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Inception This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Christopher Nolan is living the life. In the span of ten years, he's gone from obscure indie filmmaker to big-name Hollywood director. Not only that, but Nolan's The Dark Knight remains as one of the most popular films to come out in the last decade that both critics and casual viewers could enjoy. While Inception hasn't gotten as much coverage as TDK, there are plenty of people - myself included - who having been looking forward to Nolan's follow-up to his action-thriller/superhero blockbuster. Having finished the film, I can say that Inception is an exciting and smart, yet very streamlined, film that puts on a nice twist on the heist genre.

Because the film's more enjoyable and immersing when you know as little as possible, it's going to be difficult to actually write a brief outline of the plot. In other words, you'll have to forgive any crypticness on my part as I'm only trying to preserve the secrets of the film. Anyway, Inception follows Dom Cobb, an "extractor", and his team which specializes in dream theft. With special technology and highly-trained teammates (comprised of "architects", "point men", etc), the team routinely takes on jobs that involve stealing confidential secrets from top CEOs and businessmen. After a seemingly normal job, the team takes on a special mission that will require more than just the average crew.

The film's visually-mindblowing, that's for sure. The imagery and the creative use of cinematography are richly-detailed and create a world that's interested in meshing together the elements of the real world with the elements of a dream world. Don't expect anything dreamlike or surreal in this film, as the ambiguity between what's real and what's not real is part of the focal point of the entire film. That said, the slick style of the film looks extremely well and blends together a variety of backgrounds. If you're a noir fan, for instance, you'll really like the dreams of the Asian crime boss, which slightly resemble Orson Welles' famous noir films. Perhaps you like James Bond-esque films? If so, then you'll probably like the style of the forger's dreams. With an eye for detail and some creative cinematography, the film's visuals just look great.

The cast of Inception is interesting as well. The group of "dream thieves" all have distinct and likable personalities which makes for a good set of characters. At the same time, however, we only get to know a few of these people on a deeper level. Those individuals we do get to know - Cobb, Ariadne, and Arthur (slightly) - are well-written characters and we can establish connections with them because of their emotional backgrounds. They're not fantastic or anything, but they provide a backbone for the film. The rest of the cast may have a few charming faces but, to me, the others seemed much more forgettable and bland. This isn't to say they weren't interesting, but the fact that I can't recall any of their names isn't a good sign. Though it has some deeper characters, I found that the film seems more focused on story than on character.

The concept's very fascinating and highly original - there's no argument there. At first, I wasn't too thrilled with the fact that the film kept establishing and explaining the rules of the mythos. "I got it", I thought, "A 'kick' is a means to wake someone up. You don't need to repeat this over and over again". As the film progressed, however, I found that these rules probably needed to be looked over. Without the explanations, most audience members would probably be lost in a narrative that's as layered as this. In other words, I'm a bit iffy on the matter. The concept is intriguing but I'm not sure if I needed a constant narration to help explain events to me.

Now, I know it looks like I didn't like this movie that much from this review. Don't get me wrong, though, I thought that the film was great. It wasn't fantastic and it was far from flawless, but the film was highly entertaining and captivated both my sense of imagination and my taste of visual art. The characters, while not the most memorable, are still interesting and hold their own within this creative narrative. That said, though, I felt that the film wasn't on the same intellectual level of Nolan's previous films. I'm not saying The Dark Knight or Memento were philosophical films, but they felt much smarter than this. This is probably because the film seems geared toward mainstream audiences, as the "narration aid" and flashy third-act prove. The first 2/3rd of the film may have felt streamlined but they were still thought-provoking nonetheless. The third act, on the other hand, seemed to drag and was filled to the brim with an action scene that was 20 minutes too long.

As a whole, Inception is a great film that mixes together elements of sci-fi, noir, and spy fiction. It may have some big flaws but, for a year that's been so poor for cinema, the film is a breath of fresh air.




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