Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Inception (directed by Christopher Nolan) is a big-budget, science fiction version of Nolan’s earlier film Memento (2000). Memento is grungy film noir where Inception is splashy and effects-filled. Both concern layers of reality: Memento wanders backward through layers of memory; Inception injects the viewer into layers of dream.

Inception offers some good special effects scenes: the curling city, the zero-g fight, and a couple others. These scenes don’t manage to disguise the fact that the story is weak. For better science fiction examinations of the manipulation of dreams, read “He Who Shapes” (1965) by Roger Zelazny (later expanded into the novel The Dream Master) and The Lathe of Heaven (1971) by Ursula K. Le Guin (which has been made into a feature-length television movie twice).

Nolan’s storytelling is much stronger in Memento, which will likely be the preferred movie by those who compare the two films. The acting is superior as well. Guy Pearce does a better job with the lead in Memento than Leonardo DiCaprio does with Inception.

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