FILM RATING: 5 stars (revised from my initial rating of 4.5 stars in the review below)
NOTE: READ MY LATEST REVIEW IN ADDITION TO THIS ONE.
It’s been almost 12 hours since I saw Inception (2010), director Christopher Nolan’s latest filmmaking masterpiece. My one word to summarize this flick is AWESOME. This is truly a stunning piece of cinema in just about every way. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. The story is well written, suspenseful, and interesting…the acting is top notch…the music is phenomenal (Hans Zimmer of course)…the cinematography spectacular…and the special effects are incredible. And it’s a big budget summer blockbuster that is sure to make hundreds of millions if not a billion dollars. While this film won’t beat Avatar (2009) at the box office, it’s the film that I wish Avatar was. It’s the film that’s better than the 10 films nominated for the Best Picture Oscar in 2009. It’s both an action/thriller/suspense juggernaut and a contemplative philosophical/psychological labyrinth. It’s rare now days that a movie can get me just purely excited like a kid on a sugar high, antsy to see a movie on opening day. But also get my mind and soul intrigued and stimulated as an adult. Inception is one of those rare movies that does that and got me into the theater on opening day…at 10 AM no less! The last film I think that did that was Gladiator (2000). This has got to be an Oscar contender for 2010 considering that The Dark Knight (2008), also directed by Nolan, was nominated for 8 Oscars and won 2, including Heath Ledger’s posthumous win for Best Supporting Actor. And this movie far surpasses The Dark Knight in my humble opinion, as much as I enjoyed that picture as well. My biggest quandary is now how to fit this film into my Top 100 movie list, where it definitely belongs. It’s definitely the best film of 2010 so far. And one of the best in the last decade. It’s movies like this that inspire me to be both an Architect and a Filmmaker. And ironically, this movie is a lot about architecture. Architecture of both buildings and the mind. I’ve known this for awhile, but it’s so clear to me now that I became an Architect to become a Filmmaker. My frustration with architecture in reality is that it isn’t as spectacular as the architecture I build in my mind. And movies are the place where the two meet.
If you want a good review of the plot of this movie, read Roger Ebert’s review. I really won’t even attempt to summarize this film…it would be too much work, and honestly, you just have to see it…in the theater on the big screen! That’s the power and beauty of great films is that they really defy words alone. That’s why they are on film IMO. You’ve got to experience them with all of your senses to fully feel them and understand them. Like the title and premise of the movie, this movie has planted ideas in my head that keep building and now I can’t stop thinking about this movie, as well as its meaning for my own life. The best films do that…they seep in to our subconscious and plant themselves there, causing god only knows what. And there is the idea of Inception, fully realized in film as well as life itself. Nolan has obviously crafted this story from ideas within his mind and its influences from the world of film and his own life experiences. I can definitely see the influences of his own films like Memento (2000) and Insomnia (2002), both films about the psychology of the mind. But of course there is also a bit of The Matrix (1999) and The Bourne Identity (2002) within Inception as well. And while Inception does feel a little familiar at times because of all of its influences, I let that slide. Film is not a static environment and filmmakers are certainly influenced by other films like any other aspect of our culture. We’re really telling the same stories that the Greeks told thousands of years ago. They’ve just got a different context and upgraded visuals.
I watched Memento this afternoon as well. I had recorded it earlier in the week on my DVR after being reminded of it from something about Inception/Nolan. It was only the second time I’ve seen the movie, the first being 9 or 10 years ago when it came out on DVD. I remember that I really didn’t “get” Memento the first time and didn’t really appreciate it. The way the story was told was complex, being told both backwards and forwards at the same time, in fragments. I think it was partly due to my young age that I just didn’t appreciate Memento as much back then. But I really appreciated it today. It’s not at the same level as Inception, but the ideas at its core go hand in hand with it. The questions of “reality” that Nolan poses in both Memento and Inception are interesting to say the least. Memento is a much smaller scale film but I see now how influential it was now to Nolan himself, as well as the rest of the world of film. The film (500) Days of Summer, with its jumbled fragmented timeline, owes a nod to Memento. And apparently Nolan started working on the story and screenplay for Inception while filming Memento.
There are many thoughts, ideas, and feelings that I got from Inception today going through me. And I doubt I will fully realize them all in this blog right now. I also think that Inception is one of those movies like The Matrix or Memento that needs to be seen a second time to get a better grasp on it. Once you get through it once, you can pay attention to details that are hard to maybe keep up with the first time when you are simply trying to stay with the story. I’m probably going to see this one again in the theater in the next few weeks. I captured a lot of screen stills from the trailers to this film…this simply such a visually stunning movie…enjoy all of them!