Monday, July 26, 2010

Inception: How Nolan Broke Into Every Geek's Mind pt. 1

Level 1...

"Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange."

He can't do this. It's virtually unheard off. It defies all logic, precedent, and common sense. How often I have heard fellow geeks and nerds comment snark-ly the following, "Smart movies can't do well at the box office, most regular people won't get them, and they'll get frustrated at having to think too much." Sigh, how wrong they were.

The Director

Director - Writer, Christopher Nolan has done something few thought possible. He's known for his amazing ability to direct dark and sometimes noir-ish type movies. Case in point the Dark Knight. In fact that film did so well that it is know #3 in all time box-offices gross (domestic), arguably the best Comic book movie of all time. So how could he follow that? Surely not with an original movie, that's smart, visually compelling, an incredibly complex plot, has amazing acting, has a lot of dialogue and captures the viewing public like few other movie's ever have! Except that is exactly what he's done with Inception.

The Story

Imagine you could share your dreams. Imagine that you could construct an entire world in your mind that others could walk around and interact with? That's initial conceit setting of the entire premise. This is a dream world as in the fun house impossible physics of an MC Escher painting. This is a real dimension, based off our real world physics, populated and filled by the dreamers subconscious.

If such a thing were possible, than it would also be possible for someone to use our own subconscious minds against us, exposing our darkest secrets, our biggest regrets, and quite possibly fundamentally altering our image of the real world. that is where Mr. Cobb and his team comes in.

In the movie the technology exists, and we aren't bombarded by the how, or the technical specs. You can enter a shared dream with a subject, and said subject populates the dream which has been created by an architect (in this case a real architect). If you are killed in the dream, you awake to the real world and your fine. No mess no fuss. To awaken normally from the dream you either wait until the drugs used to induce such a state ware off, or use a kick. (ie invoking a response via the appropriate stimulus.)

The Cast

Nolan has some help making this movie incredible of course. No matter how good the source material, the characters must bring the story to life. The stars of this film do this, and do it with such ease and charisma that it makes it nigh impossible to not admire their acting. The startling thing about Inception is the absence of a single weak performance.

Leonardo DiCaprio is at his best. His character (Cobb) is the central figure of the film. He is both hero and villain (we learn this later). His performance as Cobb sucks the viewer into the film. He brings someone to root for, even while we know what he does is morally questionable. Cobb is a man who has been cut off from his family, and living each day with just one hope in mind, finding away back to his children. He gets his chance when he encounters Saito (Ken Watanabe) a very powerful executive of an energy company with a 'job' that involves someone who has Cobb's particular skills. Saito comes across as an intelligent well-bred and confident man, not unlikable. Yet somehow he remains emotionally distant as an employer should.

Joining Cobb in performing the 'job' is Arthur, the 'point man'(J Gordon-Levitt). His job is to protect Cobb as he delves deeper into the subconscious, he is a loyal friend, and very good at his job. Gordon-Levitt has been an up and coming actor for some years now, this film shows off just how good of an actor he has become. Rather then being a distraction, he adds to every scene he is in, and enhances the overall experience through his presence and well disciplined craft.

Equaling J Gordon-Levitt is Tom Hardy, playing 'the forger' Eames. Eames comes off as an extremely intelligent scientist, someone who enjoys dreams for how they allow him to be someone else entirely. He's snarky, sarcastic, and deeply charismatic. His relationship with Arthur is both hilarious and familial. As the job progresses we see just what this Brit is capable of and why he is so confident in his abilities. Ellen Page plays Ariadne, a young architecture student who cobb recruits to assist him complete 'the job'. She is not your typical female heroine, she's plain, very smart, and deeply intrigued by the possibilities the dream world offers her. She's beautiful, but no overtly sexy, allowing her to be much more than simply eye candy (take note Mr. Bay).

Level 2.... up next...

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