Movie Review of Inception (2010)

by JoHarrington

What if people could enter your mind through your dreams and steal your secrets? What if they could plant an idea there too?

There are very few movies where I meet the closing credits with a heart-felt 'WOW!' There are even fewer films where I instantly rewind to the beginning and start watching it all over again.

Inception caught my imagination. In truth, it blew my mind. I half wish that I had never seen it, so I could experience that for the first time yet again.

It won four Oscars. I can most certainly see why.

Buy Inception on DVD


Inception is Heavily Recommended

Let me join the legion of people stating that this is a great movie.

One by one, as family and friends saw Inception, they each told me that I'd love it.  I filed the information away thinking, 'Yeah, some day I'll check that out.' 

Let's be honest about this.  I watched it today because I found it in a supermarket bargain basket, and my internet connection was down.  I watched it the second time, because my mind was still in awe at what I'd seen during the first viewing.

The plot is intricate. You have to pay attention.  Layers of meaning are attached to each scene. I think that it's going to shape up to be one of those films, like Donnie Darko, which can be watched over and over again.  New things will become apparent with each viewing, as you now have the prior knowledge.

What can I say?  The people around me know me well.  I loved it.

Inception Trailer

I've just watched this trailer and it doesn't do the film justice in my opinion. It makes it look too much like a boy's adventure action movie. It's much more than that!

What is Inception All About?

'Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream?'

Lucid dreaming is one thing, but what if you could share it and direct it; and what if the dream wasn't even your own?

Professor Stephen Miles found a way to do that and Dom Cobb was his brightest student (until Ariadne came along).

Dom and his friend Arthur take corporate money to force their way into other people's dreams, then steal secrets from the subconscious mind.

However, even in reality things aren't all as they seem. When they are paid to do their work on Japanese businessman Mr Saito, everything spirals out of control. The pair are soon drawn into a deal to go further than they have ever gone before.

The job is so dangerous and so complex that they have to assemble experts in their field from all over the world.  The usual escape routes are not there; and the alternatives involve utterly losing their grip on reality.

Worst of all, there are factors which could not have been predicted nor guarded against. Never a straight-forward task, they will soon be fighting for their sanity and their lives.

Hans Zimmer's Soundtrack

There are many aspects of the film to be recommended, but high up there is the score.

It was in safe hands anyway, as Hans Zimmer is the genius behind soundtracks ranging from The Lion King through to Hannibal. A versatile German composer, he always adds value to movies.

Hans was nominated for an Oscar, BAFTA and many other accolades besides.  He unfortunately missed out on the biggies, due to The King's Speech winning everything in the world that year.

He really pulled out all of the stops for Inception. I've just been on-line and bought the soundtrack too. I'm listening to it as I write.

The title track is also available as a Junkie XL Remix.

Hans Zimmer's 'Time' from the Inception Soundtrack

I feel breathless listening to this, because I've just watched the scene (over and over again) in which it features. I'm still in shock.

Oscar Winning Visual Effects and Cinematography

Cities curling upon themselves; trains rushing down a main road; and the sheer ordinariness of the bizarre.

Two aspects which didn't miss out on Oscars were the visual effects and cinematography.  They accounted for 50% of the Academy Awards amassed by the movie.

There were very striking special effects.  I really do wish that I'd seen this film at the cinema to have witnessed them in their full glory.  In fact, I'm half tempted to give in and buy Blu-Ray, just to see this play out in high definition.

To my mind, there was a touch of The Matrix in some of the visual wonders.  As 90% of the film takes place in various dreamscapes, then the laws of Physics need not apply.  That makes for some stunning twists of imagination.

However, the team did not go overboard.  If I'd been allowed to design a dream, there would have been all kinds of weird and wonderful things going on.  The team behind Inception managed to strike the right balance between dream and reality.

The whole point of this plot is that you're never quite sure which state you are in.  The characters have to carry totems to check whether they are in the real world or fast asleep.  Too many strange touches would destroy the illusion of reality, which would seriously thwart Dom, Arthur et al. at their work.

Nevertheless, when the dream state would allow for awesome effects, the production team went for it.  I, for one, was left with a dropped jaw at the result.

An Ensemble Cast Who All Shine

Leonardo DiCaprio is generally good in whatever role he performs, which is why he's paid so much. He is believable as the anti-hero Dom Cobb.  No complaints there.

However, his supporting cast absolutely steal the show. 

I tend to trust any movie with Cillian Murphy and/or Pete Postlethwaite in it. They are both in Inception and they did nothing to dent my trust in them as actors.

Tom Hardy has a new fan.  I vaguely remembered him from Flood, but he didn't stand out there. He did in Inception. I found my attention drawn to him in every scene that he was in.

Michael Caine played Michael Caine, as he always does; while everyone else made me care about what happened to them.

If there was a failing in plot and narrative, it was that Inception failed the Bechdel Test hands down.

This examines the role of women in movies with a very straight forward criteria:

It has to have at least two [named] women in it...

Yes, Ariadne and Mal are both female and both named. They have very prominent roles within the plot. Arguably, they have the two most vital, polar opposite roles of all in the movie.  So far so good.

... Who talk to each other...

Yes, they do.  In two separate scenes, they have a conversation. 

... About something besides a man.

No! Every bit of dialogue they have together revolves around Dom Cobb!  This was disappointing, though understandable within the storyline.

Three questions are asked of each movie. They are so simple that it would be harder to fail than pass. They examine the role of females in that film. Nearly half fail.

Inception is a Movie Which Raises Questions

I keep pausing in writing this review to read forums and watch YouTube videos, in order to confirm or expand my own theories.

The thing that I really loved about Inception is the questions that it raised.  There are so many of them! 

I saw one movie, then watched it again and saw another.  The layers of reality mean that not only the characters, but the audience too has to keep checking what could still be a dream.

I'm loving it.  I'm reading people's theories and accepting or rejecting them.  I'm checking scenes to see if what commentators have observed really did happen.  I'm playing with my own perceptions as much as I'm discovering those of others.

This, I think, is the true genius of Inception - it causes you to think and go on thinking, long after the credits have rolled for the umpteenth time. I'm seriously impressed.

As for my contribution to the debate, I really think that a close reading of Edgar Allan Poe's 'Dream Within a Dream' can produce an insight.  I also don't think that is coincidental. But I can't go any further here without spoilers.

O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

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Updated: 10/06/2012, JoHarrington
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


JoHarrington on 07/29/2012

You've sold me on the idea. That sounds really good. :)

Ember on 07/28/2012

I've been meaning to tell you and keep forgetting, so while I remember, I decided to leave a comment. Anyone who enjoyed Inception should watch Memento. I LOVE that movie. It is also the same director as Inception. The only way I can think to explain Memento, is that is a lot like Inception, there is a lot going on, and more than one way to interpret characters, and you don't always know who or what to believe. It is about a man who suffered a traumatic head injury and totally lacks the ability to form new memories. His attention span is, give or take, five minutes, and after that he forgets where he is and what he is doing. In order to remember, he leaves himself mementos, for the most part in the form of pictures. Added to all of this, his wife was murdered and he wants revenge; it is the last thing he can actually remember. Half the movie you watch backwards, in five minute intervals, and the other half you watch in a forward progression, in few minute intervals, (the two alternate each other) until both halves meet up near the end, with an ending that will leave you wondering like Inception did. It takes paying attention to, but the pieces fit together well so you don't feel lost, or super confused. It is well done. And, so! If you haven't seen Memento, you really should check it out! :D

JoHarrington on 07/25/2012

It's definitely a movie you can watch over and over again, isn't it?

dustytoes on 07/24/2012

This is quite an amazing movie. And as you've said the cast is outstanding. I will be keeping my eyes peeled for it so I can watch it again.

JoHarrington on 07/22/2012

That's one of the things which makes this movie so intriguing. What if it could happen? :o

Let us know what you thought of it, when you've seen it. :D

BrendaReeves on 07/22/2012

Okay, I've got to watch this on Amazon today. When you look at the advances in technology today, like being able to move an artificial limb with your mind, I say anything is possible. If our government can figure out a way to get into our minds, they'll do it.

JoHarrington on 06/24/2012

AgingandDisability - You're welcome and I'm in total agreement there.

Jerrico - My gosh! I hadn't even considered that take on the story! I'm going to have to watch it yet again. :D That's what I really love about Inception though. There are so many stories to watch, because so much of what you're seeing is based on perception.

Everyone I've spoken with, who has already seen it, has watched it multiple times.

Jerrico_Usher on 06/24/2012

Although it's literally impossible to enter someones dream (and know what your seeing if anything) because our dreams are based on concepts that only individuals themselves can define, the concept of "planting a seed" in the deep subconscious mind is VERY REAL. This happens daily actually and for the most part subconsciously. This movie "moved" me too for many psychology reasons which would take a book to explain, but in a nutshell the movie was an eye opener to those who realize it's true message. It's 5 layers deep and you can't possibly see all 5 in one shot- that's the hallmark of an amazing movie (like the matrix which had over 300 layers).... I made entire meditation CD formats based on the matrix's layers...

I think what makes inception so powerful beyond the obvious matrix like psychology layers is that most people realize that every day we're planted by seeds. The seeds being so subtle that most people without a psychology degree wouldn't catch them in their unghostly appearance (concisely) but yet we realize the message. It takes several goes on the movie to realize it completely.

The cinematography is brilliant, nothing this cool has come out since the matrix actually (without trying to copy them). I was glued to the set on this one, we watched it 10 times over 2 weeks time because simply, it's fascinating.

Now swing over to the movie about time being currency- I think it's called out of time...

AgingandDisability on 06/23/2012

Special effects were amazing in this. Thanks for review.

JoHarrington on 06/19/2012

Thank you very much.

So many people, whom I've since spoken with, have said that they got to the end, then immediately watched it again. We seem to be in the majority here. I've also spoken with people who are on their fifth or sixth viewing and keep seeing different films each time.

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