Inception: the "It sucked" version

I was really expecting something a little more exciting from the director of action-and-story-packed The Dark Knight.

Ariadne (Page) is supposed to be an amazing architect. In order to test her skill, Cobb (DiCaprio) presents her with a two-minute challenge in which she must draw a maze on a rectangular piece of graph paper. She draws a maze twice, and Cobb tells her she must do better. She then flips the paper over to the blank side and draws a, wait for it, circular maze. Holy S**t! I sure didn't expect her to do that! Oh, wait. I did. My question is, if she is so crafty, why cant she draw a circular maze on the graph-printed side of the paper? Are all those straight lines just too distracting? I have written and drawn on graph paper, many non-angular forms, without distraction (sometimes its the only paper around when you are married to a math teacher) and I'm not even a genius or a good artist or anything. Maybe she didn't have the experience I do with graph paper. I bet they just never used graph paper in architect school.

The next time Ariadne fails to impress me is during her second foray into the dream. I don't know if Ellen Page was cast incorrectly or if the writing was a little off. Again, we are meant to understand that her creative abilities are immense, and yet, the ways in which she warps the dream world are not that creative. She bends the street so that it is overhead and underfoot; She and Cobb are essentially enclosed in a loop of city scape. It is a decent idea, but doesn't seem that crazy, to me. Some of the CGI as they traverse this course isn't very good either. She makes two huge mirrors face each other to create an infinite reflection. Then she busts the glass out and it is a normal street again, one Cobb recognizes. Cobb explains to her that using real places is dangerous because it makes the dreamer's subconscious aware that something isn't right. So really the scene that is supposed to show me her "skills of an artist" ends up being exposition for things that are to be revealed in Cobb's character.

We only ever hear of her great accomplishments. They are never visible for us to see. The dreams are all normal-looking places, except her rip-off of the holodeck (the "vault" where Uncle Peter keeps his secrets). That looked dreamy. It also looked like something I've seen before, oh yeah, the holodeck! I am not about to be brainwashed into believing this character, just because the other dudes on the team keep telling everyone how brilliant she is or because there is ONE scene that shows her "office" full of maze models.

Somewhat inexplicably, Ariadne thrives as a psychologist. She's always playing the role of therapist to Cobb's guilt-ridden psyche. She helps him defeat his remorse and regret and get on with life. Cobb confides in her too easily. I allowed myself an out-loud "hmph" when Cobb said to Ariadne, "There's something you should know." This is something like their 14th very intimate conversation, the previous of which have given Ariadne more than enough information about Cobb's secrets. At this point, it should be, "there is something else..."

I felt a little exhausted at the end. The van's fall off the bridge took like 45 minutes, and then the movie was over about two minutes later. The big, gaping hole in the "gotta find old Ken Watanabe" subplot? How did they get back to the plane on time? They missed the kick. None of Cobb's journey to Saito (Watanabe) is explained. None of their return to consciousness is explained.

Also, I am docking points for excessive use of hair gel.