It happened last winter with “Avatar” and it’s happening again with “Inception”: a hugely hyped, big-budget thrill-ride hits theaters, pretty much everyone loves it, yet there remain a few critics on the sideline defiantly shouting, “But it’s really not that good, people!”
To those “Inception” haters, we might ask: Um, what exactly do you expect from a summer blockbuster? Because “Inception” is about as perfect as a summer blockbuster can be. Which is not to say it’s a perfect movie. No doubt, Christopher Nolan’s cinematic dreamscape has its fair share of flaws. But if you expect a ripping story line, whiz-bang special effects and the sense of being transported to another world, you will not be disappointed. In fact, you will be elated.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, the brains behind a crew of thieves — including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page and Tom Hardy — with a peculiar specialty: They possess a machine that allows them to enter another person’s dreams and steal a secret. Their quest in “Inception” is to implant a memory, which requires them to create dreams worlds within dream worlds — and not get lost forever on the bewildering shores of their own subconscious.
Will you be a fanatic or hater of “Inception”? There’s only one way to find out: Get thyself to the multiplex. And before you do, check out what the critics have to say.
“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.’ In both cases Mr. Nolan’s virtuosity as a conjurer of brilliant scenes and stunning set pieces, along with his ability to invest grandeur and novelty into conventional themes, have fostered the illusion that he is some kind of visionary.” — A.O. Scott, The New York Times
“If you approach ‘Inception’ with lowered expectations it’s a pretty good time … For all the complexity, craftsmanship and color of ‘Inception,’ it’s yet another of [Nolan's] ultra-serious schematic constructions with no soul, no sex and almost no joy, all about some tormented dude struggling with his ill-managed Freudian demons. That same guy sitting next to me cracked that Nolan needs to stop seeing a therapist; there’s not nearly enough sublimation in his movies.” — Andrew O’Hehir, Salon.com
“Nolan, who also wrote the screenplay, lays out the rules of his world deftly. A ton of exposition is needed, yet it never feels like exposition. Things are explained plausibly, and in just enough detail for us to get it — the last thing Nolan wants to do is over-explain himself. The information is parceled out carefully, not all at once, but not in a way that’s maddening or cryptic, either. Again, I marvel at how many films with concepts far simpler than this one never make sense at all, or else only make sense because they repeat themselves clumsily.” — Eric Snider, Cinematical.com
” ‘Inception’ benefits immensely from a series of low-key and thoroughly credible performances. DiCaprio, in a kind of riff on his ‘Shutter Island’ performance, embodies both the steel and the putty of Cobb, a man who can do remarkable things and is at the same time deeply vulnerable. Gordon-Levitt, stylish and lean as a dagger, makes a fine and steady cohort, Page is utterly at home in the intellectual depths of her character, and Hardy has a seedy nobility that suggests a John le Carré antihero. In [Cillian] Murphy we have a man who isn’t a villain but a decent fellow with reasonable defensiveness, and in [Marion] Cotillard, as you might expect, we have a woman worth losing one’s mind for — literally, as it happens.” — Shawn Levy, The Oregonian
“Nolan exemplifies the best kind of filmmaking, unchained from the laws of time, space and even gravity, but never from the most basic rules of narrative. Even at its most tangled and paradoxical, ‘Inception’ keeps circling back to the motivation that has driven films from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ to ‘E.T.’: Cobb, finally, just wants to go home.” — Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post
“Many of the movie’s effects and digital manipulations are spectacularly imaginative, especially a sequence of weightless action in a rotating hotel corridor, the unexpected arrival of a huge train in a scene without tracks, and the startling sight of a long boulevard peeling up off the ground and rising to double over on itself.” — Kurt Loder, MTV News
The Final Word
“When was the last time you had your mind blown by a movie? Because when ‘Inception’ ends and the lights come up, you’ll be sitting in your seat, staring at the screen, wondering what the hell just happened. Of course, it won’t be the first time director Christopher Nolan has shaken us out of the apathy that modern moviegoing induces. ‘Inception’ blends the blockbuster enormity of his ‘Dark Knight’ with the indie insights of ‘Memento’ to create an all-encompassing experience that makes most other summer films seem mediocre.” — Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News
Check out everything we’ve got on “Inception.”
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