Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Inception; science-fiction action, USA, 2010; D: Christopher Nolan, S: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, Michael Caine, Lukas Haas, Pete Postlethwaite

Cobb and Arthur use a special device to transform themselves into someone's dream and steal an idea from him or her. Tycoon Saito hires them to do the opposite, implant an idea into Fischer, who inherited a large energy corporation, so that he will not continue with the policy of a monopoly. Cobb agrees and hires dream architect Ariadne, Eames and others. On a plane, they sedate Fischer, and implant a dream-within-a-dream, until they plant the idea and Cobb meets his deceased wife. In exchange, Saito stops an arrest warrant against Cobb, who returns to his kids.

Director Christopher Nolan used a great style to camouflage the basic, ludicrous plot, but overall, it is still ludicrous at its essence. A director can resort to the technique of transforming a story into a puzzle, but by cocooning one preposterous subplot into another, and then cocooning that preposterous subplot into yet another, and another, does not mean that those three ludicrous subplots equal a great story. However, one can forgive Nolan for "Inception" because time travelling and/or dreaming often proved to be a slippery rope for movies, who would often trip over their own feet due to huge inconsistencies resulting from thee. Some tried to find fault in character development or actors, but one has to be fair and say that the basic idea was simply bad: the hero, Cobb, steals ideas from people when they are sleeping? One just has to look at one dream report collected by scientist Calvin Hall, who wrote this about someone's dream: "I dreamt I was hungry and began to scratch my nose. All of a sudden a steak supper appeared in front of me. I ate this and after a while scrached my nose again. Suddenly I was dressed in the finest of clothes. I began to wonder if my nose were magic." This illustrates how pointless it is to steal someone's idea in a dream - because everything is distorted there. It would be as reliable as if Cobb and his team would go to get the guy's nose because it was magical in his dream. In one scene, Cobb also reads some documents in a dream. It is another misstep - because people cannot read in a dream.

The main plot, however, is even more insane than that: Cobb has to implant an idea into Mr. Fischer, so that he would not pursue the policy of monopoly from his deceased dad. In order to do that, Nolan resorted to a dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream. Leaving aside the inconvenience that implanting an idea to someone who is dreaming is entirely unreliable (because people sometimes do not even remember their dream), "Inception" contradicted itself again by sending the six protagonists into an action adventure while in a dream. It is simple: if they can use their machine to create a dream, why not make themselves into Supermen and thus invincible to shot guns? And then again, if they cannot do that, how come Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character can press a button and activate a bomb in that dream? Why would a bomb get activated in a dream? Why would they have guns in a dream? Why would there be any danger in a dream if they can create it? This demonstrates that "Inception" fell into a catch 22 - it cannot apply logic to a dream and be illogical at the same time. If you fancy a van falling from a bridge for 30 minutes (!), Joseph Gordon-Levitt floating and tumbling around a hotel lobby collecting floating people for 30 minutes and the rest of the team attacking a snow fortress James Bond style because they forgot to create a pleasant and warm beach instead, you will probably find some sense in this, while the rest will perceive a huge plot gimmick and even predict the "plot twist" already somewhere near the start. If you want a real feeling of a lucid dream - because this is too neat to be a dream - watch Ruben's "Dreamscape", because despite its flaws and lack of a huge budget, it was plausible. If you want a philosophical movie about the nature of reality and possibility of an alternate world, watch "The Matrix", or even better "The Truman Show", that said so much about life in such a harmonius way.



Hans Gvatemala said...

You Sir, are a moron and should not review movies

Marin Mandir said...

Well, what can I say? Sorry for being honest. I have seen all of Nolan's films - and this was the first and only one I did not like. Though I think Nolan will forgive me, since I appreaciate him and understand that even great directors can make a false step once in a decade.

I simply think the idea was impossible to work. And so it was. You can not read in a dream. And don't give me that stuff that you can shoot in a dream with a dream gun since action sequences or suspense are not suitable for a dream. You can fly, you can be invincible, so basically a dream is a wrong place for such things. Well, at least I get to see Tom Hardy in a good role. Anyway, Hans, chill out. You should not review reviews so harshly. I know I'm in a minority on this, but what can you do?

Hans Gvatemala said...

Well... As a "movie critic" you should be (and I hope you are) aware that Inception is a science fiction film.
Or, I can even simplify it for you. Film, in essence, is a work of an author (director, writer or whatever you like to call it).
You cant read in a dream, but if look at Inception as a reality or universe created by Nolan you can easily argue that certain rules apply, and these rules are not necessarily the rules of everyday world - or they are not at all. I have yet to see a full scientific report of somebody with the ability to sneak inside dreams of others.
If you use an argument that something is "unrealistic", we could dismiss a lot of film categories which is, to be quite hones, incredibly moronic.
Your arguments are invalid, as is your whole point of view towards inception.

P.S. you have right to give your purely subjective view of a film. Too bad its completely wrong.

Marin Mandir said...

I can see what you are getting at. Science-fiction as such is not your run-off-the-mill reality world - but then it has to say so at some point in the story. I never got the impression that Inception is set in an alternate reality world where people can read in a dream. All I got was that it was set in our world, just in the future. One can speculate that the device somehow made it possible to read in a dream - but then they should have said so. Otherwise, we are all just speculating. However, even if you could read in a dream, you would just get a lot of unconnected texts since everything is distorted there.

But a setting is not the only feature of a movie. Cameron's Aliens and Fincher's Alien 3 are set in the same universe - except that the first one is great, and the second one isn't. Believe it or not, but even fantasy and science-fiction movies can be realistic or unrealistic. Inception sets up a premise - they can create/design a dream. OK. To such an extent that they can even design weapons in it. OK. Question: BUT if you could create/design your very own world, why would you need weapons? Why not create a dream where you are invincible? Or a dream where weapons don't work? Wouldn't that make their job so much more easier? I still haven't heard a realiable explanation for such an inconsistency.

That's the problem. Inception sets up a premise - and then violates it itself. Either they can design a dream or they cannot. If there was a rival group that tried to interfere with them and two designed dreams collided, maybe it would have worked. However, that wouldn't work either, since Fischer would then knew it was an implanted idea. Nolan is a director on the rise. A director with huge potentials. He already achieved a lot. He will win a Golden Globe and an Oscar one day. But this film was full of plot holes and even he couldn't save it. It's OK. Anyone makes mistakes. It's no big deal if it is followed by great movies.