Myself and a number of other journalists had just seen Christopher Nolan’s highly-anticipated sci-fi thriller, “Inception,” only you wouldn’t have known it from our facial expressions.
Shocked, lethargic, affliction–you’d think that we had just watched our favorite team lose a Game 7.
“Inception,” Nolan’s follow-up to “The Dark Knight” is an astonishing work, don’t get me wrong. The concept is imaginative and original and I have nothing but praise for Warner Bros. for releasing such an ambitious tentpole. But I’d be lying to you if I said that 40% of the movie didn’t go over my head. (not to mention left me with a substantial headache afterward)
And I think a lot of reactions, like my own, will initially defend the movie because we appreciate Christopher Nolan and “The Dark Knight” so, that we’ll ‘have to see it again’ in order to fully comprehend what we just saw, but this naiveté, if you will, will not be as acceptable by the average viewer and ultimately hurt the word-of-mouth factor sooner than WB would like.
“This movie’s so different and I don’t think people understand that yet,” one studio exec notes. “You have A-list talent, a clever campaign and a PG-13 rating, not to mention rave reviews; normally fabulous elements for widespread appeal.”
So far, Nolan’s big-budget heist pic is tracking like crazy and will likely make a killing this weekend at the box office. (Facebook and Twitter have been inundated with “Can’t wait!!!” and “Dying to see it!!” updates) And yes, the incomprehension and backlash in itself could, theoretically, fill the seats with the curious-minded. But I’m afraid a lot of theatergoers, those expecting “The Dark Knight” or others simply wanting a popcorn movie (which is about 50% of audiences), will simply find this movie to be too dense and frustrating.
The sci-fi pic stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a dream-thief who, along with his ‘extraction’ team (Joseph Gordon Levitt, Ellen Page and Tom Snow), must plant an idea into the mind of a wealthy businessman, played by Cillian Murphy. (Marion Cotillard and Ken Watanabe also star.)
It’s not that the performances, themselves, ever falter, the acting is wonderful (with the exception of an at-times redundant Ellen Page). The real challenges are found in the convoluted plot which Nolan twists and turns at lightning speed. For instance, one blistering action sequence takes a whopping forty-five minutes to unravel, taking place between not one but four different dream worlds. Four. That’s like taping your eyes open and watching the flash-sideways sequences on “Lost” on repeat (and steroids) for forty-five minutes straight. Furthermore, I found myself pausing intermittenly throughout the film for twenty seconds at a time, missing critical dialogue, trying to wrap my head around exactly what the hell I was watching.
Again, the subject matter will no doubt insatiate Nolan fans and brainiacs, but, ultimately, the dense action deprives the film of any generous emotions, something that will turn off a number of viewers, females in particular.
Who knows–perhaps this movie will play like progressive music where upon first listen we resist and toil at the initial sounds but after multiple run-throughs, it slowly becomes our favorite band (and possibly wins a number of awards along the way).
As a fan of Christopher Nolan’s, I, for one, will probably see “Inception” another two times before I reach a verdict. And maybe that’s exactly Nolan’s objective here: to leave us all reeling like the minature tops Leo DiCaprio spins throughout the film until we wind down and get a better perspective.
All I can say is that moviegoers expecting to see “The Dark Knight” or “The Matrix” this weekend have no idea what they’re getting themselves into.
For better or worse, “Inception” is unlike any blockbuster you have ever seen.
Just get ready for “the kick!”