So I had another crack at Inception, hoping to get more out of it this time. Part of my initial disappointment with this film was that it really should have been a slam-dunk for me, what with it being a high concept affair about dreams within dreams and my general admiration (Memento, Batman Begins) and occasional love (The Prestige) for the films of Christopher Nolan. Even better, it’s a wholly original big budget sci-fi piece not adapted from a novel or a comic or a TV show, and is therefore pretty much unique amongst recent blockbusters.
But I still didn’t like it much. Didn’t hate it, it didn’t offend my sensibilities particularly and I can see that they spent a lot of time and effort thinking through a unusually complicated plot and making sure everything in it was consistent and accessible, but even so…when I watched it in the cinema I was yawning and checking my watch by the time the James Bond style snowy scenario turned up, and it wasn’t any better this time. The problem is certainly not that the film demands an unusual level of attention in order to keep up with the various dream levels that it takes place within and the rules that determine how events in one level affect another – it’s just that the way it’s all presented is not that entertaining. More or less every line of dialogue in this film is there to explain the plot, and none of the characters exhibit anything in the way of personality, with the exception of Tom Hardy’s who does get to crack a few wry jokes. Worse, the dream scenarios presented are uniformly bland (a city street, a snowy mountainside, a hotel lobby would you believe) – they’re like video game levels from a few years ago, before PCs could render curves and textures adequately. The only dream sequence which shows a bit of flair is the one set in Paris, but this is quickly closed down as Leonardo DiCaprio’s character sternly forbids his pupil from making the dream too interesting. Despite all the expensive special effects these could be the most boring, laboured and over-explained dreams ever realised on film. The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus might have been a bit of a dog’s breakfast but it towers over this in terms of showing you alternate realities that fire the imagination.
So my opinion wasn’t changed by the second viewing, and I still felt similar to how I felt after The Matrix: if this was an episode of Red Dwarf it would have got to the point a hell of a lot quicker, been much funnier and only have taken up half an hour of my time.