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Mini-review: Inception

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Finally got around to seeing Inception on Friday afternoon.

Although the previews looked promising, I went into it with somewhat lowered expectations. Not sure why. I have a vague idea that various friends may have compared it to Eternal Sunshine, which I didn't like; but I'm not sure of that, and I carefully avoided most reviews of Inception, so I didn't know much beyond what was in the preview.

And I ended up quite liking the movie.

No real spoilers in the following, but if there's anyone left who hasn't seen it and wants to, and doesn't want to know anything about it, feel free to skip the rest of this entry.

Somehow I think I missed the fact that it was a Christopher Nolan film. It's possible that knowing that would have set my expectations higher; then again, nothing of his since Memento has really wowed me, though I did think The Prestige was pretty good.

I think I would rank Inception perhaps a little higher than Prestige (which had some amazing stuff, but also some significant flaws), though still lower than Memento. One thing that impresses me about Nolan is that (at least in those three films; perhaps not so much in his others) he seems to assume that the audience is smart and paying attention; there's complicated and twisty stuff going on, and although he helps the audience follow it (by good editing, among other things), he doesn't stop to overexplain it.

Anyway. Inception isn't perfect by any means. I kind of wanted it to do a little more with the ability to alter reality in a dream (I was expecting a little more Matrix-y stuff), and I'm not convinced that all the complicated “kick” stuff and all the stuff about what happens when you die in a dream were internally consistent. And I don't think it passes the Bechdel test. And I saw two of the core twists coming ahead of time.

Then again, both of those twists were excellent and compelling twists, and I think I didn't see several others coming. And I liked the plot, and the complicated nesting of dreams; the whole movie is really cleverly constructed, but (as with Memento) I felt like the cleverness was furthering the purpose of good and unusual storytelling rather than just being clever for its own sake.

I liked the actors, too; in particular, I've always liked DiCaprio, and I thought Ellen Page was pretty good (though it took me half the movie to remember where I'd seen her before, and after that I had a hard time not seeing occasional echoes of Juno in her).

And I quite liked the very ending, but I can't talk about that without spoilers, so I'll stop here.

So my overall reaction: has some flaws, but overall good stuff.

(I've liked almost all the movies I've seen this year; either it's a good year for movies, or I've been lucky picking which ones to watch.)

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