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.
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.
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.
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.”
Who are you even quoting there?
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?