20 July, 2010

Why Inception is Good and Not Great

For those of you about to go see the Inception, go see it. Its good, but it isn't great. For all its courage in trying to make people think, to engage the audience with something more than flashes and loud noise my congratulations. In that respect it is probably the best blockbuster of the year.

Then again, the movie doesn't really make you think about the nature of dreams or the subconscious or any of that. It simply throws definitions at you and sees if you can keep up... Kick this, gray that, time distortion to the power of infinity what?! Inception is about keeping the audience off balance with a constantly shifting set of definitions rather than engaging them in any meaningful way.

The premise of the movie is simply awesome. Its about dream hackers. They steal secrets... from your subconscious. And the really gifted dream hackers, well, they can plant ideas in your subconscious. Brilliant. And for all the potential behind the idea though, I feel like the movie didn't carry it far enough. There was so much potential there to be creative - to really plumb the depths of the human consciousness and discover the hidden wonders of the mind - and it wasn't exploited to the fullest.

All in all though, probably the best movie I have seen this year. It came so close to being truly great though, it makes me sad, so I thought I would let you know.

10 comments:

Sam said...

It's easy for lovers of SF to say things like this, but the reality is that if they'd gone all out in the way you suggest, the chances are the movie would never have been made.

I think they successfully trod a very fine line between awesome concepts and the general movie-going public being able to engage with it.

logankstewart said...

Yeah... kind of. I really enjoyed the movie a lot, but I agree that the concept could have been taken further. Yet, conceptualizing a weird dream on the big screen would be too difficult a task to pull off with the constraints set on the film. Still one of the best of the year.

Alec said...

Good answer sam. Don't you think there could have been a little more... I don't know, philosophy in it. It was all hard concepts and shiny edges.

Alec said...

I agree Logan. The film made it very clear that it chose to stay grounded in reality. It even went so far as to say that changes to our dream reality were defended and prevented by our own subconscious.

I guess my point was quite simple. The movie gave us a lot of how and not enough why. It was still great, I just wanted to put it out there that it could have been deeper and still pulled it all off.

Sam said...

Heh! Alec you just said what I was about to. They deliberately kept it as grounded as possible. I tend to do that in my own writing as it makes it easier for me to keep the rules of the world in order.

There was just enough information for me to believe in what was going on and I'm pretty sure the logic played out. More philosophy would likely have blurred that for me. The first hour raced along and I found myself only just keeping up.

Really I was just shocked that the little kid from Third Rock From the Sun was so tall!

Alec said...

Ahhhh, thats who it was! I knew he looked familiar!

Anonymous said...

I agree. Good but not great.

I really think the movie just needed some more surrealism like in real dreams. For dream worlds these places didn't seem very interesting to me.

The limbo world was the most interesting but still wasn't very spectacular. Where was all the distortion and deep, abstract symbolism?

However, Christopher Nolan is not one I would expect to create anything very surreal.

Anonymous said...

it was a great action flick... nothing more. All the time in the movie spent on special effects and action scenes could have been put to better use. like really exploring the concepts etc... dont get me wrong I like a good bit of action but it seems like this film was made with the "lets get the kids liking it" to make money. i.e. the snow fight? and running through an african city were just pure cheese

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it did kind of suffer from having to be the "first step" mainstream movie to bring multiple simultaneous stacked (instead of parallel) reality levels to the big screen. If it had cranked the concept up to actually interesting levels, it would have completely lost the audience.

On the plus side, though, it did open up the idea more for use in future movies. Reviewers will now be able to say "similar to Inception", and have people know what they're talking about. And to give the writers credit, they managed to stack five (possibly six) layers of reality into a fairly straightforward presentation, rather than limiting it to merely two (as in Tron or The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) or three.

As an example of reuse, the recent film _Source Code_ showed at least three levels of reality, possibly four, and mostly made it work (if a little sloppily).

rosucaldito said...

Yeah, good, not great. I didn't know if it was all the hype that gave me this really high expectation...

I just watched it early this year and my brain didn't even got a kick. I'm a comicbook geek so concepts involving time-travel, astral planes and dreamscapes, they're easy to digest. But with Inception, there were ZERO thinking needed for the audience, the characters defined and explained what and how everything will work/happen and all the audience need to do is watch these plans get done.

I'd still choose Matrix over this one.