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jamesabrown
2010-Aug-03, 03:40 PM
Re: Inception. (SPOILER ALERT)

Once the credits rolled, I admit I was swept up in the hype, and declared the movie to be terrific, and I will say it was far superior to such derivative works like A-Team or insulting ones like Hot Tub Time Machine. But after a few days, my impression of the movie has cooled a bit. Here are some things I've thought about:

* So Ellen Page's character (Ariadne, for those who like their symbolic characters smashed into their faces) was hired on as an Architect, a supposed builder of worlds. Other than the mirror trick she pulled when learning the ropes, did she ever architect anything? All I remember her doing is playing Leonardo's conscience. Exactly how does she architect--tap keys on a laptop?

* "The Kick" was described as the mechanism to wake a person out of a dream state, and the two times the Kick was demonstrated, it merely took the slightest imbalance from level to upset the inner ear. Meaning all that was necessary for the Kick to, well, kick, was to tilt a sleeper forwards or sideways a bit, not smack them against the floor. So the first-level kick was supposed to be the van plunging into the river. But wouldn't the van rolling down the embankment have also kicked everyone awake? Or when it was vertically falling down to the river? Likewise, the second-level kick was the elevator shaft hitting the ground, but before that the sleepers were flipped and rolled repeatedly, which should have been enough.

* One big problem with movies that explore dreams is that it ramps down the tension. None of the characters were really in any danger, were they? They were all asleep on a trans-oceanic jet. Had they all failed their mission, then they would have gotten off the plane and . . . what? Yes, they might have been trapped in a dream world, but as the movie progressed, we learned that wasn't the death sentence we might imagine. Leonardo was supposedly trapped on one level for fifty years, and he made it out all right, having not aged fifty years in his bed. So what are we rooting for? Whose the villain who must be stopped? The CEO, the poor guy who just wants to be loved? The explanation of, "If we don't get him to break up his company, they'll corner the market in energy" seemed contrived, and since the explanation came from the CEO's competitor--who would love to see his competition broken up and weak--I kept waiting for him to be revealed as the secret villain.

* And of course, there's the whole, "Maybe the whole thing was a dream" uncertainty hammered home by the cutaway from the top spinning, wobbling, spinning. It's curious how Leo's memories of his children were identical to their behavior when he got to finally see them, and how they hadn't aged during his time on the run. Nolan didn't tell us how long Leo was a fugitive (who can maneuver through society with remarkable ease) but I'll wager it was more than a week or two. Combined with scenes like Leo getting caught in a narrow alleyway--which remarkably felt like the claustrophobia one encounters in a dream--and before long, I'm thinking that the entire movie from start to finish is Leo's dream--in which case there is truly nothing at stake.

* The constructs, the people who were battling the heroes, seemed remarkably cardboard. Granted, they were mere figments of the imagination, but imagination is supposed to be superior to reality, right? At one point during the ice fortress scene, a baddie grabs Eames' gun and throws it over a railing, then he throws Eames over the same railing, which allows Eames to pick up his gun again and shoot the guy. It was almost as if the guy was supposed to get himself killed.

One reviewer I read said the movie was a technical marvel but left her emotionally cold, and I find I have to agree.

Tog
2010-Aug-03, 04:20 PM
Continuing the spoiler alert on Inception



I was bothered by the lack of a real bad guy too. By my way of thinking, the Asian guy was the bad guy, so the whole film was about beating the good guys. I was also bothered by the fact that everyone in the hotel needed to be in the elevator for the kick when the van hit the river.

The first kick was supposed to be flying off the bridge, but they missed it. Hitting the water was the improvised back up. The time from the bridge to the water would have been 5 seconds at most, and probably closer to 2 to 3. At three seconds, it would have given him 1 minute to rig everything in the hotel and 20 minutes in the snow fortress. I remember them saying 20 minutes in the snow fortress, but I think he took a lot longer than 60 seconds to get everyone into the elevator.

The way I understood things, The architect created the world that everyone entered, but the architect and the dreamer had to be different people. She actually made up all three layers of the main dream.

Here's what I think happened.

It was explained by the Third Rock guy that the purposed of those items was to test reality because no one would know exactly how that object would behave. No one knew the balance on the loaded die but him so if he were trapped in someone else's dream, the feel of that item would be off. Fair enough, but there is the first flaw in LDC's test. He has a top. In the dreams the top never falls. Who would design a dream where a top never falls and expect people to accept it?

Flaw #2. LDC told Ellen Page that the top doesn't fall in dreams. She designs the worlds. If she wants to keep him happy and out of the way, she knows the secret to beating his test.

He's in a dream that she created, probably several layers down.

grant hutchison
2010-Aug-03, 04:54 PM
We were told that the architect specifically designs the layout of the dreamworld as a maze in order to make it difficult for the dreamer's various subconscious avatars to hunt down the intruders. So the architect designs the layout, but seems to have no control over physical laws: otherwise gravity shifts could have been routinely designed out of the dreams. So we're being invited to believe that dreams contain odd physical laws with regard to spinning tops, among other things, and that one can then use a "totem" to test for dreamworld physics.

With regard to the absent "bad guy", I suspect most of the stories I enjoy don't actually have bad guys. I didn't think this story had one or needed one.

With regard to the ending, it's perhaps significant that we don't see how DiCaprio finds Watanabe or how they both "kick" back to reality: both scene changes just fire up in media res. And we've already been told that it's a characteristic of the dream state that you can't remember exactly how you got to where you are. That, coupled with the unchanged appearance of his kids, does seem to suggest he might still be dreaming in Limbo.

Grant Hutchison

Gillianren
2010-Aug-03, 05:06 PM
Even more spoilers!


* So Ellen Page's character (Ariadne, for those who like their symbolic characters smashed into their faces) was hired on as an Architect, a supposed builder of worlds. Other than the mirror trick she pulled when learning the ropes, did she ever architect anything? All I remember her doing is playing Leonardo's conscience. Exactly how does she architect--tap keys on a laptop?

You didn't see the places where she was showing cardboard cutouts and so forth?


* "The Kick" was described as the mechanism to wake a person out of a dream state, and the two times the Kick was demonstrated, it merely took the slightest imbalance from level to upset the inner ear. Meaning all that was necessary for the Kick to, well, kick, was to tilt a sleeper forwards or sideways a bit, not smack them against the floor. So the first-level kick was supposed to be the van plunging into the river. But wouldn't the van rolling down the embankment have also kicked everyone awake? Or when it was vertically falling down to the river? Likewise, the second-level kick was the elevator shaft hitting the ground, but before that the sleepers were flipped and rolled repeatedly, which should have been enough.

Yeah, I wondered about that, too.


* One big problem with movies that explore dreams is that it ramps down the tension. None of the characters were really in any danger, were they? They were all asleep on a trans-oceanic jet. Had they all failed their mission, then they would have gotten off the plane and . . . what? Yes, they might have been trapped in a dream world, but as the movie progressed, we learned that wasn't the death sentence we might imagine. Leonardo was supposedly trapped on one level for fifty years, and he made it out all right, having not aged fifty years in his bed. So what are we rooting for? Whose the villain who must be stopped? The CEO, the poor guy who just wants to be loved? The explanation of, "If we don't get him to break up his company, they'll corner the market in energy" seemed contrived, and since the explanation came from the CEO's competitor--who would love to see his competition broken up and weak--I kept waiting for him to be revealed as the secret villain.

Why does there have to be a villain? I mean this seriously. No, Ken Watanabe didn't turn out to be evil. Marion Cotillard wasn't stalking them. But the world of dreams is the world of the mind, and in the world of the mind, the conflict is all internal. There doesn't need to be moustache-twirling. In a way, of course, Marion Cotillard is the villain, inasmuch as the biggest problem is with what's wrong with Leonardo diCaprio. Conflict is the important part of drama, and one of the things I found interesting was that diCaprio was both the protagonist and the antagonist.


* And of course, there's the whole, "Maybe the whole thing was a dream" uncertainty hammered home by the cutaway from the top spinning, wobbling, spinning. It's curious how Leo's memories of his children were identical to their behavior when he got to finally see them, and how they hadn't aged during his time on the run. Nolan didn't tell us how long Leo was a fugitive (who can maneuver through society with remarkable ease) but I'll wager it was more than a week or two. Combined with scenes like Leo getting caught in a narrow alleyway--which remarkably felt like the claustrophobia one encounters in a dream--and before long, I'm thinking that the entire movie from start to finish is Leo's dream--in which case there is truly nothing at stake.

Except to him, of course. After all, the characters are all imaginary either way, right? We are agreeing to accept their lives as real. They aren't, as noted by the fact that none of us remember any of the character names but Ariadne. What we're doing is letting these people's lives matter to us. It's an illusion. That illusion isn't taken away if it involves fighting real monsters or if it's all one man trying to come to terms with his past mistakes. That might even be part of Nolan's point.


* The constructs, the people who were battling the heroes, seemed remarkably cardboard. Granted, they were mere figments of the imagination, but imagination is supposed to be superior to reality, right? At one point during the ice fortress scene, a baddie grabs Eames' gun and throws it over a railing, then he throws Eames over the same railing, which allows Eames to pick up his gun again and shoot the guy. It was almost as if the guy was supposed to get himself killed.

Yes and no. Yes, imagination is better than reality sometimes, but you weren't interested in a lot of Christopher Nolan's imagination. And after all, even in my daydreams, which I remember more clearly, there are all those background characters who are, yes, cardboard. Imagination doesn't mean everyone is completely detailed, because you don't need them to be.


One reviewer I read said the movie was a technical marvel but left her emotionally cold, and I find I have to agree.

I think I got into it more on an intellectual level, but at the same time, I felt a lot of sympathy for all that regret in that little ball inside diCaprio.


I was bothered by the lack of a real bad guy too. By my way of thinking, the Asian guy was the bad guy, so the whole film was about beating the good guys. I was also bothered by the fact that everyone in the hotel needed to be in the elevator for the kick when the van hit the river.

That had physics to do with it in some way I didn't understand to do with the motion of the elevator, I think. And the zero-G. I guess. And again, I wasn't at all bothered by the lack of a villain; in my way of thinking, it would have taken away from the real focus of the story.


The first kick was supposed to be flying off the bridge, but they missed it. Hitting the water was the improvised back up. The time from the bridge to the water would have been 5 seconds at most, and probably closer to 2 to 3. At three seconds, it would have given him 1 minute to rig everything in the hotel and 20 minutes in the snow fortress. I remember them saying 20 minutes in the snow fortress, but I think he took a lot longer than 60 seconds to get everyone into the elevator.

Yeah, the time didn't work.


The way I understood things, The architect created the world that everyone entered, but the architect and the dreamer had to be different people. She actually made up all three layers of the main dream.

As, again, evidenced by all those cardboard models during the montage.


It was explained by the Third Rock guy that the purposed of those items was to test reality because no one would know exactly how that object would behave. No one knew the balance on the loaded die but him so if he were trapped in someone else's dream, the feel of that item would be off. Fair enough, but there is the first flaw in LDC's test. He has a top. In the dreams the top never falls. Who would design a dream where a top never falls and expect people to accept it?

Not only that, but what did he have before?


Flaw #2. LDC told Ellen Page that the top doesn't fall in dreams. She designs the worlds. If she wants to keep him happy and out of the way, she knows the secret to beating his test.

Yeah, I thought of that, too, and that might be what happened at the end.


He's in a dream that she created, probably several layers down.

Possible. It's one of three or four possible answers I've come up with.

eburacum45
2010-Aug-03, 05:15 PM
I'm intrigued. This dreamscape plot in Inception sounds like something out of Greg Bear's novel 'Queen of Angels', rather than the Matrix. I must get round to seeing it.

parallaxicality
2010-Aug-03, 05:51 PM
I don't think they ever did explain the gravity in the deeper levels, no, and it was one of the few things which really bothered me.

I think the idea was that at the lower levels, things were moving too slowly for the acceleration to trigger zero-g


Except to him, of course. After all, the characters are all imaginary either way, right? We are agreeing to accept their lives as real. They aren't, as noted by the fact that none of us remember any of the character names but Ariadne. What we're doing is letting these people's lives matter to us. It's an illusion. That illusion isn't taken away if it involves fighting real monsters or if it's all one man trying to come to terms with his past mistakes. That might even be part of Nolan's point.

Prospero comes to mind; "We are such stuff as dreams are made on". What was true for the theatre is true ten times over for the cinema.

Gillianren
2010-Aug-03, 06:07 PM
Can I first say that I love that you quoted that correctly? Humphrey Bogart didn't manage it.

That explanation of the gravity does actually make some sense, though a throwaway line in the movie might have been nice. Or maybe there was one, and I missed it. I know it was one of the things we discussed on our way out of the theatre and on the drive home, but there was also a lot of analysis of the story and what the layers were. We compared the visual distinctions of each layer to the colour schemes of Hero.

Van Rijn
2010-Aug-17, 03:16 AM
Re: Inception. (SPOILER ALERT)

Once the credits rolled, I admit I was swept up in the hype, and declared the movie to be terrific, and I will say it was far superior to such derivative works like A-Team or insulting ones like Hot Tub Time Machine. But after a few days, my impression of the movie has cooled a bit.


I just watched the movie. My general feeling was that it was interesting, but wasn't great. By the way, these days I'm pretty much always finding that I need earplugs if I want to go to a movie in a theater - it just seems to be expected that they're supposed to be painfully loud. This movie seemed worse than some, with a very quickly changing sound environment, and lots of noise in the action scenes.



* "The Kick" was described as the mechanism to wake a person out of a dream state, and the two times the Kick was demonstrated, it merely took the slightest imbalance from level to upset the inner ear. Meaning all that was necessary for the Kick to, well, kick, was to tilt a sleeper forwards or sideways a bit, not smack them against the floor. So the first-level kick was supposed to be the van plunging into the river. But wouldn't the van rolling down the embankment have also kicked everyone awake? Or when it was vertically falling down to the river? Likewise, the second-level kick was the elevator shaft hitting the ground, but before that the sleepers were flipped and rolled repeatedly, which should have been enough.


I had a lot of problems with the elevator idea. This was supposed to be a freefall environment and the explosions (somehow) very quickly accelerated the cab. Everyone would have hit the ceiling of the cab at that time, and that should have woken them up.

So either somebody didn't think this through, or it is just supposed to be written off as arbitrary dream physics. But if it was dream physics, how did he know the rules? Did he invent them himself? If he did, why not come up with something that would be easier to set up and time?

Van Rijn
2010-Aug-17, 03:41 AM
Except to him, of course. After all, the characters are all imaginary either way, right? We are agreeing to accept their lives as real. They aren't, as noted by the fact that none of us remember any of the character names but Ariadne. What we're doing is letting these people's lives matter to us. It's an illusion. That illusion isn't taken away if it involves fighting real monsters or if it's all one man trying to come to terms with his past mistakes. That might even be part of Nolan's point.


Perhaps, but I think it's a point that's been made too often - the "Was it all a dream?" idea has been run into the ground, in my opinion, along with "It was all a dream"/time travel reset stories.

Gillianren
2010-Aug-17, 04:11 AM
I think, if an ending is done well, it can still be done well even if so many people have done it badly that it makes you want to scream.

IsaacKuo
2010-Aug-17, 02:44 PM
I just watched the movie. My general feeling was that it was interesting, but wasn't great.
My reaction while watching it was that I thought it was very straightforward. It was only afterward that I started re-thinking what was going on, and found it more interesting.

I had a lot of problems with the elevator idea. This was supposed to be a freefall environment and the explosions (somehow) very quickly accelerated the cab. Everyone would have hit the ceiling of the cab at that time, and that should have woken them up.
The idea was that they would be woken up by the sensation of falling. This means suddenly going from normal gravity to free fall. But they were already in free fall.

The explosions created a lot of expanding gas, which accelerated the cab. This created artificial gravity in the cab, so the people inside experienced normal gravity. This acceleration stopped when the cab hit the roof, sending the people inside into sudden freefall--this is what provided the necessary "kick". Everyone except for Cobb and Saito made it for this kick.

So either somebody didn't think this through, or it is just supposed to be written off as arbitrary dream physics. But if it was dream physics, how did he know the rules? Did he invent them himself? If he did, why not come up with something that would be easier to set up and time?
The physics rules are determined by the dreamer, but in a shared dream the projections of the other dreamers will be disturbed by exceptional physics.

In this case, the dreamer was Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character, Arthur. It was previously stated that while Arthur was exceptional at his job, he lacked imagination. Maybe he could have simply "willed" the necessary equipment in place, or come up with some sort of more efficient solution, had he more imagination. Alternatively, maybe that would have upset the projections even more. He had his hands full just fighting off one projection. So sticking to the rules may have been the best choice.

IsaacKuo
2010-Aug-17, 03:11 PM
It was explained by the Third Rock guy that the purposed of those items was to test reality because no one would know exactly how that object would behave. No one knew the balance on the loaded die but him so if he were trapped in someone else's dream, the feel of that item would be off. Fair enough, but there is the first flaw in LDC's test. He has a top. In the dreams the top never falls. Who would design a dream where a top never falls and expect people to accept it?
Without handling the top, the dreamer wouldn't know when/how the top is supposed to fall over. So simply knowing that it's supposed to fall over isn't enough for the deception. I accept the "top doesn't fall over" as an artistic license--it gives the audience the ability to tell whether the test has succeeded/failed. That isn't really the full extent of the test, but it helps tell the story smoothly.

But this test is indeed compromised! When Cobb is captured in Saito's limbo castle, Saito handles the top. So from then on, the top will behave as "normal" within Saito's dreams. At the end of the movie, Cobb is in Saito's dream. But it doesn't matter to Cobb; he has already taken the "leap of faith" in Saito's promise to make his problem go away.

(It's established that it's sufficient to handle the top within a dream, because that's how Cobb deceived Mal.)

vonmazur
2010-Aug-17, 10:09 PM
Thanks guys: I will wait for the sat dish to present it, and "Ubik" sounded better anyhow..

Dale