Friday, July 16, 2010

The Savior has arrived

I can't remember a recent movie that's been quite as anticipated as Inception.

Oh, there are movies people get excited about -- your Iron Man 2s, your next Harry Potter movies. But they don't use the kind of language of reverence that's been reserved for Christopher Nolan's latest movie.

Today, we'll all finally get to find out if Inception lives up to our expectations -- even though it doesn't seem like there's any way it possibly could.

We're dealing with a fairly small sample size here, but The Dark Knight seems to have turned its director into commonly being described as a "visionary." I've been on board with seeing Nolan through that lens long before then -- Memento was my second-favorite movie of 2001 at the time (since surpassed by several films I didn't see until later), and I also had above-average affection for The Prestige, ranking that midway through my top ten of 2006. And people sometimes tend to forget there was even a movie called Batman Begins, which laid the groundwork for the worldwide phenomenon that was The Dark Knight (and which I argue was actually a better film, but let's not get into that right now). Just to round out his CV, Following and Insomnia are both interesting movies that don't require special mention here.

Now, with Inception, we're expecting The Matrix meets Dark City meets the best ten other movies you can think of that might have the capacity to blow your mind in a commonly accessible way. And not only are there the expectations we would ordinarily have for the movie, but given the way this summer has unfolded (with a few exceptions, like Toy Story 3), we're also expecting Inception to save the summer of 2010 -- to give us something, at long last, to sink our teeth into.

Because in this small sample size, that seems to be the genius of Christopher Nolan -- he gives us films that exist simultaneously as heavy, thought-provoking art, and popcorn movies that speak to a wide range of people. His Batman movies were superhero movies we didn't need to categorize as guilty pleasures. They didn't need to wink at us and be filled with wisecracks in order to rake in tons of dough. They created a new superhero template that has yet to be repeated successfully, though I argue that Watchmen, a personal favorite, was a pretty damn good attempt.

So now there's Inception. It seems to again be the thinking person's action movie -- incredibly high concept, demanding of some kind of intellectual commitment on the viewer's part, yet not the slightest bit alienating to even the least mentally astute viewer. We'll see if the box office numbers back it up, but it seems to represent proof that all audiences want to have a movie credit them with a certain intelligence level. Even if they would never consciously list that as a factor in why they go to the movies, the excitement for Inception seems to provide ample evidence of it.

Inception is almost certainly among the most blogged about movies of 2010, so I don't need to contribute any more to that phenomenon than I already have. But I'll finish by saying this: As excited as I have been for July 16th to arrive -- downright impatient at times -- there's also that small part of me that's been worried about the coming of Inception. Because what if it isn't as good as we're all expecting? What then?

Well, then there's always Untitled Batman Project, a.k.a. Batman 3, scheduled to be the savior of a disappointing summer on July 20, 2012.


Simon said...

Don't worry, it is. A few flaws here and there, but mostly, it lives up to the hype.

Vancetastic said...

Great Simon, glad to hear it. I've got a wife who is very pregnant as well as very busy, but also demands that we see it together. So it could be another week at least before I get to see it. In the meantime I will do my best to fend off the spoilers ...