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'Inception' wins informal poll as most overrated movie of 2010 (Part 2)

December 30, 2010 |  7:00 am


Last week we asked readers to weigh in on the most overrated movies of 2010. In messages, comments and tweets, the feedback has come, and the consensus choice is..."Inception."

Christopher Nolan's action-puzzle had its defenders, to be sure. But the plurality of moviegoers who responded said that it, among all 2010 films, didn't live up to the praise it was getting. ("The Town" and "The Social Network" finished in essentially a tie for second.)

Much of the feedback on "Inception" came with some pithy comments . Among them:

"Big set pieces are the wizard's curtain."

"Inception, hands down. And it will be like a taco inside taco within a Taco Bell that's inside a KFC that's within a mall that's inside your dream!' Seriously. Inception."

"'Inception' is 'Ocean's 11' minus the hot dudes & charisma."

Of course the choice may have something to do with the fact that "Inception" received so much praise in the first place, and was also one of the biggest hits of the year. (But then, we suppose that's what overrated means.)

The movie still has a shot at winning the Oscar for best picture. Which would only make the supporters and the skeptics scream louder.  Which in turns means that the film may also deserve another title: the most polarizing movie of 2010.

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: 'Inception.' Credit: Warner Bros.


What's the most overrated movie of 2010? (Part 1)


Comments () | Archives (27)

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Inception? Are you kidding me? It was easy to understand for me, maybe not at first but after a second viewing it all connected. I hate it when people give up on a movie just after seeing it once. It was in no way overrated, and this is coming from a guy who missed the movie in theaters and had to watch it on dvd. What's wrong with a movie being complex?

I find it funny that LA Times runs this article both praising and criticizing films that obviously struck a nerve with the populace. What can be said is each of these films struck a nerve. Each had it's strengths and weaknesses. We all have our own opinions of what speaks to us as audience members and/or filmmakers.

The more interesting question to be asked is: "Why these films?". Studio marketing departments can pat themselves on the back and say "Well Done " but, in the end, the zeitgeist is an unpredictable element that still amazes me to this day.

I totally do not agree that Inception is the most overrated film of 2010. Come on! Every film has it flaws and considering that modern day studios always churn out pictures that are so blocked with cliched moments and are completely void of character or even a story let's say Inception is an amazing film! I'm hearing a lot of comments about people not understanding one single ounch of the film's exposition and its concepts but I'm sorry to say if you can't understand this film and criticises those who like it, you are definitely stupid and shouldn't even watch these films! Just stick your head in something like Twilight or Transformers and bog off!

Really? Of all the HORRIBLE movies this year? Inception and Toy Story 3 were probably the only really good movies of the year with the exception of the Golden Globe launch movies out right now. If anything was overrated I'd say, Social Network (its a movie about facebook, not entirely genius), Shrek 4 (God Awful but picked up great numbers in the box office), or Twilight (Bad films with a huuge cult following). Inception was one of the most intelligent thrillers I've seen to date and the fact that so many people say they can't understand it shows how stupid Americans are becoming when they're spoon-fed 1 dimensional action flicks. Inception is a very straight forward movie and Chris Nolan did a great job of guiding the audience along at a good pace. The ending is open ended and I guess people can't handle not being given a clear conclusion. You'll understand it if you pay attention to the movie, enjoy it, and don't text your other stupid friends while it's playing. My favorite movie of 2010 because its finally something different from Hollywood. Sorry that you think it's overrated when a director tries to revive this dying movie industry.

Haha, "Informal Poll"? You mean 41 comments from a previous article chastising those who vocally supported the critical and commercial success of Inception? Oh, ok. Yeah, real definitive data there, Steve. I love how you say "Christopher Nolan's action-puzzle has it's defenders," like a cute little wink at the group of 25 people who appreciate the movie. Pretty sure it made almost $1 billion worldwide, had 87% on RT and will potentially get the most Oscar nominations overall. How does any of that=overrated?

I hate it when people say "Inception was easy to understand (on a second viewing) - people are stupid for saying it doesn't make sense"

...Because actually, I 'understood' ALL of it on my FIRST viewing (by the time the movie finished, that is) and immediately concluded that it DOESN'T make sense! The stupid people are the ones who claim they are "smart enough" to make sense of it; they are actually just not smart enough to see the gaping plot holes!

Why does gravity affect 1 layer down in the dream, but not 2?
Why did the dreamer's "defence system" start out creative with a train driving down the road, then end up as useless anonymous guys with guns for the rest of the film?
Someone's brain may be able to function faster within a dream, sure ... but how can it function THOUSANDS OF TIMES faster when you go down "multiple layers" of dreams?!
Why is the method for waking up such complicated nonsense?! If the person in the "top layer" wakes up, the EVERYONE must wake up, right??!!
If the original dreamer wakes up whilst someone is "lower down" in the dream, so they get trapped in limbo, then whose dream are they actually in?
...I could go on for a long time...

Totally found this article pointless. Sorry. The choices in my opinion were all good movies (The Town to a lesser extent). "Overrated" is a very relative term. Polarizing would be more like it. Every time a movie is highly praised, there will always be people who will start calling it overrated. Not me though coz even if I didn't like the movie, I know opposing opinions can coexist.

First of all, the train wasn't the guy's defense system. It was Cobb bringing his subconscious into the dream. The train killed him and Mal in limbo.
And WHEN did the top layer guy wake up? NEVER.
Limbo space is NO ONE'S dream. It's shared dream space. Every one brings part of their own subconscious inside the dream.
And when the car started falling, the hotel had no gravity. Because of that sudden shift, there was an avalanche, but the effect was lessened by the time it was the third layer because the dreamer was simply floating. Its like sleep on a conveyor belt of sorts. Nothing happens if it starts movie, right?

Dear Tom, contrary to what you believe, you did not "understand ALL of it on your FIRST viewing". As an example, the train that suddenly shows up on the road wasn't the defense system being creative, it came from DiCaprio's character. The brain wasn't functioning 1000s of times faster when you go down multiple layers of dreams, it was merely that time felt longer the deeper you went. And on, and on, and on.

Stop being such a nerd and just enjoy the movie for what it is.

Really? I mean, I know that it was highly praised and everything, but for me, it lived up to and even exceeded my expectations. I thought it was an incredible movie. One of the best I've ever seen. The complexity was what kept me drawn in. It was amazing.


Inception was a masterpiece, and one of the most innovative movies of 2010. How can you say that is an overblown oceans 11? How many movies can truly say that they are as complex and fresh as Inception.

Overrated? Please, what about Clash of the Titans or Avatar the Last Airbender, those are overrated films that aren't good in the least. But don't talk dirty about inception just because some can't understand the plot

"Overrated" doesn't mean bad. "Overrated" means we're sick of the Nolan fanboys screaming "OMG Masterpiece!" and implying that anyone who disagrees was just too stupid to follow the plot.

Inception was a very smart and original movie. It only took me once to get it, and it only required a little bit of thought. Movies nowadays tend to insult the audience's intelligence by making a storyline simple. Inception was very good and I think it's reviews are biased; it is definitely not overrated.

You want to minimise the chances of Inception winning Best Picture but you failed because no one actually gives a f*** about you!!!

'"Overrated" doesn't mean bad. "Overrated" means we're sick of the Nolan fanboys screaming "OMG Masterpiece!" and implying that anyone who disagrees was just too stupid to follow the plot.'

This. ^

My opinion: I love Christopher Nolan's movies, with the exception of Batman Begins, Insomnia and Inception, which I only think are of "okay" status. Regarding Inception, I've tried to make theories I've read about fit, to reveal what other people are seeing in it, mostly because I want to love it as much as they profess to. Alas, I come up short each time, leaving the film feeling like I've seen something ambitious, but not something great, merely good, or in a year with better competition, something kind of forgettable.

Because I'm hesitant to box people into stereotypes, I try to reason through it. Here are my thoughts as to why I reacted the way I did, and why others had a more positive spin:

1) Unlike a movie like The Prestige, I didn't feel like Inception was worth puzzling over, because in the end, there was no "one" answer, and to me, that's the fun of a "puzzle" movie. For example, if Cobb was dreaming the whole time or was the one experiencing the inception, what difference does it make? Does it tell us more about the characters? Their world? About ourselves? Or does it just give apologists room to excuse the lack of character development or the plot's (for me) boring and convoluted exposition?

2) On the other hand, if the movie was as straight forward as it seemed to me (as in, Cobb gets team together, multiple dream levels are traversed, team successfully pulls of Inception on target, movie over, etc.) and that's what people enjoyed so much, then I have to wonder if my watching the trailer (which ruined, I believe, every would-be breathtaking moment in Inception for me) or my simply having seen The Matrix and other dreamish, "box within a box/dream within a dream movies, (like Vanilla Sky, for example), made it seem old hat to me. The Matrix came out more than ten years ago (1999), Vanilla Sky (2001) almost that long ago. There's a whole generation of kids and young adults out there who might not have seen either, and perhaps to them, this is "their Matrix" or "their dream movie" that they'll reference in the term papers they'll be writing in the upcoming semesters. This group (consisting of students or unemployed young adults at wits end with the crummy job market) may be also the same one that has the time and interest to go see the movie repeatedly, and then, comment endlessly on message boards with their own theories about what they saw, and attack critics and posters online for not loving it.

3) The Nolan Zeitgeist: He was the director cherished by those in the know, self-made and independent. Then came The Dark Knight and (I suspect) a surge of interest in his previous work. He is now a megastar director in his prime, not unlike Spielberg, Cameron, or Scott once were. He also continues to bring his indie attributes to the mainstream instead of leaving them behind like so many before him have. People want to love what he does to be part of the movement, perhaps at the cost of not being honest with themselves. They WANT to love what he does, because they love his previous work, or (hopefully I'm wrong here) even to appear well-informed, smart, or "hip" to others. But is Inception something that should garner more discussion than Memento? What does it do better? The folding/crumbling architecture? The sets? The locations? More gun action?

People who thought Inception was a masterpiece: can you explain to doubters (like me) once and for all what it was that made it special enough to place it into that category? Do any of my points ring true?

Don't take this the wrong way, but I have yet to read a convincing argument. More commonly, I see posters either A) explaining their own theories on what actually happened, or B) shooting down naysayers' opinions over technicalities ("No, that was level two, the train was Mal's doing, blah blah") that doesn't have much to do with the discussion at hand: is this movie simply a good try by a wonderful writer/director, or a masterpiece?

Ah well its an informal poll so who cares. I definately don't think its overrated. I think the most overrated teen sensation is the Twilight saga hands down.
Toy Story 3 and Inception are my favorite movies of the year so yeah they're not overrated to me. Oh and The Social Network was really good too.

Don't listen to this review - Inception was easily the best movie of the year. It was perhaps the most underrated movie by far, as it was not as heavily advertised or review as the rest. The movie was faultless -> 10/10.

Inception is mind blowing!! Many people criticize it because they just don't get it. With a great cast and good effects I found it very entertaining and tried hard not to blink so that I didn't miss a thing! I would say that this film is definitely UNDERRATED!!!

The three comments above this one are excellent examples of what I was trying to get at in my previous post. Here they are again:

"Ah well its an informal poll so who cares. I definately [sic] don't think its [sic] overrated. I think the most overrated teen sensation is the Twilight saga hands down.
Toy Story 3 and Inception are my favorite movies of the year so yeah they're not overrated to me. Oh and The Social Network was really good too.

Posted by: special321 | 12/31/2010 at 01:23 PM"

Outside of finding it odd that special321 feels that the Twilight movies, which are regularly mocked by mainstream media, are somehow overrated, he or she gives no reason as to why Inception isn't overrated, instead going on to comment, "Toy Story 3 and Inception are my favorite movies of the year so yeah they're not overrated to me."

No offense intended, but that's not a convincing argument. Saying something isn't overrated because you really like it is actually not really an argument at all.

"Don't listen to this review - Inception was easily the best movie of the year. It was perhaps the most underrated movie by far, as it was not as heavily advertised or review as the rest. The movie was faultless -> 10/10.

Posted by: Steve Jobs | 12/31/2010 at 01:55 PM"

"Steve Jobs" says Inception was "easily the best movie of the year" without giving any reasoning (besides that it was "faultless") to back up his point. He also appears to be grasping at straws by claiming "it was not as heavily advertised or review [sic] as the rest."

Besides "the rest" being perhaps the broadest description one could possibly make about a set of movies, Inception was indeed both heavily marketed and reviewed. It covered websites in banner ads. It was advertised on television and before movies in theaters. It was covered relentlessy in the blogosphere. Its viral campaign involved a custom game where players could find the next trailer, one copy of which currently sits at 8,500,472 views on YouTube. That's no miracle.

Rottentomatoes.com counts 272 reviews for Inception. That's more than Toy Story 3's 248, and The Social Network's 258.

"Inception is mind blowing!! Many people criticize it because they just don't get it. With a great cast and good effects I found it very entertaining and tried hard not to blink so that I didn't miss a thing! I would say that this film is definitely UNDERRATED!!!

Posted by: Rae | 12/31/2010 at 05:13 PM"

Rae's comment is exactly what makes people on my side of the spectrum cringe. It reads like some unholy marriage between a Peter Travers review and a marketing meeting at Warner Bros. Let's review:

Rae says Inception is "mind blowing!!" and as is the norm, doesn't give any reason for such a bold statement. Rae then continues by returning to what seems to be the most favorite well of all Inception fans/apologists:

"Many people criticize it because they just don't get it. "

The statement, aside from meaning absolutely nothing, means infinitely less than absolutely nothing because Rae doesn't (or can't) tell you what "it" is.

This is exactly the problem that I'm having with comments like Rae's and others like it. Is Rae actually presuming that one's stance on Inception is some kind of litmus test for intelligence? If so, the comment doesn't do anything to build confidence in her position. Right now, it's like people are literally copying and pasting comments from other posts and making them their own, as if members of some form of unpaid Inception street team. It's scary.

I personally don't think that Inception was overrated at all BUT!! I don't feel that people who didn't like it are stupid not at all. Some people may of got the movie and still not liked it and you know what that's fine. Actually though believe it or not but I once thought the Godfather was overrated really. First time I watched it I found it boring and overrated but I totally got the plot and everything. The second and third time I saw the film I appreciated it more and now its definately one of my favorites. Sometimes it just takes more than 1 viewing to appreciate a movie even if you got the premise the first time. So yeah everyone's entitled to their own opinions and we shouldn't be harsh on those who think differently.
Just as long as you're not Armond White and claim that G.I. Joe or Transformers 2 is better oh and give The Last Airbender a fresh rating while giving Inception, The Dark Knight,and Toy Story 3 a rotten one(Armond White is actually an idiot and is just plain stupid). Or some other idiot on rotten tomatoes that gave Schindler's list a rotten rating while giving Gigli a fresh one.
So in all I really liked Inception and I think that its a brilliant film and I disagree with the people that think its overrated but I'm not calling them stupid nor do I hate them.

On a side note I personally think that Quentin Tarantino is overrated even with repeat viewings. He has entertaining movies in my opinion but his films lack substance(kind of like Transformers entertaining but that's all there is to it in my opinion).

Well someone has alot of time on their hands. Its okay I do too. Anyway the reason why I don't feel its overrated is because the story element really drew me in as well as the characters. I found the movie very entertaining and I liked the concept/idea of it. Even though people may argue that the movie isn't truly original. Which is true in a sense the word "original" is a very strong word people can compare movies to other movies at any given time and find some sort of similarities. In this case people may find Inception similar to The Matrix,Paprika,and Dark City(which are all good movies in my opinion but obviously I liked Inception the best oh and people may compare Inception to other movies but I can't think of them right now).
Anyway point is I wasn't trying to make an argument for Inception. I'm not trying to convince people who hate it to like it. It is what it is and I liked it. Also yes it is an informal poll so yeah that doesn't matter much even if it was a regular poll I still would like Inception the same. Everyone's bound to their own personal opinions. As for Twilight the reason why I said it's overrated and yes I know most critics hate it BUT!! most of my girl-friends(friends that are girls) talk about it ALL THE TIME!! and it annoys the crap out of me. Besides that people who don't like Inception are NOT!! stupid they just didn't like it and that's fine with me. I still do however hope that Academy members like it because I think it should win an Oscar. It may not win best picture but I just think Christopher Nolan deserves an Oscar maybe in directing or screenplay.

But Inception is worth puzzling over. Most people are puzzling over it right now on this page.When was the last time a movie was talked about this much? Good or bad the movie did do its Job. Its fine that you don't like it. You may think its overrated that's fine BUT!! you are still analyzing it and that's probably what Nolan wanted you to do. A movie can't satisfy every single person. People are bound to think a movies overrated at one point or another.If you see this movies rating its not nearly as good as The Dark Knight maybe its not supposed to be who knows(now I know you might mark me down for saying that)?
The thing is that people are defending it because they want it to win Oscar's just like me. Just because you don't like it though doesn't mean you're stupid. The answer probably lies in your #2 statements how you've seen lots of dream movies. I've never seen Vanilla Sky but even I found similarities to the matrix in it. However it still stands as its own movie. Even Christopher Nolan himself claimed to be inspired by Matrix so there.
All in all if you didn't like it fine but don't butcher people who did. I mean look at me. I don't butcher people who like Jersey Shore.

Okay, it seems like all the naysayers just want a real reason as to why this is as good as us Nolanists believe. I think it all comes down to the simple fact that Christopher Nolan actually tried to change the way we look at movies. He broke all the rules when it comes to the stereotypical traditions of Hollywood and actually delivered a movie unparalleled in its epic scope and imagination. How many movies in the last decade have attempted to tell this kind of story? Most movies are perfectly happy to do just retell what has already been told. Nolan has told a story with complete originality (and yes, even if its true that he "stole" the idea from something-or-other, he still told a story that we've never seen on film before).

I was literally blown away. “Inception” is what happens when a true visionary finds a unique story that hasn’t been told before and tells it in the most breathtaking way possible. A story that rivals the writing of Charlie Kaufman, the action of Michael Mann, and the emotion of Alan Ball, this movie will stand for years to come as to what magnificent storytelling heights films are capable of today.

Nolan combines complexity, originality, and ambitious storytelling to weave together a film that is without exaggeration is unlike anything we’ve seen before. As shown with “Memento” in 2000, Nolan doesn’t overly concerned himself with the fickleness of mainstream appeal or special efforts. All he has ever concerns himself with is telling the best story imaginable. That’s what makes Nolan great – his utter dedication to the story being above anything else.

So if a couple people didn't like it for whatever reason, that's fine. But I think us fans ARE fans simply because we're tired of the same-old, same-old and really enjoyed having something different for a change.

Overrated means to rate it too highly. It's exactly how it sounds. It doesn't mean you liked it, but are annoyed with people slobbing Nolan. Overrated would be a movie nominated for, lets say, a Golden Globe that doesn't deserve to be. If I had to pick, it would be The Kid's are Alright since that type of movie has been done to death, this time it contained lesbians and edgy humor. Good movie, but highly overrated.

Nolan is prob the best working director (incoming slob). He turned a joke comic that saw Adam West, DeVito playing the penguin and Batman with nips and made it into a modern noir thriller. Remade Insomnia (original was fantastic) and made his better. Memento and The Prestige are just as fantastic. I haven't seen anyone articulate a reason why Nolan isn't a good director, Inception is a bad movie or how its overrated. It's all opinions driven from frustration that maybe the movie you liked more isn't getting the praise it is. Movies are art but they are also entertainment. If you walked away entertained, happy you spent your 10.50$, then quit whining. If you didn't enjoy the movie and believe it was overrated, then you're an idiot and are wrong. I am right because I said so.

Goodness. No one said inception was BAD, just highly overrated. I would agree. And its not because its a bad movie in any way, its because i know people are hyping it so much simply because Christopher Nolan is attached to it. If Uwe Boll directed this film, everyone would be screaming about the gaping plot holes (which DO exist, its not that some of us are just "too stupid" to understand it. every movie has plot holes. Inception in fact has several.) and ignoring the clever plot setup.

The thing which frustrates me most, however, is how everyone says that inception is nolans masterpiece. What is that?? It's far behind Nolans batman movies, for one. The Dark Knight had far better exposition, (anyone taking a literature class can admit that sometimes Nolan's expositiuon in inception was a little choppy), character development, and the themes were much more clear and meaningful. Honestly, what do you know about the personalities of the characters in Inception besides Cobb, and to a lesser extent, Saito? not much. Not that thats too big of a flaw, but in the Dark Knight the characters were drawn with more detail and color. The themes in the dark knight were also much deeper and more cleverly ingrained in the plot.

Also, what in the world about Inception made it "mind blowing??" The complex plot? (Which honestly wasn't that confusing; you get most of the ideas on the first viewing and pick up a couple more details with the second viewing. thats about all it takes to get a good handle on this movie.) The real/unreal ideas? if thats so, i think the matrix was probably a lot more mind blowing than inception. again, this frustrates me because its not even Nolans most intentionally complex storyline. "Memento" was much more disorienting, and frankly a much tighter movie with fewer holes. I felt muich more mind blown at the end of memento than inception.

Again, i am in no way saying inception is a BAD film. it was solid, fun, and engaging. If this were some fresh new director's debut film, yeah, i might say masterpiece. but unlike everyone else who will say that because nolans name is attached to it, it is automatically ingenious, i feel like because it was nolan it was just a little underwhealming, considering how tight and developed his past pieces have been.

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