Movie Review Essay “Inception” is a 2010 science fiction summer blockbuster filmed in various locations, such as Tokyo, France, Los Angeles, the United Kingdom, and Canada. The box office hit was directed by London-born Christopher Jonathan James Nolan, who is well-known for the cult classic, “Memento”, and his “Dark Knight” films. Along with American cinematographer, Walter “Wally” Pfister, equally well-known in his area of expertise, the motion picture has received critical acclaim. Nolan’s interest in noir and abstract thought is apparent in many of his films, and “Inception” is no exclusion.
As it is a film about dreams and cons, Nolan’s style is incredibly fitting. Pfister, who has worked as the cinematographer for almost all of Nolan’s films, adds to the movie’s high quality with his characteristic use of dark tones and lighting, which only increases the movie’s intrigue. Together, the two powerhouses team up once again to produce an incredible motion picture which has won numerous awards, such as the Academy Award for Best Cinematography. “Inception” is the story of a corporate spy by the name of Dom Cobb (played by Leonardo DiCaprio, who came to fame in the movie, “Titanic”).
However, what is particular about Cobb is that he doesn’t merely enter a company’s building in search of commercial secrets. He actually enters the minds of his targets while they are asleep and extracts the data he wants via conning and deceiving. But now, wanted for murder and unable to see his children due to his circumstances, he is offered the opportunity to regain his old life if he manages to accomplish the impossible: ‘inception’, the planting of an idea into a target’s mind, which then takes roots and grows.
Gathering a group of specialist to assist him, Cobb begins to plan inception into the mind of a wealthy businessman. The camera angles of the movie were rather simple. Most of the shots were so that the character’s face was directed at the viewer while said character talked to another. On a screen, the eyes of the actor would be level with that of the audience. However, there are some scenes that are completely opposite, particularly near the latter half of the movie, where more action tended to be focused upon. Although not as common, but highly interesting, ou’d see aerial shots of the surroundings. It gave a very desolate, mysterious feel to the film, while also informing the viewer about where the characters are. I found that the camera angles were okay, with a few that exceeded my expectations. Continuity was smooth, with talking scenes being fluid and dramatic and action scenes being erratic and ever changing, as how I like my movies to be. It was what you’d expect out of the typical talking and action scenes. The long moments of talking or silence between characters created a sense of depth.
The short moments of running or fighting allowed you to lean forward in anticipation. I felt like the continuity did what it was suppose to do. Although, there were some moments, particularly in the first half, which I felt were rather awkward. The talking scenes in the beginning were rather quick and keep changing from one character to the next, and I was so caught in trying to figure out the plotline, that I didn’t even figure out the main character’s name until the credits. Cutting, I noticed, was very prominent in the latter half of the motion picture.
It made sense, as with the plotline and story the way it is, it definitely made the movie better as the whole. It added to the tension and sense of heart pounding “Oh-my-word-come-on-you-only-have-5-seconds-to-do-that-gah“. Not only is that, but it allowed the viewer to keep up with the characters’ actions, which is very nice if you have a particular character you think is cool. I like Eames, the smart-aleck of the group, so I liked to know what was happening to him and seeing that he wasn’t going to die and all that.
Close-ups were generally seen in talking scenes, allowing the audience to focus on the emotions and reactions of the character. There was rarely a moment where the camera zoomed in on something that wasn’t an organism, something that lived and breathed. In this aspect of the movie, I found it to be either boring or heart-breaking. In my opinion, how good the close-ups were was completely dependent on the actress and actor’s ability to perform. If I became aware that they were trying to look sad, rather than felt that the character was distraught, I felt like the close-up wasn’t a particularly mart move. I noticed that the composition of “Inception” was rather dark. Light was played with and created shadows that revealed parts of the character’s body, while the other was engulfed in darkness. Objects were always placed far away as to create a feeling of isolation, while managing to focus in on the character the camera was directed at. I really, really enjoyed the composition. I believed it worked wonders for the story’s overall feeling. It allowed for dark and desolate tone to be even more pronounced. Inception really loves its slow motion scenes.
However, considering that it can be a rather fast-moving movie, it does have its uses. Although there was one particular scene near the beginning that made me raise an eyebrow, I found that most of them were rather cool-looking. Considering that the characters were essentially stepping into a dream world, where everything is possible, the slow motions displayed all the strange and exciting so your eyes could feast in the wonderfulness of it all. The color scheme tended to lean towards neutral, yet somehow gave off a very sharp feel to it.
There was also a low contrast, although it was most apparent near the end, with a particularly monochromatic feel to it. Textures were interesting to see when things began to lead towards the rising action. As for space, I felt like there was always a foreground and background, but not so much a middle ground. I suppose this was due to the incredible amount of talking. Shape was super incredibly awesome. Then again, it’s a plotline about going into the dream world, so obviously the minds behind the work would take advantage of the ability to play around with the world they created.
Either way, your mouth would drop at some of the things they twisted, the architecture in particular. In fact, the architecture is one of the most interesting things in the whole movie. As stated before, the movie played around with shadows a lot. There were a lot of highlights in “Inception”, particularly on the face. The characters are always slightly off center on the screen and there are generally only one or two characters in a single shot. I like to think it just furthers the idea of the isolated feel to the movie. Buildings are towering and rather rectangle in shape, giving off a feel of aloofness.
The special effects are in high gear when the characters enter the mind of the wealthy businessman. Things explode, crumble apart, and all that jazz: The essentials for any type of action movie. It’s fantastic. My particular favorite is when they do these anti-gravity shots and you see the characters walking upside down and floating in mid-air. Although I found some aspects of the cinematography to be average or lacking, it fully makes up in other ways. The composition and special effects are wicked awesome and I could see why the film won an Academy Award in Cinematography.
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