Sunday, July 18, 2010

On All Levels

Third time's a charm. Mrs. Kyality and I didn't think we'd have the opportunity to see Christopher Nolan's epic mind-bender opening weekend. But when the chance presented itself, it took last-minute phone calls to three sitters before we were jumping in the Clubman on the way to the theater.

Sure there's been some fantastic looking trailers and lots of Twitter hype around this one—but you have to wonder, in a summer of suck (other than TS3)—is this flick as great as they say? The answer is: Yes… on all levels.

Inception is Nolan at the top of his game. When you look at his filmography thus far, everything he's done up to this point has prepared him in some way to make this movie. He set the stage for himself with indie thrillers like Memento and ensemble-cast blockbusters like the Batman reboot. He's stayed true to his brand by growing it ever so slightly—one film at a time—unlike M.Knight who's obviously staggering as he strives to slip free from sleeper-hit stardom.

But Nolan nails it and the proof is in the details. Even though the cast is chock full of stars, he uses them like honed tools. Drawing on each of the actors' inherent baggage to round out his characters' backstories completely worked for him. For instance, when Ellen Page enters the screen, our minds automatically sprinkle a little bit of Juno's nobleness onto her character.

He goes as far as to use Edith Piaf's classic anthem "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien" as a thread throughout the film. That's of course a song that was masterfully delivered by Marion Cotillard when she took home an Oscar for her portrayal of none other than Edith Piaf in the magnificent biopic La vie en rose. Again, choices such as this add degrees of depth and detail.

Finally, you can't talk about Inception without mentioning the effects. Sure, you've heard how awesome they are, but what you perhaps haven't heard is how essential they are to the story. Nolan takes no cheap shots with his use of visual effect, minimal CG and intricate action sequences. They are mandated by the story. Even his gratuitous use of beautiful slo-mo shots are technically being shown in real-time from the perspective of the characters. So get your movie fix filled with this smart, satisfying epic that nails it on all levels.

PS: I also loved the Hans Zimmer score and the awesome alpine siege sequence.

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