Before we get started let’s take a quick look at The Numbers: Christopher Nolan’s ‘Inception’ has brought in more money domestically in 10 days ($143M) than Scorsese’s Shutter Island has in 16 weeks ($128M). For you filmies out there, of course we know that money isn’t what really matters to the audience, but this fact is still relevant because it speaks volumes to the ability of an intriguing film to unleash it’s own word-of-mouth campaign. We’re not talking sleeper hits or Indie Diamonds here and we’re definitely not talking about staged word of mouth (Read: Paranormal Activity). What we’re talking about is that nagging feeling someone gets when they see a great film and just have to tell someone about it. That’s what movie blogs are all about right? With ‘Inception’ people just can’t stop talking about it. It’s just that pesky ending.
Taking into consideration The Groundwork of both of these films they could have met with equal success. Both films were directed by extremely talented, visionary directors. Both films had immense budgets, top notch Cast, FX, Production, and Post-Production Teams, and both films even had Leo to carry them.
At this point you may be irked and still wondering why I’m comparing the two films. I can tell you that they are both Psychological Thrillers and that alone should be sufficient but the truth is I am just a fan of both directors and I was eagerly anticipating the release of both movies.
Honestly though The Similarities between the films can’t be ignored. Both films deal with the ideas of alternate realities. Shutter Island’s take is purely based on the mental state of Dicaprio’s character while Inception deals with the mental state of Dicaprios’ character within the context of his ability to invade and interact with the dreamworld. In both films we also find that Dicaprio is dealing with the tragic loss of a dead wife that haunts him. In Shutter Island she is a ghost or a figment of his imagination but in Inception she lives purely within his subconscious. Depending on your take on things this last one’s a stretch but I’ll stand behind it and say that in both films he killed his wife.
Now for me, and I’ll assume for most people, the moment of truth comes with The Endings. I might have to look over my shoulder for the next week and watch out for Film Buffs for saying this but I hated the ending of Shutter Island. I know it was based off of a book but with all the money they put into the film they could have made a few simple changes and crafted a better ending. But instead they took the easy way out. In a failed attempt to add another layer to the film they revealed that Dicaprio was just schizophrenic and had created an alternate reality. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? I was tempted to convince myself that I misunderstood the ending and that he wasn’t really sick but was only convinced that he was. But we know that wasn’t the case.
With Inception, if you haven’t heard already, the ending leaves you with that same feeling of ambiguity we all had when the screen cut to black for the finale of The Sopranos. The movie has also had the exact same effect in that everyone is discussing whether or not the totum kept spinning. This would signify whether or not Dicaprio was in the real world or dreaming. I have to admit I was a little perturbed at the notion that Nolan would tie up the film with a clean Hollywood ending with everything working out within the last few minutes of the film. Having the camera focus on the spinning totum that wobbled just a bit was enough to satisfy the cynic in me and spark worldwide, online debate.
Inception had it all. I hate to sound like I’m spewing out blurbs but the movie takes you on an emotional train ride and pulls you completely in. And when it’s finally time to get off it reminds you one last time that this film has it all figured out and won’t let you down. Unfortunately Shutter Island was taking me on a ride and left me feeling like I was taken for a ride. (Sorry Marty but I’ll still line up for your next film)
If you haven’t made it out to the theater to see Inception you need to and you won’t regret it. And for you cheapskates out there don’t ruin the experience by getting a bootleg copy from that guy on the corner. Just pay the $10 to watch the movie Christopher Nolan’s been planning for 10 years.