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Monday, July 19, 2010

So much for the "brainy" blockbuster

I'm terribly disappointed in Inception. I'd been looking forward to this movie for months. But it was just not what I was expecting at all. It's been promoted both in trailers and interviews as brainy, brainy, brainy, but there's a LOT of action. In fact, it was hard to follow the "brainy" (or you could even say convoluted and deliberately confusing) plot amid all the explosions, shoot outs and car chases, which I found really distracting and ultimately really irritating. Larry loved it, so that tells you all you need to know about where it fell on the continuum of brainy to action.

Maybe even more frustrating was that Joseph Gordon Levitt's and Ellen Page's prodigious talents were mightily wasted. They had a couple good scenes each, but overall, they were given very little to do. Ellen Page seemed to mostly be required for reaction shots, looking puzzled or concerned. Someone with a lot less gravitas than her could have managed this meager role. Of course Leo gave a tour de force and Marion Cotillard had a chance to shine also. But the rest of the characters were just types, or props, or projections if you will. Ken Watanabe was a presence, but his role was seriously under-developed.

It wasn't a bad movie (the first half was definitely better than the second half). If you adored all 3 Matrix movies, or Nolan's hyper-violent The Dark Knight, you were probably quite taken with this. It keeps you guessing about whose reality and whose dreams you are experiencing, and that's fun and entertaining. But I got so weary of the violence, which felt really gratuitous and tacked on and wholly unnecessary. I wouldn't have even bothered to see this in the theater, if they had been honest in the promotions. I can't recall a single gunshot or explosion in the previews that I saw. It was presented as quite mind blowing, but not as an action movie per se. I actually feel a little snookered, as well as disappointed. It's fine to make a movie like this, for those who want to see it, but don't pretend to be something you're not - I wouldn't have spent my very valuable time.

And the ending was a bit annoying too. Larry loved that Nolan "left it up to the audience," but I'd say it was pretty obvious that Dom Cobb dreamt the whole thing (how long has he been gone and his kids haven't aged one day?) Which made my efforts to figure it out feel sort of wasted. Just a totally unsatisfying movie experience for me.



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