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♕ Chibi ([personal profile] chibichan) wrote2013-02-01 01:02 pm

a rant on the film "Inception"

The past few days have been... weird. I've been feeling worse than usual health-wise and, because of it, I've missed all my lectures this week. Except reading some material for Property Law, I haven't done much this week. I feel like I should have done more, but I was feeling pretty bad and there's not much I could have done about it, so I'm not going to stress over it. I'm also feeling better today and I'm grateful for that.

I feel like there's a lot of stuff that I want to talk about (real life-wise and fandom-wise), but at the same time I don't know if these are 'spur of the moment' thoughts that will go away or if they're something I should really write down and get them off my chest. I guess I'll just wait and see if I still feel the need to write down this stuff.

Anyway, I watched Inception! Not sure I liked it though. I felt like the concepts of the movie were really interesting, but the way the movie was executed was just needlessly complicated and confusing. I understand the plot, I really do. I don't think the plot is hard to understand at all, actually - it's just the way they actually do it in the movie that raises questions and is kind of confusing.

I feel like there should have been more explanation about the whole process - not only the inception itself, but the whole 'getting into other people's dreams' business. How do they actually do it? When was it invented? Are there any limits to it? I wanted to know more about it. The movie sort of explained those bits, but mostly it just gave me the 'this happens, deal with it' vibe, where you just have to accept this is what happens, but I don't like it when movies do this. This is not a programming language, where stuff is the way it is just because, it's a film and you need to explain certain things to the people who feel the need to have those things explained. I can accept things are the way they are only up to a certain point.

Then I felt the explanations in the movie (the little bits there were here and there) were not done well. (I will use the actors' names because I don't remember any of the characters' names.) Like when Leonard di Caprio is teaching Ellen Page about the dream world, how to build dreams and of all that. I felt like Ellen Page already knew those things because she had learned the script, not because Leo was explaining it well. And I can't help myself but draw the parallels between this film and The Matrix trilogy (which I love). In the first Matrix movie, Neo was just like us - he was learning all this stuff about the world and the Matrix without knowing a single thing. And the explanations that Morpheus gave him in that movie made sense and were easy to grasp even for the audience - that's because Neo, the main character, had to make sure to really understand how stuff worked, otherwise the movies themselves would not work. The audience related to Neo, in the sense that they both were discovering the Matrix for the first time, and Morpheus's explanation was good and helpful and it made sure both Neo and the audience could follow the movies. In Inception, I did not relate to Ellen Page at all - it was quite obvious to me that she was 'getting' stuff because she had learned a script, not because her character was actually understanding anything. I certainly wasn't feeling like I was getting every bit of information. The dialogue was too short and was made of lots of one-line sentences that, put together, did not make any sense. Alienating the audience is about the worst mistake you can make when making a film.

Then there were just a bunch of plot-holes that I just can't ignore. Here's the list:

- This film is all about dreams, and yet I find it highly uninventive. Sure, the special effect of the city folding on itself was nice to look at, but... is that really the best you can do? You can dream up literally anything you want - so why would you not dream of dragons, super-advanced technology, other mythological creatures and so on? The dream world looked really boring to me.

The scene when they're being chased and shot at in the dream is a good example of this. So, the guy's 'defences' against dream-invaders (which brings yet another bunch of questions, like, why does he have mental defences against dream-thieves? Is it an ability you're born with? Do you train to get it? If so, what kind of training do you have to go through? etc.) is a bunch of mob guys with guns. Really? If it was me, I would choose something more effective and more creative, like, I don't know, how about a giant dragon? Or an army of werewolves? Heck, I bet even the Sailor Senshis would do a better job and would definitely be more creative than just a bunch of guys with guns. If you're going to train yourself so that people cannot infiltrate your dreams, why wouldn't you choose better security? It's not like it's the real world - you can just dream those things up in your mind and they will appear. So why not?

And the same thing goes for Leo and his team. If the guys with guns were really a problem for them, why not dream up some superpowers and beat them? Again, the dream world seems very limited, considering it's made of, y'know, dreams and supposedly anyone can dream anything.

- Why did they need Ellen Page's character at all? So that she could build the places they would go to in the guy's dream? How does that even work? When you go into somebody else's dream, aren't you going to be trapped in their dream? How do you make them dream something you made up instead? Surely, if you have the technology or the ability to make people dream anything that you want, inception shouldn't be as hard as the movie makes it look.

- The whole execution of the plan wasn't explained well. Why was it necessary to go through three different layers of dreaming to plant the idea in the guy's head? Why couldn't they do it on the first or second level? Also, the places where the dreams took places seemed really random. Why was the first level a street? Why was the second level of dreaming set in a hotel? And the third one, which is the one that really annoys me, why was it set on a snow mountain where it looks like they're shooting scenes for a Call of Duty movie?! Seriously, I really felt like I was watching someone play Call of Duty at that point in the movie. The 'sets' for the dreams were not explained and they really just looked like a bunch of action movies packed together.

- The whole concept of 'limbo' was not explained well either. So if you get injured in the dream and you don't back out of it in time, you go into limbo? Does your body go physically into a coma? And if the Japanese guy is really in so much danger, why the heck don't they just kill him and make him wake up?! He didn't do anything important in the dream anyway, he just joined in to make sure they were going to succeed, but he had nothing to do with their plan. Just have him wake up, it's not that hard or even dramatic.

- The plot and the characters were just not relatable at all and honestly, not even that dramatic. So you have a rich Japanese guy who wants to get rid of the competition on the market so that he can get even richer. Huh. Okay... good for you? I mean, who cares? A rich guy wants to get even richer. It's no 'the fate of the world rests in your hands' kind of thing. Why should I care about some douche who can't get enough of money? Or why should I care for Leonardo di Caprio's character? Because he's the main character? Nothing changes at the end of this film. Maybe that's the 'beauty' of it, but I just can't care about it. If anything, it makes me feel sad for the guy who gets the idea planted in his head, because it seems to me that he really didn't do anything bad to deserve it and they just tampered with his memory of his father's death, something which is very personal. This film gives me nothing and no one to care about - again, alienating the audience.

- So they used the guy's father's death to plant the idea that he had to be "his own man" and leave the company. Great. I have only one question though. You know how, when they're on the plane and Leo gives the guy his passport back, the guy just randomly tells him about his father's death, totally out of the blue? And then they used the father's death to plant the idea? Had the guy not told Leo about his father's death... how the heck were they going to do it?! It seemed like the father's death was the very essence of their plan, but they had no way of knowing about it until the guy just randomly said it five minutes before they started their plan. Isn't this kind of a huge plot-hole?

- No idea what's up with the ending. Leo is in limbo with the Japanese guy and then the Japanese guy says, 'Let's not be in limbo anymore' and they wake up. What just happened? How? Why? How did Leo go into limbo? Because he didn't exit his dream in time? Didn't you end up in limbo when you got an injury in the dream world and did not wake up? I got the impression that Leo supposedly died in the dream with his wife - shouldn't he have woken up then? Did he go into limbo because he stayed in the fourth layer of dream while he was drowning in the first layer? So how does that work? You wake up when you die, unless you're in a deeper layer of dreams? See, if the film had explained this stuff to me, I wouldn't be complaining - but it didn't, so of course I have tons of questions.

Drawing another parallel with The Matrix here - I know how the Matrix works. I know that you can bend reality if you can wrap your head around the concept that stuff doesn't really exist and it's all a bunch of data; and I know that if you get injured or die in the Matrix, you die in the real world, too. Simple enough and well explained. This whole 'limbo' thing in Inception? Not so much.

- If Leo's character is so dangerous because his wife always comes along and kills people... why don't they just tell him to stay out of the dream world?! Seriously. You've got this guy with his killer wife on the loose in his brain and you allow him to be in your dream operation? Why would you do that? That's just adding needless danger to an already dangerous situation. And don't tell me they didn't know about this - Ellen Page knows (and doesn't tell anyone, how nice of her) and the guy who appears at the beginning of the film who works with Leo (you know, the guy who fights in the hallway with no gravity for three hours) must know, because he has been working with Leo his whole life! It could be so simple. Just tell Leo to stay out of the dream. He could still work with them on the project before they went in the guy's dream and he could tell them what to do, just don't let him fall asleep. He didn't even do anything particularly important for the operation - while the guy was getting 'incepted' by watching his father, Leo was having a whole different dream with his wife and Ellen Page. He wasn't even there when the inception was happening!

- No idea what was up with the wife. What exactly did she hide in the safe and why? What did the token symbolise? Why did she have a spinning top as a token of all things? Absolutely no idea. Again, I can't care if I don't know the basic or the important stuff!

- Biggest plot-hole of them all: why couldn't Michael Caine just fly the kids over to wherever Leo was if Leo wanted to see his kids so bad? And would the American police/law system really just blindly declare Leo guilty of his wife's murder? Did the fact that the wife had not one, not two, but three psychiatrists/psychologists test her and make sure she was found sound of mind not tip anyone off? Were there no witnesses when she jumped off the building? Leo was screaming so loud, I'm sure someone must have opened their window or looked up the street to see what the hell was going on. I find this whole set-up somehow hard to believe.

So yeah... this post turned into an Inception rant, somehow. I didn't realise how much stuff I had to say about the film until I sat down and wrote it. Overall I felt like it was trying to be something 'deep' and 'amazing', but failed to explain its premise and the basics, not allowing me to really enjoy it. Sorry, Christopher Nolan. I love your Batman films, but this one really didn't do anything for me.

Anyway, if any of you guys wants to discuss the film, go ahead! I always love a good discussion. :D And if you have an answer or more to my questions, then feel free to post them! Maybe you'll help me fill the plot-holes!
meicdon13: (Default)

[personal profile] meicdon13 2013-02-01 03:01 pm (UTC)(link)
Inception was one of those movies that I enjoyed while I was watching it, but it didn't really leave a lasting impression on me afterwards (though I did hang out in the fandom a bit because of the Eames/Arthur ship).

I do agree with the "boring-ness" of the dreamworld. My dreams are hardly set in normal situations.
celestineangel: (Inception - Arthur on a horse)

[personal profile] celestineangel 2013-02-01 03:42 pm (UTC)(link)
Well, I adore this movie. XD Not that you don't have some excellent criticisms: I totally agree with you that the dream world could have been more exciting and creative. I do think they tried to explain that, though, because--well, my understanding of it was that when you're trying to extract information or incept an idea into someone, the goal is for that person not to know it's a dream. So, if dragons start showing up, that would ruin the whole "this is not a dream it's totally real" vibe. Obviously, it doesn't always work; if I remember correctly (it's been a while since I've seen it), Cobb (DiCaprio) does end up telling Fischer it's a dream. So... I dunno. I think it mostly makes sense in context, but not always. (Also, fixing this is what fanfiction is for, LOL!)

They knew about Fischer Sr.'s death because it was big news; it was in the papers and things.

About the spinning top totem; it's not explained why it was Mal's totem, but my understanding is that the totem doesn't have to have some deep, personal meaning, it only has to be an object that will behave a certain way in reality that it won't in the dream, thus giving the dreamer a way of testing when they are awake and when they are dreaming. It has a deep meaning for Cobb because it was Mal's originally, and because he used it to get her out of limbo, and basically killed her with it. It's also not explained why Mal had a safe in limbo, but Cobb placing it in there, spinning eternally, is what seeded the thought in her mind that her world wasn't real, because the top spun endlessly, the way it would in a dream. Unfortunately, Cobb didn't look forward to what would happen once they woke up, and the top stayed where it was, still spinning endlessly... hence, Mal was never going to believe that she was awake or that her world was real ever again, even when it was. (Edit: HAHA it was explained why Mal had a safe, just not directly in relation to Mal: in dreams, safes, jail cells, those sorts of things represent the place we keep our most closely guarded secrets, and possibly the unconscious as well. So. There you have it.)

And that is all I feel I can explain. XD There is more information about the PASIV device out there on the Internet, but Nolan basically left things as unexplained as possible for... reasons? I guess?
Edited 2013-02-01 15:44 (UTC)
celestineangel: (Inception - Spinning Top)

[personal profile] celestineangel 2013-02-01 04:26 pm (UTC)(link)
You're welcome!

From what I understand, you pretty much have it right: telling the mark that it's a dream is a very risky gambit for the invading team. It's not the best way to go, but Cobb figured it would be the best way to go knowing that Fischer had internal security against dream invasion. The idea is it tell the mark it's a dream... and then convince the mark that you are part of their security. Cobb had Fischer convinced that Cobb wasn't real, but was part of his own mind. Therefore, Fischer was willing to do what Cobb said, and followed him with trust, rather than being suspicious of him.

You have to "fall asleep" in the dream to go in deeper to the next level. Falling asleep represents going deeper into your own mind and subconscious. They needed Fischer three levels deep for the idea they wanted to plant to take root in Fischer's deep subconscious, so he would perceive it as his own thought and not coming from outside.

Well, they started from Fischer Sr.'s death, yes, but the idea of Fischer's dad being disappointed with him was something I'm not sure they knew before they went in. I can't remember. I want to say they knew, and that's why Eames forged the lawyer guy as someone Fischer would trust. I would say that using Fischer Sr.'s disappointment against Fischer Jr. would have been part of the planning process.

Mal did not want to leave limbo, and that's why she hid her totem in her safe, yes, that's right. She was happy in limbo, she and Cobb had made a life there that was beyond what they could have led in the real world--she loved dreaming, and being able to build and influence the world around her. She did not want Cobb to leave, either, because she wanted them to stay together. It's not explained, but I imagine Mal wouldn't spin the real top in reality because 1) she was convinced she knew the truth already and 2) maybe she was also afraid of what the top would show her.

Also, with the ending of the movie, there's a lot of speculation in Inception fandom that it's possible Mal could have been right--that the world Cobb thinks is reality isn't, and that when she died falling from that building, she woke up in the true reality. It's only a theory, and I haven't seen any good explanations as for how that would work. But it's definitely one of the things Nolan wants us to think about with the end he gave us.
celestineangel: (Inception - Revolving Hallway)

[personal profile] celestineangel 2013-03-15 12:00 am (UTC)(link)
You're welcome. :)
cleo: A purple and green baby dragon from deamon diary (Default)

[personal profile] cleo 2013-02-01 10:57 pm (UTC)(link)
Re Inception: I liked it when I saw it. I was really preoccupied with the music but figured out what they were doing before it becomes obvious. But...that's just a result of my music major being a good party trick at this point in my life, lol. I only saw it once, and it's just not a movie I need to see again. I don't mean that in a bad way; it's just that it was entertaining, and I think seeing it again would just be frustrating.
weber_dubois22: (Autobot)

[personal profile] weber_dubois22 2013-02-02 02:26 am (UTC)(link)
There is a great deal about Inception that's restricted to Christopher Nolan's desires to constantly reference or lift some kind of aesthetic from the Michael Mann movie, Heat and Heist films in general. The suits, the thugs, the need to over complicate an otherwise simple idea, etc.. Cillian Murphy's three-level dream world is probably one of the biggest visual cue for Heat and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (the snow level). Now that you point it out, a lot of the things that happen in the movie follow the "horror movie" rule of thumb: people doing stupid things or being present in order for there to be a plot (Sato and Ellen Page). I do agree, that as a movie about dreams, there should've been a little more imagination in the dreams themselves, but we're talking about a man that doesn't like stray far from what he perceives as realism through a theatrical lens. While that's not a bad thing altogether, it's pretty limiting. He doesn't exactly give himself much leeyway for anything remotely fantastic (within the boundaries of his own rules) if he can't dip it in shadows and monotone dialog.

That said, I enjoyed the film myself the first couple times I watched it. The excessive exposition in repeated views past 2, however, hampers the enjoyment factor as I feel like I'm taking the same lecture class over and over again.
Edited 2013-02-02 02:27 (UTC)
muladhara: (astronomy)

[personal profile] muladhara 2013-02-02 10:54 pm (UTC)(link)
I like the soundtrack for the film better than the actual film. But I bought the DVD because stuff about dreams intrigues me. THAT SAID. I have not watched the film since I first saw it just over a year ago because it disappoints me (I find all Nolan's films do this to some degree. I've no desire to watch any of the Batman films any more, and I freaking love Batman).

I was sad that there weren't more levels to the dream worlds, to be honest. Wow, there's three levels and then you're in Limbo? Oh. OK then.

To be honest, I liked that there was no explanation of how entering dreams worked (but I'm a fan of the "it just works/happens" principal). Personally, I find my enjoyment to be ruined when a film/book/whatever tries to explain something fantastic, because ultimately they fail.

I don't think it's as clever as people think it is. I also don't understand was was so confusing about it (the cashier who dealt with me when I bought said she didn't understand it, and I'd already seen comments on the internet and I was kind of "...huh?", although I didn't actually say that to her, I just politely said, "It works better if you watch it twice").
muladhara: (wtf?)

[personal profile] muladhara 2013-03-13 08:57 pm (UTC)(link)
No, it wasn't well explained at all. I can't remember the bit you're talking about; I'll have to watch it again.

And it wasn't well executed, I agree. Although personally, I think trying to explain how dreams work is difficult, but I think it is difficult to get right because everyone has an idea of how dreams do or don't work? Does that even make sense? But no, the film's explanation basically boiled down to "Well, you can bend reality, but that's about it. Oh, and maybe plant ideas in people's heads". Not impressed with that, really.

Also, I don't think something it's super-clever if you don't understand it. Shouldn't it be the other way around? If you don't understand it, then maybe the movie was just... not very good.

Yup, pretty much. I've come to realise that about the Matrix sequels (which I love for their ridiculousness, but they are NOTHING compared to the original). There was a lot of the "you don't understand it!" "I didn't get what was going on!" after they came out. And I realised, after seeing them a million and one times (I wish I was kidding) that you know what? There's not anything to understand/not understand - they're trying to hard to be clever and ultimately failing. But Reloaded, at least, is good for a laugh and also the bike/car chase sequence.
muladhara: (writing)

[personal profile] muladhara 2013-03-16 08:05 pm (UTC)(link)
*nods* Yes. It would have been awesome. (On the subject of dreams, I don't know if you've ever read Sandman, but that gets more stuff right - then again, reading that depends on how you feel about comics??? If you can stick some of the more gruesome aspects of the story, it's definitely worth a read).

Ooh yes, I would like to read some stuff about Reloaded/Revolutions! I read a lot of stuff, and did a lot of digging myself at the time (so I know about the Christian/Hindu/etc connections in the story - but I think Reloaded certainly tried to put too much in one story, and it came off as clumsy to me - certainly if you're looking for references and stuff like that in the text). But I haven't read anything in years, so yes, links would be lovely! c:
muladhara: (Default)

[personal profile] muladhara 2013-03-27 08:23 pm (UTC)(link)
Well, Sandman is what got me reading comics more regularly ;) I just hope you enjoy it, although you're totally welcome where to stick it if it turns out to be not your thing!

Oooh, I bet I haven't read those. Or even if I have, I bet I've forgotten :D
bitchet: owl painting (♣ | starts so soft and sweet)

[personal profile] bitchet 2013-02-03 04:24 pm (UTC)(link)
I really liked Inception but it helped that I didn't think that deeply about any of it.
crossesandguns: cain with a syringe full of poison (Default)

[personal profile] crossesandguns 2013-02-04 04:24 am (UTC)(link)
I really liked Inception the first time I watched it. Tbh, I like films that don't give away much and let you work out your own mythology etc.

That thing about not killing Saito instead, I think it's because the drug they used (the one they got from the Indian doctor) to stabilize three levels of dreams was too strong; one of the side effects was you can't kill yourself to wake up, because you'll go straight to limbo or something.

I'm very interested in the concept of dreams as drugs, though! It was one of my favorite parts of that movie - that dream den reminiscent of an opium den, where you pay to live out your life in dreams because reality is too stale or too painful - I just think it's an interesting idea!

Agree on leaving Leo out of the mission. No point in endangering everyone with his killer wife issues D: