A much hyped, much praised movie that I went to see with preconceived ideas in mind. Everyone says you have to watch it several times to fully appreciate what’s going on. Ebert gave it four stars and said that Christopher Nolan spent ten years writing his screenplay for this movie. Perhaps it’s a good ploy to make a movie you have to watch several times to get it. It generates more revenue that way.
I was disoriented much of the time, even though I understood the basic concept that much of the movie is dreams of people, and worse, it’s about dreams of people dreaming of people dreaming. Try to keep track of that! When I know that most people can’t follow it in the first place, I don’t even try that hard and just enjoy the movie for what it is. It reminded me a bit of Memento, the movie where the timeline went backwards.
In Inception, the concept is that five minutes of real-time dream takes up an hour in the dream, so you get more time out of it. If there are several levels, and you have a dream inside a dream, you can spend weeks in that dream world in the time your actual body sleeps a good afternoon nap.
The story line is a hokey one: An expert named Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is hired to change the mind of a dying tycoon to modify his will for the good of his company and his son. I could not find myself caring much about that story and its characters, and it was bewildering that it took place in Japan, various places in Europe and Africa, as much as I could tell. The underlying complication was that the main dream expert lost his wife due to complications on the job, so to say. So it’s a pyche-thriller. But honestly, watching the movie I didn’t much care for the characters or the story. It seemed to just be there to give the whole set of special effects a reason to exist.
I did enjoy the special effects. For instance, a van plunges off a bridge into water. Due to the time distortion of the layers of dreams and dreams in dreams, half of the movie takes place in the time the van leaves the bridge and before it hits the water. That was cool. Some of the effects of stuff we make up in dreams, especially the modifications to the landscape and the environment, were also fascinating to watch. The intellectual game of trying to follow what’s going on was what kept me going, but I was always aware of the fact that I was watching a movie. It was too much work.
I did not care for all the shooting. There was constant gun fire by bad guys lurking in dreams. What happens when you get killed in a dream? Does it matter? The problem was that every time within seconds of entering a dream, bullets were flying. Armies of bad guys were always chasing the good guys, and the good guys hardly ever got scratched. And the motives of the bad guys, as well as the goals of the good guys, were fundamentally not pressing and therefore unreal.
Where the movie excelled was the music. The score, by Hans Zimmer, was entirely different from any other I can remember, very well done and used extensively to accentuate the action and the situations. It’s not the kind of music that would work in a soundtrack by itself. But working with the images and particularly the thoughts, it gives you goosebumps.
Here is the score:
There are a lot of reasons to watch this movie, since it is different from any other, a whole different concept, but the most compelling one is the music.