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Saying Inception is many layers deep is both critically and literally true. Are these layers good? Well, there is next to no emotional value to the movie. The acting is… average, certainly nothing to applaud. The action was a bit generic and the camera finicky when action was going on.

But the movie, the movie was brilliant.

There is quite a marvel of plot points and dynamics to keep track of, and yet it was so clear in what was happening. The use of flashing back constantly and in routine the different “layers” of dream was so reassuring and kept the viewer perfectly on track. I was constantly trying to solve the puzzle, and my attention was also kept so perfectly in check. The level of complexity is just phenomenally well balanced.

What makes this movie one that is great to review though, is it’s interesting philosophical and psychological ideas.

The idea is a time worn classic, what is reality and what is a dream? The ending most exemplifies this point, and while there were a thousand possible endings, the one chosen is such an elegantly simple one that it works perfectly. I had all sorts of my own theories while watching, but the ending was so surprisingly simple it was as if a lightning strike of the whole purpose of the movie was put into one second of time.

Now, I will say there are a great many flaws from the logical point of view that I got annoyed with. Why could time be slowed in a compounding fashion? Why didn’t Leonardo’s character have his own Totem? (he only used his wife’s) While minor, I was annoyed by these inconsistencies, and wanted everything to be better explained. The movie lacked the mesmerizing quality of movies such as “The Matrix” with its trip down the rabbit hole. Rather Inception felt more exact with it’s journey, but simultaneously frustrating that it didn’t have that flair.

If I may talk about the ideas presented in Inception for the sake of the ideas (there will be spoilers in this paragraph), I personally loved them and loved hearing the questioning whispers when the movie ended. “Did it fall?” resounded in the room. My response “Is it relevant?”. Cobbs had spent 50 years in Limbo with his wife. His life was spent there. Was it real? It was real enough for him, and certainly for his wife, who hid away her ability to tell it was a false world. He explains in a climatic scene that he can’t look at his children’s faces because they aren’t real. In the end though, he seems to still be trapped in limbo, and sees their faces at that precise age they were, do you believe he’s any less happy? Only the crippling idea of “this world isn’t real” was preventing him from true happiness, as his wife attempts to explain.

It’s truly a well explored idea in this movie.

As a few final thoughts, The soundtrack was stellar, the special effects so realistic yet fantastic and the plot just wonderful. In any case, this movie is a thrilling trip.

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5 Comments

  1. I completely agree with you, for the most part, but I think there was some emotional value to the movie. At least more than you give credit to in this review. At least for me. Although I suppose the depth of the emotional layer is debatable between persons, seeing as emotion can be stirred by different events, depending on experiences of the subject experiencing said event. Or something along those lines. Either way, I think we both agree just how great this movie is.
    Just curious though, what do you rank this movie out of 100, and where does it lie on your list of 400 or 500 some movies reviewed?

    • I was a little harsh on the emotional value. I think I just didn’t connect with DiCaprio’s character very much, but they did try.

      I hadn’t thought of a ranking system for this blog yet, but out of 100, I’d give it 92. It’s just outside that “Masterpiece” range. but still one of the best movies in a long time. No idea where it goes on my list haha, haven’t looked at it in a while.

  2. I think you neglected to mention a scene of great importance. During his fall into limbo, Cobb actually explains how he knows he wife isn’t real, and that she’s just a dream.The capriciousness of Human Nature makes it impossible for Cobb to precisely and completely describe his (deceased) wife. Memories of this fairly climactic scene should come to mind when you Cobb see his ‘childrens” faces.

    After that scene we can begin to contemplate two fairly simple endings: either Cobb is back in the real world, and is with his real children, et cetera; or, Cobb has resigned himself to his fate, in the pursuit of happiness he allows himslelf to live in a lie, as he and, more so, his wife fell into Limbo the first time during their experimentation. Of course, everything is unresolved in the end, when the top is left spinning (though the instability was never present in dreams…).

    As for the matter of Totems, they were a very novel and clever idea to solve the problem of what would otherwise have developed into a psychosis. However, since they were never properly explained, I found Totems to be fairly confusing. Obviously dreams are subject to the
    wills of the Dreamers (and, of course, the Architect), but the question remains, who conjures, and who controls the Totems? If the Architect, the creator of the world manifests them, well, that’s kinda ridiculous, why even bother with them? I’m sure Lyzl could logic that one up… but it’s not a very intreating musing. Better is if the Dreamers create the objects (including their Totems), as was stated both at the beginning of the movie, whilst training the new Architect, and implied when a grenade launcher was pulled out of God knows where, followed by a “you gotta think bigger.” If it is the case that Dreamers created their own Totems in Somnium, then what prevents them from dreaming up a correctly weighted die? Or a top that tumbles? Or a chess piece (which was way underplayed that move; it could of been so cool) that falls in just the right way? That would all rely on the dreamer trying to will it to feel wrong, or fall over. The human mind is a powerful thing, and it is easily able to alter perceived events in our ‘real’ life. If a Dreamer wanted a dream to be real, it can easily become so.

    Sorry, that last paragraph was rant-ish.

    Good review Lyzl, keep up the good blogging.

    — Sam

    • Sorry for all the spelling/ grammar mistakes. iPhones have a mind of their own when it comes to writing.
      “when you see Cobb seeing his children”
      “intriguing”
      And the others.

    • I’ve had a few long conversations about the film since its… inception, and have a few thoughts on this.

      I do remember the scene with his inability to fully recognize his wife, although I’m confused as to how it relates to his childrens’ faces. Should he not have remembered them? What was most odd to me was their positioning (exactly as Cobbs always dreamed them), and their age (exactly as they were in the dreams). I think that was too obviously implying a dream.

      For the ending, the main idea seems to be as you say: Either really with his children or in a dream. What I think is so key though is the importance of not knowing. What is important is that he lived a “real life” in limbo with his wife, and afterward, had “real” problems with her after they got out and she was obsessed with getting out of their fake reality. Notice what she concluded and what he concluded in response. It is purposefully irrelevant if he is in the real world or a dream, he choose to live it regardless of the delusion of it all. That’s what I think is significant about the ending, he choose to live.

      Totems did need some help, especially since the ending hinges on one. the dynamics between architect and dreamer weren’t explained well enough the first time around for me either, possibly in future viewings I’ll understand it better, but I found it hard to follow what exactly an architect vs dreamer vs observer could do in a dream. My only hazy conclusion was that all non-dreamers had some ability to manipulate the dream as an architect (hence the ability to conjure guns and trains and disguises all in the same dream by different non-dreamers), and the architect was just he name given to the person most responsible for the dream’s layout. Totems were confusing because it was not properly explained who could manipulate dreams and how. The only person who could conjure one’s totem perfectly is oneself, but even so, wouldn’t you conjure the correct totem in every dream? It really did need more explanation.

      Thanks for the comments. It was certainly a movie worth talking about.


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