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TOM FRANCIS
REGRETS THIS ALREADY

Hello! I'm Tom. I designed a game called Gunpoint, about rewiring things and punching people, and now I'm working on a new one called Heat Signature, about sneaking aboard randomly generated spaceships. Here's some more info on all the games I've worked on, here's the podcast I do, here are the videos I make on YouTube, here are some of the articles I wrote for PC Gamer, and here are two short stories I wrote for the Machine of Death collections.

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By me. Uses Adaptive Images by Matt Wilcox.

Hitman header tunnel

Rewarding Creative Play Styles In Hitman

Far Cry Primal Thumbnail

Postcards From Far Cry Primal

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Solving XCOM’s Snowball Problem

Kill Zone and Bladestorm

Kill Zone And Bladestorm

BAFTA Featured

An Idea For More Flexible Indie Game Awards

Sectors Header

Teaching Heat Signature’s Ship Generator To Think In Sectors

DXHR Open area

What Works And Why: Multiple Routes In Deus Ex

Heat Signature Natural Numbers

Natural Numbers In Game Design

Pharma Header

Naming Drugs Honestly In Big Pharma

Writing vs Programming

Make A Game Tutorial Thumbnail Featured IMage

Let Me Show You How To Make A Game

New Heat Signature Video: Galaxies, Suction And Wrench-Throwing

Her Story banner

What Works And Why: Nonlinear Storytelling In Her Story

My Idea For An ‘Unconventional Weapon’ Game

From Gunpoint To Heat Signature: A Narrative Journey

The Cost Of Simplifying Conversations In Videogames

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What Works And Why: Invisible Inc

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Our Super Game Jam Episode Is Out

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What Works And Why: Sauron’s Army

Heat Signature Talk

Showing Heat Signature At Fantastic Arcade And EGX

Projects

What I’m Working On And What I’ve Done

Murder, She Wrote

The Formula For An Episode Of Murder, She Wrote

Heat Signature Wide 2

Heat Signature Needs An Artist And A Composer

Heat Signature Floorplans Header

Improving Heat Signature’s Randomly Generated Ships, Inside And Out

Gunpoint Steam Workshop

Gunpoint Patch: New Engine, Steam Workshop, And More

Distance Header

Distance: A Visual Short Story For The Space Cowboy Game Jam

The Magic Circle

Raising An Army Of Flying Dogs In The Magic Circle

Floating Point Blog Launch

Floating Point Is Out! And Free! On Steam! Watch A Trailer!

Floating Sine

Drawing With Gravity In Floating Point

Fault

What’s Your Fault?

Hoplite banner

The Randomised Tactical Elegance Of Hoplite

Gone Point

Here I Am Being Interviewed By Steve Gaynor For Tone Control

Heat Signature Thumbnail

Heat Signature: A Game About Sneaking Aboard Randomly Generated Spaceships

GRappling Hook Thumbnail

The Grappling Hook Game, Dev Log 6: The Accomplice

Alien Swarm Heroics

A Story Of Heroism In Alien Swarm

FTL Story

One Desperate Battle In FTL

Spelunky Banner

To Hell And Back In Spelunky

Game vs story graph

Games Vs Story 2

Gunpoint Breakdown

Gunpoint Development Breakdown

Max Payne 3

Five Things I Learned About Game Criticism In Nine Years At PC Gamer

This is how you die

My Short Story For The Second Machine Of Death Collection

Clouds

Not Being An Asshole In An Argument

Skyrim Diary - Frostmere

Playing Skyrim With Nothing But Illusion

Mainstream Games

How Mainstream Games Butchered Themselves, And Why It’s My Fault

A-Rock-and-a-Hard-Place-Trio-Jan

A Short Script For An Animated 60s Heist Movie

Dark Messiah

The Magical Logic Of Dark Messiah’s Boot

Arguing

Arguing On The Internet

Spelunky

Shopstorm, A Spelunky Story

Stealth Games

Why Are Stealth Games Cool?

Violence

E3’s Violence Overload, Versus Gaming’s Usual Violence Overload

Suspicious Manifesto

The Suspicious Developments manifesto

GDC

GDC Talk: How To Explain Your Game To An Asshole

Crosslink

Listening To Your Sound Effects For Gunpoint

Happiness

Understanding Your Brain

What Makes Games Good

What Makes Games Good

Seat Quest

A Story Of Plane Seats And Class

Deckard: Blade Runner, Moron

Beneath Suspicion

Avoiding Suspicion At The US Embassy

Open Worlds

An Idea For A Better Open World Game

Level Up

A Different Way To Level Up

BioShock Ending

How I Would Have Ended BioShock

Meet the Spy

My Script For A Team Fortress 2 Short About The Spy

Team Fortress 2

Team Fortress 2 Unlockable Weapon Ideas

Football Manager

Don’t Make Me Play Football Manager

EVE Assassins

EVE’s Assassins And The Kill That Shocked A Galaxy

GalCiv 2

My Galactic Civilizations 2 War Diary

Gnome

I Played Through Episode Two Holding A Goddamn Gnome

Machine of Death

My Short Story For The Machine Of Death Collection

Blood money and sex

Blood Money And Sex

AOL

A Woman’s Life In Search Queries

Second Life

First Night, Second Life

SWAT 4

SWAT 4: The Movie Script

Inception

Bad Inception Reviews

When I discovered Inception had a merely very good percentage of positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, I became fascinated by the bad ones. I expected a lot of writers who were simply confused, and largely that’s the case, but some of them seem to be trying for some kind of award for clumsy criticism.

Many of them, happily, are just terrible. This isn’t a round up of negative reviews. Some of them, like Salon’s, do a good job of explaining their opinion without whining, lying or embarrassing themselves. This is a round up of the other ones.

Eclipse Magazine

Inception gave me a strange sense of déjà vu, I felt like I saw this movie earlier in the year and didn’t like it when it was called Shutter Island.

D

Your words gave me a strange sense of deja vu, Eclipse Magazine. I felt like I’d read words about movies before, and I didn’t like them when they were your A-grade review of Shutter Island.

 

Review Express

While many critics are raving about Inception, I’ve never heard so many expressions like “What in the BLEEP was that about?” upon leaving the theater after seeing the film. And, although I don’t believe moviegoers are unintelligent, I can’t help comparing this movie’s transitions to someone reading the Cliff Notes of a Shakespeare play to a pre-school class. Inception becomes its own nightmare by trying to be “too smart.”

2/4

Who are you even quoting there?

 

Culture Catch

You’ll sit in your seat, possibly with overly salted popcorn, and immediately become bewildered. But then you’ll tell yourself the creative force behind Following (1998) and Memento (2000) is always in control. Of course you’ll soon know what’s happening. But a half hour later exasperation will start settling in over you like a cup of cherry Jell-o firming up in your fridge. Then another 20 minutes will pass, and you’ll start feeling like Timothy Leary’s severed, cryogenically preserved head. Will there be any relief arriving at all?

Your similes, like Timothy Leary’s severed head in a salty popcorn box of ill-set exasperation jell-o, are flimsy and smell bad.

 

MTV

And what about Dom Cobb himself? Is his unlikely moniker meant to suggest Dummkopf, the German word for a dope? That would seem entirely counterintuitive. But, as I say, whatever.

Inception is basically a complicated heist flick — there is no mystery to ponder and penetrate.

Thanks for taking the time to highlight that this is now the second time you have summarised your own point, in a review, as “Whatever”.

INCEPTION

What Would Toto Watch

For all of Nolan’s attention to detail, major logic holes jump off the screen without 3-D glasses. At one point someone is firing at the bad guys with a standard-issue weapon when another character suggests he ‘dream’ up a better gun.

Voila, a massive gun is suddenly on screen. Why don’t all the heroes try that trick?

For all your attention to detail, you didn’t pay any attention to detail. That isn’t what happens, and it’s explained several times why changing the dream too much is dangerous.

 

Associated Content

Reviews are ideally an assessment of a film’s value as entertainment or enlightenment, and should never be a necessary guide when attempting to figure out what in the world is going on in a movie. Such is the case with Christopher Nolan’s mind over matter blockbuster with a back to basics indie soul Inception, a confounding riddle of a story where the characters are lost inside one another’s dreams without a clue.

So is Inception accessible enough to plant the idea of an entertaining experience in viewer minds? In your dreams.

2/4

Such is what? What is the case? What? Inception is a review that isn’t a guide? Your review is a review that doesn’t need to be a guide? Isn’t that a good thing? Or are you saying your review is a necessary guide? Any of the nine ways to salvage the verbsputum you’ve dribbled there into a working paragraph result in a false one.

 

Wall Street Journal

It may still be impervious to criticism, simply because no one short of a NASA systems analyst will be able to articulate the plot.

The sometimes hallucinatory images erupting out of the narrative murk of Inception suggest that the entire enterprise was contrived as an alibi for special-effects wizardry.

I did it in two sentences, and I play computer games for a living. For my next trick, I will know what the word alibi means.

 

Bright Lights Film Journal

In(c)ept(ion)
At one point, well into the film’s (anti-)conflict, a newbie accomplice to Cobb, Ariadne (Ellen Page, an odd casting choice), lays groundwork with him over rapid gunfire – they can barely get out the explanations in between blasts. The shape of the scene is as odd as the choice to put them on what looks too much like Planet Hoth.

It may look like Planet Hoth because Planet Hoth was shot on planet Earth. In Norway. Star Wars didn’t actually make a planet.

 

Jacksonville.com

It’s emotionally icy, without a recognizable human being in it, and the story feels like nothing more than a con – an ambitious con to be sure, but one that’s made up as it goes along.

 

The New York Times

The accomplishments of ‘Inception’ are mainly technical, which is faint praise only if you insist on expecting something more from commercial entertainment. That audiences do – and should – expect more is partly, I suspect, what has inspired some of the feverish early notices hailing Inception as a masterpiece, just as the desire for a certifiably great superhero movie led to the wild overrating of The Dark Knight.

Yes, that’s what happens when you go into something with high expectations and they’re not met. You hail it as a masterpiece.

INCEPTION

Movieline

If the career of Christopher Nolan is any indication, we’ve entered an era in which movies can no longer be great. They can only be awesome, which isn’t nearly the same thing.

In Inception, Nolan does the impossible, the unthinkable, the stupendous: He folds a mirror version of Paris back upon itself; he stages a fight sequence in a gravity-free hotel room; he sends a train plowing through a busy city street. Whatever you can dream, Nolan does it in Inception. Then he nestles those little dreams into even bigger dreams, and those bigger dreams into gargantuan dreams, going on into infinity, cubed. He stretches the boundaries of filmmaking so that it’s, like, not even filmmaking anymore, it’s just pure “OMG I gotta text my BFF right now” sensation.

Wouldn’t it have been easier just to make a movie?

He’s got you, Chris. You should have made a movie! Why didn’t you think of it? You Dom Cobb, which MTV tell me is the same as a German insult. Truly, we live in a dark age of cinema where everything is depressingly awesome.

 

The East Bay Express

It boils down to an ordinary spy flick anyway, with laughable dialogue.

One way to salvage some fun with this blunderbuss would be to fall asleep while watching and dream up a better movie yourself. Try it. You’ll avoid a headache.

 

Indie Movies Online

Given that this is his third film in a row in which he deals with a wife who’s unbalanced to some degree (see also Shutter Island, Revolutionary Road), this loop looks to be spilling out from the frames of this feature. Back away from the unhinged women, Leo, before it’s too late. Maybe try a role addressing an alternate lifestyle for a change? Something like, um, J. Edgar Hoover? (*Note: the Hoover project, with Clint Eastwood directing, is supposedly DiCaprio’s next project.)

The best closing jokes are the ones you have to explain in parentheses afterwards.

In a telling moment at this reviewer’s screening, after a character asked, “Whose dream is it this time?” the audience chuckled in unison. Our thoughts exactly.

2.5/5

The audience laughing at that line is indeed telling: it’s telling you that was a joke. Misquoting and misunderstanding it doesn’t make it work as a gag in your review.

 

The Boston Phoenix

But this is a movie, an elaborate construct of illusions designed to extract money from paying audiences – or, in more ambitious cases, to implant something in their imaginations, such as a moral or a fantasy. Or a product placement. How like the line of work of our hero, Cobb (DiCaprio), since he and his colleagues extricate secret information from a target by entangling themselves in a deceiving dream.

Wow. A lot of the reviews I’ve quoted here make ponderous, cringe-worthy attempts to force some of the movies themes into their conclusion, but this – wow. It’s like you started, then changed your mind, then forged ahead anyway, then added a laborious explanation, but one that really only explains why the two things are completely different. I’m sort of in awe.

PHaa9adhszvNda_1_l

The New York Observer

And now, the motherlode. The New York Observer’s sprawling, frothing, delusional and atrociously written rant. It is both too monstrous to quote whole, and too egregious to single out just one part, so here are just some of the worst offenders.

At the movies, incomprehensible gibberish has become a way of life, but it usually takes time before it’s clear that a movie really stinks. Inception, Christopher Nolan’s latest assault on rational coherence, wastes no time. It cuts straight to the chase that leads to the junkpile without passing go, although before it drags its sorry butt to a merciful finale, you’ll be desperately in need of a “Get Out of Jail Free” card.

It’s sort of weirdly poetic that you open your review with a point about how immediately bad Inception is, and do so with a Monopoly metaphor so miserably shoehorned that no-one could think they were about to read a good review.

Like other Christopher Nolan head scratchers – the brainless Memento, the perilously inert Insomnia, the contrived illusionist thriller The Prestige, the idiotic Batman Begins and the mechanical, maniacally baffling and laughably overrated The Dark Knight – this latest deadly exercise in smart-aleck filmmaking without purpose from Mr. Nolan’s scrambled eggs for brains makes no sense whatsoever. Is it clear that I have consistently hated his movies without exception, and I have yet to see one of them that makes one lick of sense.

I don’t know, is it? Your sentence about the movie not making a lick of sense doesn’t, you know, that.

It’s the easiest kind of movie to make, because all you have to do is strike poses and change expressions. It all culminates on skis in the middle of a blizzard, as Leo is pursued by machine-gun-equipped snowmobiles, but you don’t even know who’s driving them. I have no idea what the market is for this jabbering twaddle-probably people who fritter away their time playing video games, which I’m willing to bet pretty much describes Christopher Nolan. He labors over turning out arty horror films and sci-fi action thrillers with pretensions to alternate reality, but he’s clueless about how to deal with reality, honest emotions or relevant issues.

It’s kind of hard to grapple with all of the crimes this paragraph commits, so let’s stick to the simplest: what arty horror films?

Phydaux: Zing!

Scott: Can't write? Review films!

Tweets that mention Bad Inception Reviews, by Tom Francis -- Topsy.com: [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tom Francis, Joe Russell, dmosbon, Anthony, John 3 and others. John 3 said: RT @Pentadact: A lot of reviewers hated Inception, and a lot of their reviews are hilariously shit. Round up! http://bit.ly/ineption [...]

Owen: I loved the movie, but I'm still not sure who the main character was.

Rasmus Widengård: Had to check out the NYTimes review in full; and was relieved to find it wasn't Manohla Dargis' work. Not that I know or care whether Inception is a good film, but I wouldn't want the one genuinely great film critic I know of be rendered a blubbering fool.

As for the Observer...it's Rex Reed.
Don't feed the racist troll.

Jen: I came across the New York Observer review this morning. Much laughter ensued!

John Walker: Each review does seem to boil down to, "I hated it because it was smarter than me."

It was smarter than me. I loved it for that.

People's interpreting smartness as "pretentious" or "smug" or whatever else is very demoralising.

But what's more frustrating in this case is that it DOES hold together as a coherent plot, if you put enough energy into thinking about it.

I now want to find out what all these people think about David Lynch films. Metacritic, tell me about Lost Highway!

Jaz: The main character was Moll. The whole thing was her dream.

David: The Observer opening with "I have hated every film by Nolan, even the ones that are generally considered to be good" suggests that this was not the correct critic to assign to review the film. It's like how, in a gaming context, you shouldn't give an RPG to a pure FPS fan to review.

VelvetFistIronGlove: Well, you must admit the NYTimes review pegged you firmly in the target market.

I didn't like Inception in the end, but that was due to disappointment. It didn't explore the ideas deeply enough, had too much in the way of explanations for the audience (I don't see how any critic could fail to understand the plot as presented), and was a bit too self-indulgent with it's action sequences, which did little to adevelop either the characters or the plot. I really enjoyed it, but I wanted more from it.

Chris: Haters gonna hate.

I can see this film not being for everyone: you sort of have to give yourself over to it to accept all the rules and just go, okay, I'm on board, I accept the framework you're laying down. And I can see people not doing that, or not accepting that everything works just-so inside someone's head, or not being able to keep up with things. But a lot of these reviews seem fairly petty and off-base. Either "I didn't care for it but I'm not sure why, so I'll fabricate some reasons" or "I didn't care for it because almost everyone else did, so I'll fabricate some reasons." It's okay to not care for a film simply because you didn't care for it, and it's okay to just say that without tacking on a bunch of meaningless reasons.

Davie: Just goes to show you have to be pretty goddamn stupid to hate the film.

Phill Cameron: Hah, the Observer guy gets in a pop at Synedoche, New York. If I hadn't seen the film, comparing it to that is enough to make me want to go and see it.

So basically, he hates good films. Great.

Dante: Seriously, is Inception really that hard to understand?If this were a deliberately puzzling movie like Primer I could understand this line of criticism, but honestly, it's not. It creates the illusion of mystery early on, but over the course of the film all questions are clearly answered, and all mysteries explained. It doesn't even require much intelligence to figure out, merely a small amount of patience.

Mike: I could read games journalists flakking film critics all day.

Dante: Of course the last one apparently didn't understand Memento, in which one the main characters patiently explains everything that happened to you in the closing moments.

DiscountNinja: So ... most of their complaints appear to be "it didn't make sense"? Well, it made sense to me (enough so that I reckon I could explain it to them, quite concisely), so they clearly either havn't paid attension or arn't putting thought into it.

Now, forgive me, but arn't critics supposed to enjoy something that requires a little thought?

I suppose, though, it's generally their job to write good reviews for whoever is paying them to.

L33tminion: Eclipse Magazine did review Shutter Island positively, but the Inception reviewer is a different person, so it's not inconsistent for her to mention disliking Shutter Island.

Tom Francis: Yeah, I'm mocking her for suggesting two radically different films are equivalent just because they both contain DiCaprio and things that aren't real. And I'm mocking Eclipse for being so wildly wrong about two different films that even their own reviewers say so.

Jaz: It'd be a bit weird if one of us wrote an opinion column about why a game is total shit if someone else had just given it 90% a few pages back. It's sort of rude.

EGTF: Darn silly film critics. I loved the film, and the only groan the entire cinema audience let out when I saw it was at the blackout ending.

Only one plot element confused me in the end; the getting out of limbo and dying in limbo.

The whole waiting for a train bit, where they lay on the train tracks and die. Is that meant to be them waking up from limbo? If so why weren't they old? How did they get out of limbo? In the second trip to limbo, did Sato shoot both Cobb and himself to wake up from there? Why didn't he do it earlier if it was so easy?

I'm asking all this here as it seems like folk might be able to explain it to me

verendus: I think they weren't old when they had the train run them down because they had realized that they were in a dream, and cannot age. Earlier, they had led the dream become their reality, and they perceived themselves as growing old as they would in reality. Ditto for Saito - he was old because he had failed to realize that he was in a dream until Cobb arrived.
Of course, that's all speculation on my part.

nabeel: Awesome.

Jonn: You forgot to mention how the reviews kept saying how the characters weren't very deep or sympathetic. Heist movies aren't exactly known for character exploration, and we can literally see the emotions of Cobb, the main character, on-screen.

Ronin08: Citizen Kane got a lot worse reviews when it first came out. Only got redeemed over time. (By the French, mind you.)

Dr. Disaster: I think Chris, in the other thread, nailed the one bulletproof gripe with the movie: that snow chase just did not work. Partly, I think it was too standard — ski chases with submachine guns are too tired even for James Bond movies, these days. Partly, I think it was out of order, as up until that point each new layer of the dream had brought an action sequence even more mind-blowing than the last.

But the scene's real Achilles heel was that all the faces were covered up. There's no sense of how the characters feel about what's going on or how they relate to each other. The personalities that anchor you through the rest of the film can't be read through the masks and parkas. Even the aura of menace that surrounds the mooks elsewhere is lost without the impassive glares and eerie hive behavior.

Everything else boils down to "I didn't get it" and "I don't like this kind of movie."

Patricia Pham: Inception was pretentious, pointless, and completely stupid, just like your page.

Dave: I disagree with the critics saying it was a bad movie because it was incomprehensible. It was a unoriginal, boring, redundant, and well...BORING.

Dante: Jesus, if you found Inception boring your life must be a constantly cavalcade of adventure. Tell me, are you riding a shark into the sun as you write this comment?

Inferno: It's hilarious how many reviews there are of people who just either didn't seem to pay any attention to the movie (stating this that happen in the movie completely incorrectly or somehow managing to miss perfectly explained things such as the guards in the snow being the security his trained subconcious creates- not actual people) or are just too stupid to have followed a fairly well explained movie. In both cases: Why are you paid to write reviews of movies?

Te movie was very easy to follow if you paid some damn attention to it. The onyl issues where it working out what was going to happen and understanding wantanabe. I must admit I missed what a lot of his lines said at the start of the movie and had the mexplained later but it didn't have any effect on how understandable and cohesive therest of the film was. I really don't get why regular people seem to be able to do this but paid film critics couldn't.

Patricia sounds a lot like a hurt writer of one of those there reviews :p

Tyrnek: Dave, this is Patricia. Patricia, this is Dave. Now, both of you get back under that bridge.

I thought the movie was really quite brilliant for what it did, and though the ending did cause large amounts of passionate r4ge, it still left you to ponder: did he go back in a dream, or was he dreaming the whole time? (assuming that you're a pessimist like me).

Although these reviews are written by less-than-capable critics, I still wonder: how does the movie industry expect to keep up when one game journalist can rebuke 15 movie critics in less than 3 sentences per review?

sQUEAKYfOAMpEANUT: Half of these reviewers would probably respond to your criticism of their reviews with what would essentially boil down to "LOL I TROLL U".

Ronin08: Tom, have you seen this video yet about the soundtrack?

http://popwatch.ew.c... ...l-foghorn/

I think I realized this during the movie, but realizing it again made my head explode. This movie just keeps getting better and better...

David Homer: This film seems complex and indepth but its all just confusion and misdirection covering a shallow plot of lets sneak into someones dream to change their mind about a business deal. Stupid. Also I get a dream in a dream and that the deeper the dream the slower time runs. So you're telling me the guy who they were duping was actually having 3 dreams all at different speeds at the same time (his sub concisious was actually attacking the guy in the van in the top level dream throughout the film). Stupid.

Dave_C: Hey, David Homer. You are stupid.

Dante: I'm sorry, the film has cleverly mislead us and that makes it stupid?

I think you've made a basic misunderstanding here David, we aren't confused, we are aware that Inception is a classic heist movie with a lot of clever ideas layered on top of it. It reminds us of why such formulae exist, to provide a solid base for a clever spin. We like that.

Blackout62: Remember, these are just the negative bad reviews. There are probably tons of positive bad reviews that fail to explain how the movie is good. A fault I regret making many times. DAMN YOU HIGH SCHOOL JOURNALISM!

Tom Francis: Oh yeah, totally. In fact many of the positive ones are worse. But they're bad in a sort of drawn out and tedious first-year media studies way, which is less entertaining to mock.

Ronin: Yep, I have seen that. Can't wait to see the movie again, I think it'll make even more sense in context, given the time dilation.

Andrea: This is so funny, its like they are saying hey dont like it because the film is smarter than them, so they are trying to come up with things to say about it thats bad, i though reviewers like something to think about. XD
-one reviewer qoutes that it is 'gibberish'
- another said he pays to much attention to detail and major logic holes jump off the screen without 3-D
i thought the film was excellent and even though at times i was confused i knew what was happening after and it was all quite easy to understand, i thought it was clever, and a never before seen type of movie.

Joe: You said: "That isn’t what happens, and it’s explained several times why changing the dream too much is dangerous."

Yes, it was. Several times. Over and over and over and over and over again, like everything else in the movie. Exposition has never been so overused.

The movie was just horrible.

Jason L: You have three too many 'over's there.

However, one thing pointed out in The Editing Room's version http://www.the-editi... ...ption.html will forever cause me nerdpain on rewatchings :( It's an unusual usage, but truly a 'spoiler'.

Anonymous: Oh get a life. Who gives a shit about that dumb movie?

Bret: 0/10. Poor concept, poor execution.

I am sorry to say I have seen better trolling in kindergartens. Please reconsider in the future, or at least put a little effort into the whole procedure.

We all know you can do better.

Sarkany: The idea of kindergartener trolls is both horrifying and adorable.

Bret: Didn't say the trolls were kindergarteners.

Just that they were in a kindergarten.

Man. Some of those teachers...

Leela: This movies falls apart scene after scene. It has very good points, but only in terms of action. The storyline is shallow, and though it is comprehensible, it makes no sense within its own logic. Barely a 5 out of 10 and only because the topic is very interesting and there are not many movies that conceptualize dreams.

Jason L: Ur rong. It deosnt conceptualize dreams, nobody is in they're underwear or taking a math test or looking for a lost object for hours.

Lack 26: Or being chased by Velociraptors.

bERT: (spoiler alert)
So much condescending comments here towards the negative reviews that those comments shoot themselves in the foot. Yes some of the negative reviews may be a consequence of the reviewers not getting the plot or dream layer mechanism or being lazy to get it. I'm belonging to neither of those categories and still think this movie is a heap of trash. Nolan took 10 years to end up with this kazillionth Night M Shyamalan kind of movie, ie a +2 hour movie filled with a 9/10th no story first part with characters without character so you don't give a flip about them just to end with an 'amazing ending that keeps audiences fascinated even long after they left the theatre'. The only thing you have to do to get the ending is to not being lazy. But I can understand some of the negative critics: it takes a lot of patience to make it till the end as you have to waddle through endless pseudo intellectual tripe, endless boring action scenes and 'heavy wise acting' with the only purpose to mislead you into thinking you're watching something sophisticated. In reality Inception is a scam. One can only hope Nolan will not scam the public three times like they did with The matrix

bERT: I forgot to delete the (spoiler alert) as while writing the first comment I decided to leave out the spoiler. Sorry!

Jason L:

I expected a lot of writers who were simply confused, and largely that’s the case, but some of them seem to be trying for some kind of award for clumsy criticism.

Many of them, happily, are just terrible. This isn’t a round up of negative reviews. Some of them, like Salon’s, do a good job of explaining their opinion without whining, lying or embarrassing themselves. This is a round up of the other ones.


'Heavy wise acting' isn't a phrase,

Please don't strawman people.

Jivers: Inception was a mediocre movie. Not awful, but not good either. It certainly was not the masterpiece that some pseudo-intellectual teenage boys claim it is.
The fact that it was confusing doesn't make it a smart movie. It's not a complicated plot at all (nor a "thought provoking" one either, IMO), but Nolan obfuscates it with unnecessary explanations about the mechanics of the dreams.
I thought it was quite unimaginative that the third dream stage was a snow fortress filled with bad guys (like any other shitty action movie).

BWAM BWAM BWAM BWAAAMMMMMM

Rasmus Widengård: So. Finally saw Inception. Quite frankly, I'm disappointed.
As usual Nolan has a firm grip on the visual, but conceptually the whole thing seems oddly stale.
Allow me first to say that I readily accept the internal logic of the film, the means to explore dreamscapes and the like. I understand and abide by these evocations. The problem is, I do not accept the fundamental premise of the film. I do not believe for a second that the imparting of ideas would be that complex a procedure, especially not on a subconscious level. Anyone who's spent more than two hours in the company of another human being knows how suggestible we are to all forms of stimuli, and how effective psychological warfare really is.
Furthermore, I do think that, ironically, Nolan underestimates the impactful nature of dreams, and how its absurdist constructs are part of its lingering influence. In his attempt to produce a tangible and stringent dreamscape, no matter how labyrinthine, he undermines that influence by rendering it something extraordinarily ordinary.

the "unreasonable" critic: Wow. What can I say? People from average to above average intelligence only will think this film is intelligent and complex and deep. Sooo that's about 90% of the population, explaining the 9.2 rating in imdb. What's up with films being intentionally incomprehensible and debatable on all levels including the ending that leaves the general public astounded by it's "cleverness". Just because the film makes you think does not make it smart. Have you considered all the plot holes and illogical action? It seems the dumber movie you make, the more intelligent they think it is. Haha - for a second I considered Nolan has 'incepted' you with the idea that this film is great. Stupid me...

Entropy: Unreasonable is right. Inception is a fun movie. It's great from both an intellectual standpoint and an action standpoint. It had me floored from the start with the incredible CGI, then the breathtaking action scenes. If you're there for a punch-n'-shoot flick, there you are. However, if you're willing to give it some thought, it's also a wonderful flick to think through. My date and I spent most of the night talking about how the dreams worked and the plot of the movie- that never happens. Since you're complaining about the vagueness, I suppose you didn't quite understand the ending. Don't feel bad, not many did, and it took me awhile to puzzle through it myself.

I'd love to see your definition of a "smart" movie. I'd also like to see some of the plot holes- They may well exist, but I was having too much fun watching the movie to notice, and that's the mark of a good movie in my mind.

Tom Francis: Wouldn't that leave only people of below average intelligence thinking it's not clever?

Jason L: No, see, he said he was dumb sarcastically; that means he's preemptively immune to that criticism, even if it's true by his own logic. That's how sarcasm works. What?

A lot of the plot holes are picked apart, unsurprisingly, in the Editing Room parodic review I linked above http://www.the-editi... ...ption.html . One is big enough that it actually does bother me and I don't like spoiling others' fun so here's another that doesn't. Cobb's wanted in the US, but doesn't seem to be on the lam internationally. Is Doing One Last Job for a shadowy power broker really superior to, say, having Arranger Michael Caine move his motherless fatherless kids to England?

the "unreasonable" critic: Hmm, I should phrased my comment a bit differently. It should have been from "average to JUST above average intelligence". Having cleared that up, Entropy I would like to know which theory you used for interpreting the ending as that is only what we get - theories. There are four or so theories to what the ending is. Hell, I'm sure even DiCaprio doesn't what the actual ending is, but that's what the whole film is about. Being able to debate about it hours after the film has ended. Goes back to what I was saying - thinking about it doesn't make the film clever, it makes it ambiguous. I think the link Jason L has provided addresses the plot holes quite definitively and humourously (also having taken Nolan 8 years to write Inception while there are still plot holes is quite extraordinary). I guess anyone having 'too much' fun watching the movie would ignore the plot holes and concentrate on the action which is what ultimately this film is - an action-flick. Perhaps also pseudo-intellectual but that just means it's stupid but trying to be clever. I have found many people use that description... rightly so might I add. Anyway a smart film would be Shutter Island because if you engage and pay attention to detail you can understand and appreciate how good the movie is. Scorsese has outdone himself.

Jaz: Average intelligence is good, by the way. That's a good thing, that you want to have. It's only in RPGs that Average Dexterity really means "CAN'T DODGE FOR SHIT".

the "unreasonable" critic: Average intelligence is only good if you have below average intelligence. And since most people have it it's not good - it's standard. I liked the reference to RPGs. Now can we go back to reviewing the film?

Entropy: Low intelligence is bad in its own right, but high intelligence has a really high chance of coming with some nasty drawbacks- insanity being one of many. Maybe being average-to-just-above-average is normal (so much as that word applies to anything), and therefore the popular opinion is correct? The majority is rarely wrong, after all.

You say the movie is an action flick. If it is, then it did a really, really good job. The zero-gravity fight was incredible, and the last half to last quarter is full of great action and tension. By that metric at least, it's a good movie then, yes?

The way I interpreted the ending was that it didn't matter if the top fell or not. DiCaprio's character was with his children again, and he didn't care if he was in a dream or not. Either way, he was happy. Besides, ambiguity isn't automatically a bad thing. Ambiguity inspires critical thinking and debate. When you leave a movie like, say, Jackass, you're laughing with your friends, yes, but there's not a lot to talk about. Leave Inception (Or possibly Shutter Island- I haven't watched it, but I mean to eventually) and you're talking with your friends about the intricacies of the plot.

Either way, I had fun with it (enough that I'm defending it on the internet) and I'm not a stupid person. Not the brightest bulb in the box either, mind you, but I'm not an idiot, and it's silly to say that only morons like this movie.

Jaz: They have a word for the level of intelligence that most people have. That word is average. I disagree that it's better to be smarter - infact, I'm not really sure I believe that intelligence exists at all. I'd argue that we don't know enough about our own brains and the forces that drive us to excel or to fail, to grasp concepts and invent things, to have a useful opinion on intelligence. Who's to say that dumb kid isn't just dyslexic? Afraid of being singled out for correctness and nerditude? Terrified of academia? Who's to say that the problem isn't a lack of potential knowledge and insight ("Intelligence"), but a culture of anti-knowledge that is perceived by the weak and afraid as a club whose favour is more important than intelligence? Because that's what it looks like to me.

I think Inception was proper bo.

the "unreasonable" critic: Lol @Jaz. Im not even gonna comment on that. @Entropy I never said it wasn't a good movie. I said I disagree it's a smart film and the fact that the majority hail it as a masterpiece. The film is good with what it has to offer - action and great visuals. But then again so does 300 and no one is hailing that a masterpiece. For what it is, inception is a good movie deserving a rating of 7-8. Not the blow out of proportions 9.0 or whatever it's current rating is in imdb which commands a top 8 rank in the top 250 films. I think people bumped up their rating by 1-2 points by also thinking it's an intellectual film. Nolan sure knows how to make a film that sells - we have to watch it twice to fully understand it, and don't say it's easy to understand. It's easy to accept one theory and ignore other possibilities. There is no one definitive answer which is why people loved it - pick a theory that makes most sense to you and you've got a 'very intellectual' film with the luxury of action and visuals 'on the side'. I've almost convinced myself it deserves to be in the top 10...

Jason L: Yeah, blah blah IQ versus functional intelligence. You're missing the point; what's important here is that Unreasonable doesn't just like the film less than us, he's better than us because he holds that opinion. Unlike those of us of mere 'above average intelligence', his genius lets him see through the pseudointellectual facade Nolan's thrown up by demanding the audience think a little about alternate physics and multiple storylines during a whiz-bang adventure flick. Sadly, it's been impossible so far to convince us sheeple to throw off the shackles of really enjoying that rare experience. But he keeps trying, bless his heart.

the "unreasonable" critic: Well... genius is subjective lol. The actual point is that Inception doesn't deserve it's rating. Yeah it's a fun movie which offers a 'groundbreaking' experience but should it actually be in the top 10 and be 'better' than shutter island? I would say shutter island also offers this rare experience with the exception of better directing, greater suspense, a decent script and a sound plot that allows all of these to gel nicely into a quality film.
Forget about inception - it's all about shutter island.
Last comment, peace

Jaz: Quite an accolade. Sounds like I should watch Shutter Island.

Bret: Genius may be subjective, but I find idiocy quite easy to catch.

It comes with the defense "Subjective lol".

The widespread use of "lol" or as I like to think of it to preserve my sanity "Upside-down Geth" would be a bane of internet debate if it was not so useful for isolating bad arguments quickly and efficiently.

Psiloc: Just watched the movie and I didn’t even catch the characters names. Must have been sleeping.

Jason L: Just watched it again on DVD. They don't use masks in the cab. God dammit. It's all falling apart like the projections have noticed me.

(No, I still loved it.)

Nolan: I'm sorry, I apologise for recreating the Matrix.

james: If you want a great, deep, emotional, and well crafted film then watch John Hughes 'The Breakfast Club'. Now there's a real director.

Anonymous: It was just a mish-mash of ideas lifted mostly from Philip K Dick, interspersed with (admittedly impressive) action scenes. The characters were crap. The ending was predictable and lazy, they just copied Total Recall.

steve: Actually the review is very accurate. Your comments on the page are just adolescent angry reaction. There is no contradiction in the review as he is describing it from many angles. He is not saying he didn't like it because it was smarter than him. It TRIES to be smart. The film ends up just a spy heist.. As I watched it I conjured up a better ending to it in my imagination, so . And so the conclusion was a let down. It tries to be clever and doesn't really achieve it. It DOES look like planet Hoth - this part has no integral part within the story and could be left out. The characters are not "human" - there is not appropriate development. And the girl IS woefully miscast. It is a decent film - well the first half of it - but as it gets into it, it does not make sense. E.g. go into target's subconscious which is completely infested by DiCaprio's dream houses. ??? And why dreamers walk slowly everywhere? And he is right, the "bigger gun" thing had to be consistent. It is like someone wrote good part of the film and the rest was pulled out of backside. Don't respond to this post with more reactive bull about how the film "explained this".. no it didn't. (Only thing I disagree with is about Memento - Memento IS an excellent film)

steve: BTW it is not that complex.. If it had the right complexity it would make sense. These ideas are not exclusively Nolan's and he did not create them. Read Carlos Castaneda and you'll realise that Nolan only has a little piece of the pie. This is an introduction to REAL dream techniques. Understand that, and maybe you will piss your pants.

Jason L: What happens if you respond with more reactive bull about how the film didn't sufficiently spoonfeed you? OH SHIT

Tristan: the ending of the movie was very rosebud-esk, here is a joke I saw about inception,
http://ponderingstuf... ...inception/

From Holland said...: I really get irritated when people pretend this is a smart movie,
and then tell you that you probably don't ''get'' the movie because you didn't like it.

Meaning your not smart ore perhaps philosophical enough.

The main flaw of the movie is its framework, for example;

The movie the Matrix has a framework where you can say; okay that makes sense because humans life in a digital prison created by robots. Now you can do all sorts of weird shit in the movie. (only liked the first movie)

But Inception just expects you to accept that you can enter a dream with a ''magical'' suitcase an some wires connected tho a human head. Then they distract you with a lot of visual bullshit and ''rules'' to make it seem complicated. Manipulating you to say the movie is good because you don't want to seem dumb. Kinda like the story of ''The Emperor's New Clothes''

Nolan had a ambition to make a movie about entering dreams. He didn't had any idea how the entering in a dream should work so he just didn't explain it.
Its like putting pink flying elephants in the movie en just say; accept it.

The character are flat boring and two dimensional. The way Ellen Page character was recruited and the training felt very forced and meaningless.
I was really exited to see this movie but it was quite disappointing .

Jason L: I'm sure you do; fortunately that's not what happened here. The only people criticised here have first called the movie dumb and transparent, then said themselves in the same breath that they were confused by it. That's not the action of a fool, but it is the action of a trolling liar.

If you don't like the movie, the most probable cause is that you didn't click with the characters and drama. That's sad, but there's nothing to be done about it. As in any good sci-fi, the rules help but they're not the foundation of the action. Where can I get some trilithium? How does an entire galaxy avoid ever inventing gunpowder? What frequency does the Sonic Screwdriver run on? Bah, all this magical bullshit! BTW, it's sillier than you remember; the suitcase 'an' wires connect 'tho' the users' wrists. You're welcome.

Those of us who like the movie are not distracted by the structure. We are not saying that the Emperor's cloak is beautiful; we are saying 'Woooow, he is ripped'. I was moved by the character interactions. I had great fun in the action sequences. I was utterly terrified of and for Moll. I love this movie, and it has nothing to do with membership in some club. I wish it had clicked with everybody. Please do not call me a liar or a lemming.

From Holland said...: Movie maker don't explain everything in there movies thats true. But if you want to tell you're story a good framework is gold. Take Jurassic park for instance, part one had a 15 to 20 min sequence explaining why there are dinosaurs on the island. Its was a clever mix between fiction and science. This had to be told because its the keystone of the story. The audience is buying in to the explanation and they can sit back for the ride.

The explanation for mutants in X-men, another leap in evolution caused by mutation. Okay you can accept that ore not. If you do you can enjoy the X-men movies.

But its just kinda strange creating an entire movie about entering dreams, and not explaining the mechanism ore perhaps the impact on society. Its the unexplained centerpiece of the movie. literately not one mention is made. And that in a movie that tries to explain the smallest details.

Because the movie is not build on a solid foundation i could not click with the the characters and drama you are right about that.

My purpose fore writing the comment above was not to call people that liked inception lemmings ore lairs and i apologize if it seems that way. If you like the movie and the concepts then thats great and you got what you paid for.

Reading the comments above just gave me the sense that people who don't like the movie a retarded, and so i probably was a bit sharp in my comment.

shakya: Boring movie

muni: The first Matrix is a lot better

Steve: It's pretty rare that comments actually add content to an article that doesn't solicit more content. Kudos for coming up with so many more examples of bad reviews, even if it was by accident.

Sed: "I really get irritated when people pretend this is a smart movie,
and then tell you that you probably don't ''get'' the movie because you didn't like it."

Seriously.. if you liked the movie that's fine with me, just please spare us the excuse that those who don't fall for a movie of gimmicks are of inferior perception. If anything, not being able to see over the barrel-full of contradictions that is Inception is a sign of a logic-driven brain.