Inception is one of the most interesting films of the decade, but you won’t find any spoilery talk here! Instead, here’s a look at the financial equation, the overall Nolan ranking, and other assorted questions that present themselves when discussing the juggernaut that is Inception.
1) Is this Christopher Nolan’s Best Film?
Starting me off with a toughie! How can it be better than The Dark Knight? The Dark Knight was so good!
But, I’ve mulled this for a few days, pondered, ruminated, and marinated, and here’s what I’ve come up with: It IS the best film Nolan’s made, because the scope is just so massive. I took eight pages of notes! It’s a film about love, loss, faith, perception — all against the backdrop of a massive drama / action / sci-fi film. That’s a lot to take in, and the sheer ambition of the project leaves me comfortable calling it the best he’s done. My personal list would go:
2. The Dark Knight
4. Batman Begins
5. The Prestige
2) Could there be a sequel?
Thematically, yes, without a doubt they could pick up the story from where the film finishes … although that would also crib some of the tension the final act of the film contains.
Financially, erm, the story is much more complicated. See question #4 for further insights there.
3) Is the plot internally logical? Does everything make sense?
Kind of? There are definitely a few points that seem purposefully misleading. And you’ve got to buy into the idea that people can invade your dreams to find any semblance of clarity here. But I think about 90 percent of it makes perfect sense once you’ve seen it a few times. It might not all add up at first, though. Give it time. Call a pal. Read some reviews.
4) How much will it need to make to make Warner Bros. happy?
Things look bleak on that front. The film cost a rumored $200 million to produce and they’ve put on a full-court marketing press which only adds to the overall budget. This was Warner Bros. “We owed you one” to Christopher Nolan for the mega-hit that was The Dark Knight. But unless this somehow clears something like $550m in worldwide box office they won’t owe him anymore.
5) What’s up with the New York City critics?
As of this writing there are 19 negative reviews on RottenTomatoes (out of 121) for Inception. Of those, five prominent New York City critics are leading the charge. The New York Times gave it a rotten, as did the The New York Press, New York Magazine, The New York Observer and The Village Voice.
What gives, Big Apple? Did they forget to sing “New York, New York” before the screening, or was it *gasp* the Liza Manelli version? Alternate theory: The film takes place in Paris, Tokyo, and within the skyscrapers of the mind. NYC-ers didn’t like being left out of that equation.
Alternate alternate theory: it’s an anomaly, it means nothing, it only indicates New York City contains a plethora of critical voices. Yeah, okay, it’s probably that last one.
6) Is Inception an “effects” movie?
No, and that’s where the comparisons to The Matrix fall flat. Oh, it has mind-boggling effects, but they only go down once every ten minutes or so. They are in service of the story, and they aren’t used so much for a “wow” as they are to push the story forward. No doubt about it, this is a “think piece” and not a Jurassic Park. The giant effects aren’t Nolan trying to blow your mind, because the narrative is already doing that for him.
7) Is Inception going to get a Best Picture Nomination?
Yes. The magic 8-ball is certain. With ten slots up for grabs you can Sharpie Marker this one in.
8) Are any other nominations possible?
You betcha. All of the technical awards are there for the taking, and Christopher Nolan is going to get some serious Dark Knight snub make-up love. Clear off your mantle Chris! As far as the individual actors go, probably not, because the weight is distributed pretty evenly on the entire cast without a real standout performance. I could see a Golden Globe ensemble cast win though.
9) How about that Hans Zimmer score?
Oh, it’s delightful. It brings it hard and fast when it needs to … but whispers when that’s more appropriate. I liked it. I may go listen to it right now.
10) Should I make this my date night?
Only if your dates are really intense! It’s not a film you can really escape in; it’s more a film you have to actively consider throughout. I took a date, and she really liked it, but we weren’t looking for lighthearted Friday night fare. Buyer beware, this one takes some emotional and intellectual investment. But wow, is it ever worth it.
Laremy is the lead critic and senior producer for a website named Film.com. He’s also available on Twitter.