Christopher Nolan’s epic sci-fi action film “Inception” took the world by storm in 2010, garnering well over $800 million in box office revenue, widespread critical acclaim and eight Oscar nominations. These days, it is rare to see a film do extremely well at the box office and receive acclaim from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This begs the question, what makes this a fantastic film?
Like many great movies, many factors made this film successful.
The first reason why this film was successful was its innovative story and plot. There have been movies about dreams or dreamworlds before, but none that are like “Inception.”
It’s difficult to sort this film into a genre. It’s an action film, a science-fiction film, a heist movie, a drama and a thriller all wrapped up in one. That being said, “Inception” is also a very cohesive movie, always knowing its tone and how to execute its scenes.
Plot-wise, the film is complex, but rewarding when understood. It is close to impossible to understand all the fine details of the plot on first viewing, especially with the movie’s fast pace. However, on the second watch, it is more understandable. The use of simultaneous layers of story is a very innovative storytelling technique and ties directly to the plot. With this unique structure and its unique visuals, the film feels like nothing you have ever seen before.
“The use of simultaneous layers of story is a very innovative storytelling technique and ties directly to the plot. With this unique structure and its unique visuals, the film feels like nothing you have ever seen before.”
At its core, though the form and structure seem complex, “Inception” tells a simple story. Centering around Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Dom Cobb, the film is about Cobb’s quest to get back to his family, revealing along the way how and why he wasn’t with them. Nolan’s writing and DiCaprio and Elliot Page’s performances help deliver this emotional thematic storyline effectively, elevating this picture beyond your typical action blockbuster.
The whole cast is really on point in this picture. We already mentioned DiCaprio and Page, but top to bottom everyone is effective and has fantastic chemistry with one another.
What further elevates this picture is its visuals. Nolan loves to create films that are massive in scale, while having moments that are relatively smaller and more emotionally resonant. He exceeds brilliantly in visually evoking that in this film. There are countless sequences in “Inception” that will shock the audience in their execution. Those moments make you want to see this movie on as large a screen as possible. The film is also effective at delivering its smaller-scale moments, using effective imagery to symbolize certain emotional themes.
The film is already at a high level with all the strengths previously discussed, but its biggest hasn’t been mentioned. In some movies, audiences don’t realize or notice the background musical score. In others, they stand out, but don’t particularly enhance the picture beyond providing an interesting tonal musical accompaniment. Hans Zimmer’s score for “Inception” is among the miniscule group of scores that elevate their picture to levels you can only dream of (no pun intended). You can honestly put Zimmer’s score up with Ennio Morricone’s score for “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly” and John Williams’ famous scores for “Star Wars” and “Jaws” as the most legendary scores in history. That’s how good Zimmer’s score is, and it plays a major part in why this film is successful.
My one gripe with the picture would be in its execution of its action. It executes it well with a few incredible sequences. Unfortunately, because of those incredible sequences, a few of the action sequences feel a bit more generic, as they aren’t as unique as the others. That being said, this doesn’t majorly hurt the movie, as its fast pace, unique story and structure keep you very invested and interested.
In conclusion, because of the great writing, cinematography, direction, acting and musical score, “Inception” can most definitely be called a fantastic film.
Where to Find “Inception”: Streaming on Netflix