Inception is yet another extremely well-made film by Christopher Nolan**. A fascinating idea executed perfectly by a strong ensemble of actors and a high-caliber technical crew.

The visual effects are very impressive and occasionally wow-inducing, so seamless and story-serving that they are almost overlooked. Avatar is a drastically different movie from Inception, but each uses visual effects perfectly, integrating them as part of the narrative rather than mere flashy eye candy.

Given the vibe of confusion emanating from Inception's buzz, I expected a labyrinthine story but was pleasantly surprised by its simplicity. The basic narrative structure is complex but fairly straightforward. It requires attention and thought but not to a painful degree, creating an excellent cinematic experience for those who want a dose of intellect with their entertainment. The production team deserves significant credit for that, as the various unique visuals made it easy to track the different arcs occurring simultaneously.

The film's primary shortcoming was the relatively weak emotional link. While most all the characters were likable, only one was fully three-dimensional, and his main emotional arc was more intriguing than engaging, interesting more as a plot device than for emotional reasons. Perhaps another viewing would enhance the emotional ties, which were overshadowed by the compelling main narrative. Inception was still a magnetic thriller despite that flaw, which speaks to how strong the mental and visual pulls were.

Inception may have been undone a bit by its own expectations. Despite reading little about it, but the positive buzz was unavoidable. I expected at least an 8 out of 10, so when I got exactly that, I wasn't underwhelmed; I was simply whelmed. Just like the United States soccer team, the movie met expectations so precisely that more seemed possible.

The best films execute inherently great emotional narratives in near-flawless fashion. Inception was a great story executed in that way but lacked power-infusing themes. 8/10 for the best film thus far this year (okay...it's actually the first 2010 movie I've seen in a theater).

**Can we discuss how ridiculously good Christopher Nolan is? Look at his six major films. Memento and The Dark Knight were two of the ten best films last decade. The Prestige and Batman Begins weren't far behind. Insomnia was well-made and decent, though a couple notches behind the other five, including Inception. That's an absurd career-opening run. He's the Albert Pujols of film directors.

No comments: