Christopher Nolan may be the most brilliant, unconventional mainstream director working in Hollywood today, crafting intricate stories where narrative forms are stretched and twisted.
Nowhere is this more obvious than "Inception," which turns into a multi-level Möbius strip -- worlds within worlds, dreams within dreams. Nolan delights in being able to conjure strange worlds that could never exist in real life, but he crafts a very heartfelt, powerful story for those visuals -- a story of love and loss, ambition and power, and a broken man haunted by guilt that constantly chases him through every dream.
In the not-too-distant future (next Sunday A.D.), the military has created a technology that allows artificial shared dreaming. Within multi-leveled dreams, architects can create elaborate worlds, and special "extractors" can get information from a sleeping subject's brain. Oh, and there are several layers of dreaming, each with a different period of time passing.
The movie opens with Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) trying to extract some information from tycoon Saito (Ken Watanabe). It turns out that this was actually an elaborate audition by Saito, who wants to hire them for an "inception" -- to plant a new idea in someone's head. Cobb isn't interested until Saito offers to clear him of the murder of his wife, which would allow him to return to his young children.
Their target: Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), who has just inherited a massive energy conglomerate from his cold, callous father. Saito wants the company dissolved before it can become too powerful, so he wants the idea incepted into Robert's head.
So Cobb gets together a gang of the best: clever forger Eames (Tom Hardy), dream-chemist Yusuf (Dileep Rao), and the new architect Ariadne (Ellen Page). But only Ariadne sees how troubled Cobb is, and that the memory of his dead wife Mal (Marion Cotillard) is deliberately sabotaging every mission he undertakes. As the team weaves their elaborate web of deception and dreams around Robert, Cobb finds that his demons are threatening their mission.
You have to give it to Christopher Nolan: he doesn't dumb down his movies for the masses. "Inception" is a hard movie to even summarize because it's constantly growing more complicated -- the team is spread out over different dream levels, with different time periods passing and different perils attacking them simultaneously. It's half heist caper and half sci-fi meta-thriller... if that even makes sense.
And while Nolan sculpts a strange Escheresque dream-world of labyrinths and never-ending stairs, he also crafts some powerful subplots about love and loss. As the plot unwinds, he intertwines Cobb and Fischer's personal issues with the main story of inception. Suddenly the constant firefights, explosions and free-falling elevators/vans aren't the only reason we're invested -- the audience is truly left wanting to see both men work out their issues and find some measure of inner peace.
It also has spectacularly good special effects, particularly Arthur's battle in the hotel -- he scampers across the walls and ceilings, grappling with projections as he floats through empty halls. Not to mention the scene where Ariadne turns a whole city upside-down... literally.
Honestly, the biggest problem with the movie is that the dreams sometimes make too much sense. Why do Fischer's projections have to actually TRAVEL to attack the team instead of... I don't know, materializing inside the building?
Nolan also populates "Inception" with a lot of actors that he's cast in other projects, especially "The Dark Knight Rises." In fact, I can't help but wonder if DiCaprio's role was originally offered to Christian Bale, because we've also got Cotillard, Hardy, Watanabe, Murphy, Gordon-Levitt and Michael Caine. There are actually only a couple major actors who haven't worked with Nolan elsewhere.
But this is one of DiCaprio's best roles, even if he's not very convincing as a father -- his Cobb is riddled with guilt and numb sorrow, and it's only prodding from Ariadne that finally gets him to confront his issues. All the other actors give lovely performances as well -- Cotillard is particularly wrenching as a strange shallow shade of a madwoman, as is Murphy as the downtrodden son of a powerful man.
"Inception" is the kind of movie that we desperately need more of -- a wild Möbius strip of complex ideas, brilliant direction and powerful acting. This is truly a one-of-a-kind film, and not one to be missed.
Christopher Nolan's Inception was a summer blockbuster in 2010. In USA alone, the movie made $292 million. It was even more phenomenal at the Worldwide Box Office, with the box receipt at $816 millions, right behind Toy Story 3 (1,066 billion) and Alice In Wonderland (1,023 billion).
Inception debuts on Blu-ray with a gorgeous 1080p/VC-1 encode (2.40:1) that makes the fantasy aspects mesmerizing. The picture comes with an amazing array of bold and vibrant colors. The transfer shows a highly detailed picture with incredible, clearly outlined objects in the foreground and background from beginning to end with tremendous details. Wally Pfister's elegant photography displayed a beautiful and warm palette. (5/5)
Audio: The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is nothing short of exceptional. Dialogue was clean and sharp. Hans Zimmer music has a wide enveloping influence, that makes you feel that you are actually in the mid of the action. The bass was very powerful. A demo-worthy presentation (5/5)
Now, the bad point: The subtitles are placed OUTSIDE the picture frame. For those with anamorphic lens, with the stretched picture, half of the subtitles will not be seen. Warner Brothers, how many times do viewers have to write to you to change your ways? In this case, if you want the subtitles to be seen, one cannot stretch the picture. Thus the impact of 2.40:1 bigger picture is lost.
Inception is a complex movie that requires repeat viewings to truly appreciate all the details of the various plots. It was totally enjoyable for the entire 148 minutes. Notice, for once, that there was no plot summary that was usually written on the back cover of the dvd case. This Blu-ray does the movie's imaginative spectacle justice with an absolutely gorgeous video presentation. The high-resolution audio is pure reference quality. With such top-notch video and audio, plus a complexed plot, it will be a pleasure to watch it again and again. Highly recommended and a Must-Own.
on March 3, 2011
I received my copy today, I can't review the disc itself but the film was incredible and I'm a huge Christopher Nolan fan (I'm the type of nerd that, when I heard Leo was playing a character named "Cobb", said "Huh, a thief named Cobb, that's a cool nod to 'Following', Nolan's first feature"), so I'm looking forward to watching it again once I have 2 and a half hours free to do so.
Anyway, the reason for this review: I'd read Websurfer's review, and when I received my copy I noticed there was nothing on the case that said it contained the DVD or Digital Copy voucher, which the picture here displays. I've seen other cases that had everything that advertised as such ("The Fantastic Mr. Fox" has it clearly written on the case that it contains all three formats). So, I was about ready to look up the return process, when I decided "well, I can't know for sure until I open it"... and there they were, the BluRay, the Extras (also on BluRay), and the DVD, with a voucher for the Digital Copy. It's all there. It's strange that the physical case has absolutely no markings, front or back, that would indicate it has them all, since that's a great selling feature for people who don't quite have a BluRay player yet, but figure they'll get one soon (I had considered buying Inception sooner, before I bought my PS3, because I'd seen the combo pack here). Had I seen this displayed at a brick and mortar, I would have passed. So, don't worry if your case doesn't look like the one pictured here. Crack it open anyway... it's all there.
'Reality is that which when you stop believing in it does not go away.' Philip K Dick.
Christopher Nolan's movies are among my favorite movies of the last ten years. I remember being incredibly impressed with Memento, and own it. Batman Begins, ($373m ww) also starring Cillian Murphy, Michael Caine and Ken Watanabe), inspired me to explore and understand archetypes and mythology in movies, and presenting characters first as the opposite of how they really are. He saved the Batman franchise and took it to a new level with Dark Knight grossing over $1 billion worldwide, and he also made The Prestige, (again with Michael Caine). I think that after seeing Inception everyone who knows movies will appreciate who Christopher Nolan is, and his brilliance not only as a director, but also as the writer of Inception.
Leonardo di Caprio, not just a talented actor, has undoubtedly become one of the most reliable barometers of movie quality with a string of outstanding movies such as The Aviator, The Departed, Shutter Island, the thriller Body of Lies, and Blood Diamond, delivers another outstanding performance. It's also refreshing to see Marion Cotillard who won the Oscar for La Vie en Rose once again in a movie worthy of her talent. She brings a certain richness and emotionality to what is mostly a visual spectacle.
As you begin to watch, you may notice parallels between Inception and James Bond and The Matrix, although the stacking of realities seems more reminsicent mostly of The Jacket or Total Recall, both based on Philip K Dick stories.
As the movie opens Cobb washes up on a beach. The armed rescuers notice a a gun in his belt. He is taken to the Overlord, an old man. He also has a spinning top.
In the Matrix, Neo was a computer hacker. In Inception, Cobb, Leo DiCaprio's character is a mind hacker.
In the world of Inception, some people have the technology to invade the unconscious mind of others, and take their ideas. It is also possible to implant ideas, without people being aware. This is called Inception. You may wonder what being a spy and being a dream hacker have in common.
As a hypnotist I can say Inception is a fascinating trance experience, and takes you deeper, and continually shifts scenes. Because of this, you may miss out on some details, and you may in fact, as I did, have to go see the movie again to fill in the blanks. The more you tch the more you uinderstand.
Recurring symbols include trains and Mal's talk of trains, breaking glass repeated, a ring on Cobb's finger that appears and disappears in the second scene, and seems to shift to the overlord, and later Saito's finger. Not sure what it means.
If you have not already seen it, the following may be helpful. The unconscious mind cannot distinguish between what is real and imaginary. That is a conscious distinction. The unconscious mind is the domain of memory, emotion, and imagination. Your unconscious mind repeatedly presents unresolved issues to be resolved, which is one of the main functions of dreaming. You don't always remember a dream after you have had it.
There are some allusions to mythology. In Greek mythology, Ariadne constructed a maze. There is a character called Fischer, the son of Fischer, ailing ruler of an empire. In mythology, we have the story of the Fisher King.
I particularly loved the last moments in the movie, and I think you will too.
'All reality is an illusion, albeit a persistent one.' Albert Einstein.
If you're like me, I think you will remember Inception long after the final credits roll. I think a lot of people will have to see it more than once to get it. The best way to describe it I think is that it is a 'tour de force' of the imagination, and raises the bar on creativity. Aspiring directors will look to this movie, and raise their own standards. Well, I can dream, can't I?
Having said all this, I know this movie will not appeal to everyone. Some people may be overwhelmed by it, and others just won't get it. I think you will love, and I hope you found this review helpful.
on December 17, 2010
This was the first movie I saw in theatres twice since Nolan's previous film, The Dark Knight. The man certainly knows how to make a movie and is undoubtedly the hot director of the moment. It's refreshing to see a movie that at least tries to be original and creative, however I have a feeling that Nolan could be more if he had less pressure to dominate the box office with everything he makes. There are times in this movie where the content descends into regular action movie stuff, but for the most part it avoids such pitfalls. I still say The Prestige is the best of his movies, but this is certainly worth watching and perhaps buying.
The movie has been reviewed by greater experts than I am. Let me just say that it is great entertainment. An action flick with imaginative use of special effects, not just for the eye candy, but to make us believe in the possibility of a world that might be created in our unconscious. It is science-fiction and yet it is not, because much of what Nolan approximated is conceivably close enough to the actual workings of the mind. My main critique about the film is that I believe that the secondary characters are more interesting than the main character, and they are not developed in the movie, so I wanted more.
Now onto the DVD edition. It is the obvious set up where they get the DVD out before Christmas with almost no extra content (a featurette and a look at how some of the scenes were made), and I'm sure later on there will be a special edition coming out with a ton of better content. I just wish the content included with this DVD were a little more... substantial. There's just not much to them, it felt like I saw them all in about 5-10 minutes. They could have been a little more generous.
on January 30, 2016
groundbreaking special effects and the 'dreams within dreams' concept is fascinating. well done.
on January 23, 2011
One of the many great things about Inception was its trailer. It told me absolutely nothing. I loved that. Good movie trailers only hint at the advertised film's content, themes and storyline. There should be no need for teaser trailers--they should all be teaser trailers. Based on those first few images, we couldn't even tell what kind of film the director and writer, Christopher Nolan, would eventually be unleashing upon us. We saw Leonardo DiCaprio with a silenced pistol; was it a crime thriller? We saw people running, fighting, jumping; was it an action movie? We saw people flying through the air, a street curling up like a tongue; so was it a science-fiction film?
We didn't know and had no way of knowing and we liked it that way.
Who would have guessed it would be all those things; thriller, action, sic-fi, and more?
It's the true beauty of a film like Inception. It manages to be a heist movie, a spy movie, an action movie, a sci-fi noire film, a psychological drama, a suspense movie, a crime film, all with, at its centre, a well-defined little love story. It includes all of these elements without one overshadowing the other. The film is in perfect balance. Oh, and did I mention it's got some pretty massive special effects, as well? True, it's not terribly funny, but it does offer a few laughs--just enough to keep the dark from getting too dark, the noire from getting too noire.
Nolan's gift for blending genres, without ever alienating his audience or making them feel that he is striving to recreate the wheel, is what makes him such an exciting filmmaker. He knows when to show restraint, when to let the effects hang off the story rather than the other way around.
Other filmmakers have done it before. Ridley Scott did it with Blade Runner, crafting a film that is equal parts science fiction and crime thriller. Alex Proyas mixed sci-fi and a murder mystery in Dark City. But I would argue that Nolan has taken the practice to a new level. He manages to bring life and energy into material that, on paper, might have appeared tired.
Inception is, in a real sense, a perfect film. Its script is solid, with an interesting story and believable characters. The premise is farfetched and certainly doesn't fit what little we do know about dreams, but it is strong on verisimilitude, sucking us in with its possibilities and potential. Technically, Inception is flawless, with music that sets the scene without overwhelming it; with special effects that command attention without demanding it; with actors who are good enough to know that they are performing in a film that will not net them an Oscar nomination, and they're perfectly okay with that.
In many ways, what makes Inception so great, is not simply what it is and does, but what it isn't and does not . . .
on August 23, 2014
While this film had its moments - as lucid dreaming involved, how could it not? - for my taste far too much rushing about and violence. Presumably this is what the market demands.
on February 5, 2013
I watched the above DVD but could not get into what it is all about, one of these days
I will try and watch it again, I feel it would be more for the younger people.