Posted on 7/18/10 12:19 PM
Orion, my review partner, and I were deciding between seeing this or Despicable Me. In the end, Rotten Tomatoes' 85% rating made us choose this. However, after seeing it, I really wish we'd gone for Gru and company instead.
I notice that Leonardo DiCaprio seems to play this type of role a lot -- someone pretending to be someone else; examples -- The Departed, Catch Me If You Can, that one movie with Russel Crowe... I also think that while the guy can act, he has the tendency to overkill; he really hits an idea over the head.
Inception begins as a cool idea -- dreams within dreams and people who can go into dreams. How could this not be a good movie? Well, for one, the acting is very heavy-handed. Too much of the movie is devoted to direct reveal of necessary information, and since there is too much information, none of it receives the time or attention it deserves.
It's a shame because I usually love this type of movie -- watching the recruitment of team members who each have their own personalities and skills - like Ocean's Eleven -- but here, none of the team members get enough time. Why have a six-member team if five of them don't really act as anything other than placeholders? The only person who had any backstory was, of course, Tom (Leo), but even his did not play a big part. I was also very disappointed in Ellen Page's character Ariadne, who I felt had so much potential at the beginning of the movie, but who fell into a device for Tom to reveal his secrets.
When a movie is like this -- as in, it has some strange new technology or idea, this technology needs to be firmly cemented in believeable roots. Two movies that do this well are The Matrix and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; both include introductions into the mechanics of the world through cleverly included explanations to newcomer characters, and at the same time, the audience. Inception fails to do this; it sets in place a series of rules, but those rules are so soon shown to be so fragile and flexible that the entire world topples -- by the middle of the film, I no longer trusted what I had learned in the beginning. This clumsiness is unacceptable, especially in a film with such a good concept.
But yes, Inception gave a good thriller ride. I also have to admit that there were some good details. The idea of totems, for example, lent a small ring of believability and solidity to the concept of dreaming.
By the end, everyone in the audience was leaning forward. As a side note, I realize that it is really fun and exciting to go see a movie very soon after the opening, so that the movie theater is packed. (During the first day The Dark Knight was out, my friend got tickets and took me; the audience cheered that the scene where Batman rides his motorcycle up the wall.)
Overall -- 2/5 for heavy-handed acting, dry characters, and inelegant handling of technology.