manliness to his character.

The Bad

The dark side to our hero's love of his family is that he's willing to do whatever it takes- he's willing to be pragmatic, to violate principle to accomplish his goal of family unity.

Ariadne is unprotected and alone, working with a bunch of single guys. Happily, the furthest this goes is when Arthur steals a kiss, a problem in itself, but- of course that's the furthest it goes. It's a movie.

Saito, the man who hires our heroes to perform Inception, gives his reason for wanting to do thus as preventing a company from having "total energy dominance". Sounds good, but it's a lawless way to go about protecting one's business.

The language I would say was pleasantly minimal, even in the unedited version. However, in the scene where Cobb's wife dies, he bellows out repeatedly The Name of Christ, which is Not. A. Good. Thing. It is, however, simply another testimony to the truth of The Christian Faith, but another discussion for another time.

The modesty- could have been worse, but could have been better. Cobb's wife is usually in a dress (very happy!) which is usually rather low-cut (not so happy). And then there's the "lovely lady" that Eames poses as, who I personally thought had a face that looked plastic, but she certainly wasn't modest.

Nihilism is something that I've heard criticized in this film multiple times. I look forward to hearing Mr. Kevin Swanson's take on it from his Generations radio program, however, as it stands right now, I did not see nihilism preached. I can see how it would be taken that way, though: We can't know what reality is. We can't know anything. It doesn't matter. Enjoy what you have.

As far as this issue goes, I took away something more like this: We belong in God's reality, the world He has created for us.

The Art

The Good

The special effects/set creation. This film is stunning visually. The spinning hallway... I'm sure it's been applauded over and over again, but I'm going to applaud it one more time! Very impressive.

The acting was good all-round. There were a coupla parts that I thought could have been improved- maybe. But that is very seriously on an opinion level.

Good directing- Mr. Nolan isn't my favorite director, and I would have enjoyed some more striking and wild shots for such a wild concept, but nevertheless it was all certainly industry-standard. I loved the shot with the line of sinks in the bathroom. Very artistic.

Good sound-design, definitely. Some excellent slo-mos and accompanying audio effects.

And now would seem to be a good time to bring up a concept that I haven't heard of before but I find quite interesting- "the audience character". In Inception, the audience character would be Ariadne. She knows no more about the film or the protagonist than we, the audience, do. And then, as she learns about the dream world and Cobb's past and so on, we get to learn with her- a very effective and enjoyable teaching technique!

The Kinda

Hans Zimmer's score. What can I say? It fit very well, and is a study in epic, tense music. Classic Zimmer. But it's not very musical. It's great for running to, but I don't find it musically rich.

I've come to a point where I consider Mr. Zimmer to be a great sound designer, though there are other composers that I would go to for great music. I think this film is a great illustration of many of the things that I dislike and many of the things that I admire about the works of Hans Zimmer.

EDIT- a comment from Sam Klejwa on my thoughts on the score: "I’m a bit taken aback that you didn’t like the score. Especially when you know that the whole score is meant to sound like a slowed down version of the french song played throughout the film, “Non, je ne regrette rien” (translated, it means “No, I regret nothing”), which is ironic because Cobb (as is repeated through the film) is “filled with regret”. That type of forethought and intricacy is something that cannot be seen in most scores. Plus “Time” blows me away."

This is indeed an amazing amount of intricacy that deserves mentioning. And I do agree that "Time", the 12th track on the Inception album release, is simply gorgeous.

The Bad

"You're waiting for a train..." This bit of dialogue that keeps coming up honestly seems like an attempt at epicness that... well, fails. It sounds like it's supposed to sound good.

The story of Inception really bugs me. It is a fascinating concept, but I found it to have multiple inconsistencies- or at least aspects that I'm not understanding. I would have appreciated "a little specificity", as Arthur (Gordon-Levitt) put it. I also thought the going-back-to-the-beginning-at-the-end, which Mr. Nolan apparently likes to do, was more forced here than in The Prestige.

Inception is a film that is amazing artistically and very impactful culturally. The worldview is complex and needs to be seen in light of God's Word. The language is enough that I'd recommend an edited version. It's worth watching for filmmaker, and it's definitely a fascinating ride, but I haven't really enjoyed it, mostly because the story consistently bugs me. Maybe I just need someone to 'splain to me how it works.



Aubrey Hansen said...

Thanks for posting this! I was looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this one.

Kayla T said...

Thank you, Gabe for a review! Your sisters had been telling me about this movie and I was curious. :)

Jamie T said...

I echo Kayla; nice to hear a review on this one. It looks wild!

You had me giggling with your statement of the lady with the plastic-looking face. :D

I'm not sure I could watch it without visually breaking down, though. My mind exploded when I saw Star Wars IV and that's really outdated visual effects. ;)

~Jamie Joyce

Jennifer said...

I think, at the end of the film, what was real was clear. The problem for me is when movies don't clarify this or when annoying viewers try to make it a mosaic instead of a clearer picture.

Gabriel Hudelson said...

Are you saying I disagree with you, Jennifer?

Jennifer said...

No, not on the whole, I don't think we do; it did get confusing in the film. I just wanted to offer my own feelings on the ending (that it was real) because I've gotten such a headache on another site from people going, "was the ending real or not? And if not, when did reality BEGIN and dreaming end?", following this with a dozen possible theories. Ugh, that would give Einstein a migraine.

Gabriel Hudelson said...

Oh. I agree that he's back in reality, but I'm not too worried about it meself. :-)

Rebekah said...

Sounds interesting... I think this is the movie that your little sister told me was her "favorite" at one point... A good review! :)

To the KING be all the glory!

Corey P. said...

One of my favorite sci-fi films, along with The Matrix. I enjoyed reading your thoughts about it. :)

I'd be curious to hear more about what you considered as inconsistencies in the film. Personally, I thought it was very consistent - I've seen it about four times, and though I'm a stickler for such things, I didn't find any oddities or gaps.