INCEPTION just never fully took with Harry
Now - before we get too far into this, let me explain what happened with INCEPTION, and why it has taken me so damn long to formally comment for y'all.
The initial screening of INCEPTION I saw was about a week and a half prior to release, but was the day after the FAMOUS MONSTERS CONVENTION, which I absolutely got next to zero sleep during. Capone is a late night raider if you know what I mean. So there I was at 10am, a tad sore, and excited to see INCEPTION, but severely sleep deprived. Not a good state to be in for a movie about sleeping & dreaming.
My initial impression, from that screening, where I missed easily 30-40 minutes due to napping... well, I thought the film was exquisitely crafted, meticulously slaved over - but honestly... it put me to sleep. And I don't sleep during movies. I'm the guy that does BUTT-NUMB-A-THON - this was a film that I was mad excited about, but it just felt like I was missing something that the world had attributed to the film.
I decided that I couldn't review the film till I saw it fully charged and ready to go. That's when Comic Con slammed down upon me. Over the course of the next two to three weeks, the world conspired to keep me out of the theater. About a week ago, Yoko and I finally got back into the theater to see it.
INCEPTION is a film made up of great performances by actors that I absolutely love. Seriously, Tom Hardy is going to own our shorts when George Miller unleashes him on FURY ROAD - of that I am positive. Marion is just amazing. The photography in INCEPTION is immaculate. The story is tight, intricate and the sort of story that promotes great conversations about the perceptions of what it all means. INCEPTION is a coffee house film discussion.
But it still kind of underwhelms the shit out of me.
None of the action, save for Joseph Gordon Levitt's amazing zero G hall fight is close to being amazing for me. In particular - I was incredibly disappointed by the Ski sequence. It was obviously ripped straight from the realm of James Bond, but I'm sorry - in ON HER MAJESTY"S SECRET SERVICE - it was done better, with more emotion, more at stake, more to care about. Because this is all a dream, I just don't invest weight into anything that is happening.
I cared about Leo's tormented psyche in Scorsese's vastly superior SHUTTER ISLAND earlier this year. Here... I got no sense of who Leo and Marion were as a couple. All we get is the damaged reflection, of a guy who steals ideas... and here is planting an idea that isn't to end a war, to save anyone, but he's just a fucking corporate tool. Someone that is being sent in to destroy a company that has a rival company that wants to be more powerful. Fuck everyone involved. Seriously, I could care less about all of this.
The most quotable line of the film is the "You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling." well, that's the line that haunts the entire film for me. Tom Hardy delivers the line with relish, but even the punchline, pulling up that grenade launcher is... frankly lame. Because if you can "dream" a weapon up - that makes me wonder what the hell these people are doing dreaming up regular firearms.
If it goes back to the notion of not wanting to call attention to the dream itself - well, after the Hotel layer, everybody involved in the Dream Sting is now fully aware that they are in a dream, so take the rails off. Let's dream BIG. And when I say dream big, I'm not talking about a subpar wannabe James Bond ski assault.
I also got zero sense of research for these Dream Landscapes. There's nothing peppered from the targets interest. Other than a couple of business contacts. Does this guy not have a girlfriend, a best friend... anything? I mean, Ellen Page is an architect that creates a landscape for Cillian Murphy's character is supposed to project everything he is into. Apparently he's a guy that watches James Bond movies, cuz that's what he projects into his dream.
I don't know. As much as I appreciate the loving care that everyone in this film put into this - it just doesn't work for me. Leo is acting his ass off here, but I don't know if I like his character. He's a pretty loathsome fella to me.
I came away from INCEPTION, thinking about how much I prefer WIZARD OF OZ, DREAMSCAPE, SPELLBOUND, BRAINSTORM and NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET PART III: DREAM WARRIORS.
There is more pure imagination at play when Ellen Page is first playing in the dream construct with Leo - than at any other point in the film. I kept wanting the world to be turned upon its ear. I wanted to see impossible things as simply the landscape for the mind. I don't know about you - but my dreams are influenced by artists, emotional states, memories both lived and watched... in dreams I can fly, the ground can suck you under, there's more to it than just putting one foot in front of the other.
For a dream, INCEPTION is just too grounded. To Nolan I would repeat his own line, "You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling."
The reason that bugs me so is here we have a filmmaker that can capture in lucid clarity pretty much anything, and when he creates a property that could deliver anything, he delivers a very limited level of imagination.
I found myself returning to Terry Gilliam's THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS - where there's a far more personal, imaginative and superior imagination on display telling a greater metaphoric story and not getting half the response from folks.
Of course - maybe these are the dreams of executives. In which case, I'll choose the dreams of artists. Every time.