Finally caught up with the summer's "must-see" film and it is worth seeing on the wide screen.
"Inception" by Christopher Nolan is relentlessly intense. You must pay attention or you can get lost in the layers of dreams upon dreams in the telling.
The actors are good, special effects are incredible and the story stays with you hours later.
In all these respects, the film is an unqualified success.
Unfortunately, it must do what Hollywood tells it to do: throw in gratuitous violence because it will bring in the video game crowd.
Now, the gunplay and bombplay (it's always interesting to use the word "play" with gun and bombs) is riveting, because the visceral effect demands it.
But, and this is a "but" that afflicts "Avatar" as well, gratuitous mayhem is not that interesting after awhile and it doesn't propel the story forward.
In fact, all the shoot-ups, car crashes and firefights in "Inception" don't add a thing to the story. In fact, it's all noise and thunder, signifying nothing.
The violence in "Inception" is so cartoonish that the "good guys" can get drilled with bullets, but show little effect while they shoot once and slay their aggressors.
Then again, it's all a dream isn't it. Or nightmare.
My nightmares haven't involved assault weapons mainly because I've never used them.
Nolan wrote this story about a decade ago, but felt he couldn't bring it to the screen until he had experience in big-budget, special effects blockbusters.
Well, I think his noble efforts in the "Batman" franchise proved to be a disservice to him on "Inception."
The story is so rich and so compelling that it didn't need such extravagance of special effects with conventional weaponry.
Also, dreams, at least mine, are so bizarre that they gnaw at me for days, sometimes years. "Inception" lacks this bizarre element because it goes for the "chase" over the "intrigue."
It seems that Hollywood has done its homework on what will sell. I'm sure they have the demographics down cold. If you use 400 bullets in a movie, it will do better than if you use 200 or 600, let's say. Or, if 20-30 people get killed in a film, it will sell better than if 5 or 60 people get killed.
If you have 25 explosions, you will make tons of money. But, if you have 50 explosions, you may not.
Afterall, we are in the "video game" era of filmmaking. Story is not enough, the new conventional wisdom says you must have noise, audio or visual, to really make your point.
In the end, though, you're left with more noise than insight. More money than art.