i saw the trailer a few months ago. i thought it looked awesome, and christopher nolan was directing it. but the special effects turned me off. i prefer stories, good stories, and movies that have intricate special effects usually have a lacking story to mask. (yes, i’m talking about you remake of CLASH OF THE TITANS.)
with INCEPTION, i was very wrong.
the story of inception has to do with how people dream, and how these dreams relate to the mind. inception itself has to do with the start of an idea–that one moment when an idea begins, and blossoms, and becomes yours. and this is not a very light subject to deal with–especially in a hollywood movie.
i guess that’s where the special effects come in. you draw people in with your flash, amaze them for a bit, and then hit them with an actual story. and before people could run out of theaters screaming that they don’t want to stimulate their mind, they are hooked.
“she’ll come back.”
there is a scene in the movie where cobb (leonardo di caprio) introduces ariadne (ellen page) to the world of dream-shaping–and she gets a heavy dose of violence in her first outing. she tells cobb off, and storms off. cobb, instead of being worried, just tells his associate that ariadne will come back–because she’s already had a taste of this new world. and that’s true for the viewers as well. once you’ve seen what INCEPTION has to offer, even if its ideas are new and unexplored, you can’t help but stay, or come back, and be immersed in its world.
ariadne is the anchor. while cobb is the main character of the story, it is ariadne that actually takes the viewers along the ride. she is our eyes and our voice in the movie, and she never fails us.
in most stories, printed or filmed, the audience love to give their thoughts, their opinions and suggestions, to the characters. we can’t help it. we tell them that they’re about to do something stupid, we tell them what they need to know, we hope that they will do the right thing–but we really don’t have any hold on what the characters would actually do. their fates have been tied up before we were even exposed to them.
christopher nolan’s INCEPTION seems to have anticipated this. and in my opinion, that’s why INCEPTION has been such a hit all over the world (or, at least, where it’s already showing). the viewers were given a voice in ariadne. we are able to see viewer’s logic in a movie that doesn’t seem to have been made for the casual viewer. and the characters actually take her thoughts into account, they actually listen to her–and through her, to us. and it feels wonderful.
again, i’m not discounting the flash of the special effects. the special effects are also astounding. but ultimately, i don’t think it adds anything to the movie or the story. the only time i actually thought it was important was during the actual inception. when they went to a second layer of dream and arthur (joseph gordon-levitt) had to navigate through a hotel, and insure a kick (a way of waking up people in a sedated dream), without gravity.
if ariadne was the eyes and voice of the audience, arthur was, well, the eye-candy. there is only one fight scene worth mentioning in the movie–and that’s arthur’s fight with the projections in layer 2. and i wouldn’t even dream of trying to describe it. it’s simply something you have to see for yourself. in fact, this might even be my reason to buy the eventual dvd. because i have to see that fight scene again. over and over, maybe. because it was astounding.
so why is the flashy special effects important in this particular layer, and this particular time? well, the characters establish that dreams are affected by outside stimulants. in the first layer, it was raining. so in the second layer, when shit starts happening in the first layer, the rain actually plays a part (a small one) in the second layer. but it isn’t until the free-fall in the first layer that shit starts happening in the second layer too: lack of gravity.
it adds tension, suspense–and the foreboding feeling that something is bound to go wrong.
you see, the “kick” i mentioned earlier is very reliant on gravity. and without that “kick”, the characters will be forced to live out the entire dream–which can take decades–if they survive the increasingly-violent projections.
and that’s when i realized, with the special effects becoming really integral to the story, that i might have just found my favorite movie of 2010.
i can probably continue to go on and on about INCEPTION. but i wouldn’t want to bore you. and besides, discussion for this movie is better in real-time; where you can debate about the ending, specific parts, or even the importance of each character’s name. this is a thinking man’s movie–a very welcoming one for those who are just casual movie-watchers.
do i recommend you watch this movie? yes, yes, a thousand times yes.
NOTE: photos included in this post are courtesy of the INCEPTION website.