Saturday, July 24, 2010

Don't think of elephants - but do go to INCEPTION

It's pretty straightforward to extract an idea from someones head, but a whole different ballgame to implant an original idea in there in such a way that makes the person think they came up with the idea themselves.

That's the central premise of Inception, the latest movie from Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan, and if you can get your head around this fact as well as: time moves 10 times faster in your dream than outside it, you can dream within a dream and a fall will wake you up, then you'll have no problem following the threads and layers of this complex masterpiece of modern cinema.

Leonardo DiCaprio has long shed his teen heartthrob image to become one of the finest actors of his generation and doesn’t disappoint here as the central character Cobb, a specialist in retrieving secrets from peoples minds for hire. He lives in constant guilt over the death of his wife Mal [Marion Public Enemies Cotillard] who invades his dreams as well as the subconscious of those he works with including the excellent Joseph G.I.Joe Gordon-Levitt as Arthur, Eames [Tom Star Trek: Nemesis Hardy], Saito [Ken The Last Samurai Wanatabe] and Ellen X-Men: The Last Stand Page who portrays Ariadne the character through whose own education on the subject, we learn about the dreamscape. Supported by Cillian Murphy, Pete Postlethwaite, Tom Berenger and a now almost obligatory appearence in a Nolan film by Michael Caine, needless to say with such a stellar cast, this movie would be above average even if it was badly directed, shot, scored and written. It’s none of these things however as each of the production elements are the very finest today.

The movie is as twisting and turning as Nolan's other efforts, The Prestige and Mamento, the latter an adaptation of a work by Phillip K. Dick. Dick who wrote stories that became the movies Minority Report, Blade Runner and A Scanner Darkly, to name but a few, certainly is one of Nolan's great influences and it has taken the obvious writing talent of Nolan himself to craft a story that is worthy of Dick's influence rather than being yet another adaptation. This means – just in case you haven’t got the message yet - that you are required to a) have a brain and b) bring it to the cinema with you on this rare occasion. Following the threads and layers of what the characters are experiencing and what they are intending to do requires clarity of thought, concentration and intelligence; sadly elements lacking in most of the younger generation of cinemagoers based on comments I overheard upon exit out of the auditorium.

Nolan knows exactly what he’s doing as proved from the success of his Batman movies and here he navigates us through an amazing journey, the likes of which we have never been on before. Two recognisable tools he uses here are Wally Pfister his traditional director of photography who can shoot with such resonance that you’ll remember the images long after you’ve seen it, just as you have done with The Dark Knight's IMAX sequences. Just as importantly, Nolan enlisted another Batman alumnus, the great Hans Zimmer himself to compose a hauntingly melodic yet viscerally rhythmic score which fits the on screen images like a finely tailored glove and maintains it’s own when listened to outside the celluloid experience.

This is not just a thinky psychological mumbo-jumbo thriller though, it sports some incredible CGI work, possibly more than Nolan has ever used before [he's not a fan of CGI] and it sports some incredible action sequences, including a lesson on “dreaming bigger” when you need a gun and an incredibly unique fight scene with shifting gravitational forces. They do more than break up the complex expositionary dialogue however, they are at the core of this magnificent spectacle and in 10 years time they will be spoken about with the reverence that we now speak of the sequences in The Matrix today.

Final Verdict: Simply outstanding. Everything here is world class. Undoubtedly one of the best movies of the year and will hopefully set the standard for science fiction if not all movies for this decade. More of this please.

Colonel Creedon rating: *****+

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