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Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Inception: Afterthoughts (Text)

I was debating putting the title over the Inception poster, but apparently some other Douchebags have already named their show "Afterthoughts", and have already reviewed inception. WANKERS! Still, here's a link if you're interested (we critics have to look out for one another).

As you may have been able to tell, I bashed out my Inception review pretty quickly after returning from the cinema, to get it online as fast as I could. Of course, since it was around 2:30AM by the time I finished writing it, this meant I was completely knackered for almost the entire period I was writing, having gotten up early that morning to go to the gym (whilst I’m at it, I wish to correct a mistake from my review – I stated that I was seated next to a 20 stone powerlifter in the cinema. This is false – he is a 20 stone strong man), and so I felt there were a couple of things I missed out of my review which I would actually quite like to discuss. Here they are:

Whilst I briefly mentioned that the special effects in the movie were fairly well done, I would like to refer to just 2 of them a little more specifically, because I really enjoyed these. The first real “wow” moment of the movie, for me, came when we first saw Leonardo DiCaprio being awoken from a dream via “dunking”. We see Leo in the dream, avoiding falling rubble as the dream collapses around him, and then cut to outside, in the real world (or, as it actually is, a shallower level of the dream), where Leo’s team decide to wake him. Leo does not respond to just noise, or slapping or shaking, so they tip him backwards into a bathtub full of water which was in place specially for this purpose. As Leo falls back into the bathtub, the footage from the first level of the dream slows right down, as time appears to move faster the deeper into the subconscious we go, and this shot is intercut with the dream sequence collapsing as water rushes in from every angle and a tidal wave crashes over our star. This was the first example of any kind of “kick” used in the film, and also introduced us both to the time differences between levels, and also the idea that outside actions will effect what’s happening in a dream, and it really helped set the tone for the entire film. As I said, watching Ellen Page being “kicked” through all 4 levels of dream and into real life near the end is definitely the best effect of this nature within the movie, but that first one just set everything up so perfectly, and was so well executed, that for me it was the point where I thought “hey, this could actually be really good. Except the ending will be shite”.

Another thing I liked was the way in which Leo’s partner from the start is not simply killed off early on, as I was expecting, to be replaced by Ellen Page, but rather everyone joins together as a team, and are all involved in some way in the plan coming together; no one is just a token character, they all have a reason for being there. I was pleased with this because the trailers made it look as though the entire film was just Leo and Page going into people’s dreams, and I think the way the characters were all cleverly intertwined and reliant on each other was a great improvement on what I had been expecting.

Another thing I liked was when Leo’s partner from the start of the film (who was ridiculously familiar, but whose name I can’t be bothered to find on IMDB, despite the fact it would probably have been quicker to do so than typing this explanatory statement) walks up the walls and onto the ceiling in zero gravity whilst the camera rotates around him; not because the effect is so incredibly well done (though it is fairly good), but because it was such a good homage to one of the greatest effects shots in cinema history; the shot from “2001: A Space Odyssey” where we see one of the astronauts do the exact same thing. Oh, and because it spawned this picture:

Which is, of course, an homage to this picture.

I also felt that I should maybe go into slightly more depth with regards to the whole reality/dreams thing at the end. Some people will no doubt say that it was all a dream in Leo’s head, and that he was just a business man who fell asleep on a plane and dreamt about the people around him being able to travel into dreams. Whilst no-one speaks to him on the plane at the end, making this theoretically a possibility, I highly doubt they would give him such potent looks if he were just some guy they were on the plane with who fell asleep for the entire journey, so I think a lot of the film was meant to be “reality”, with only the very end possibly being limbo. However, it does occur to me that Leo may have created this entire scenario, as his wife suggests, in Limbo, and that nothing in the film actually happens, but is all in his subconscious. Of course, this would mean having to discard the totem spinning at the end as being relevant, as we see it stop a couple of times during the film when he tries it in “the real world”, and so there is no evidence to back up this theory, as we cannot even say he is dreaming at the very end. However, because he finds his wife’s totem in limbo, it is possible that he just imagined the totem, so the totem will stop in the levels his mind believes to be real, and not in the ones his mind believes to be fake; and does not actually truly signify if he is awake or not. The totem spinning at the end, therefore, could be a signal that he has finally accepted his entire reality is a dream, and that he is ready to wake up. Under closer inspection, this answer also makes sense, because when he wants to escape limbo with his wife, they just kill themselves and it magically works, but when Ellen Page is in limbo, she doesn’t just kill herself to wake up, but goes through all the pain of having to get the kicks just right to return. If you returned to reality just by killing yourself when in limbo, there would have been no reason for them to ever be scared of dying in a dream and going to limbo, because they would know it was easy to wake up again. I therefore feel, with this in mind, that there is a strong possibility that it was all created in Leo’s mind whilst in limbo, and that he will eventually wake up next to his wife in the bedroom where they were testing to see how deep they could go. Whether or not this is what Nolan intended, I do not know, but even if it wasn’t, I like the interpretation I previously suggested as well. Either way, I feel this is one of those endings people will be talking about for a long time, and I think Nolan has outdone himself, for once, in making a twist ending that is actually intelligent and that actually makes sense.

I do just have one minor problem with it, however, in that surely it doesn’t matter whether it is real or not, because eventually Leo is going to wake up, regardless of how deep into his subconscious he has gone, and it will be as though nothing has happened. If he was in limbo the whole time, he will wake up with his wife and kids, and if it was mostly reality, he will eventually wake up on the plane, as a literal interpretation of the events depicted will suggest. Sure, it will feel like 80 years or whatever when he’s down there, but once he has awoken, the amount of relative time spent in limbo will become nothing. As long as his brain isn’t fried, as they suggested could happen if one went into limbo, then as soon as he wakes up, Leo should be fine. The question of whether or not the events are real, therefore, is moot; because whatever happens, he will eventually wake up (or possibly already did at the end). The only real fun is in deciding whether or not the events were “real”, so to speak. Also, if you could live a lifetime in 10 hours of actual time, surely that would be a good thing to experience? At both the start and end, we see Leo and Ken Watanabee in limbo, with Watanabee’s guards surrounding them. If you can imagine people and create them in limbo, surely a whole world can be imagined (as I have just suggested, and as Leo’s wife suggests within the film), and therefore why would losing your mind become a problem? Just a thought, but I think in some ways this movie raises a lot of philosophical questions about the importance of reality. Why wake up if you can create a perfect world that will last forever in your mind? Jesus, that’s almost as deep as the questions raised by the Stretch Armstrong movie.

So, there you have it, a couple of additions to yesterday’s review, just to augment it a little. I think this was a very enjoyable movie, and I certainly recommend it. I hope you have enjoyed reading my 3 part discussion of “Inception”, and if not you can bugger off. Cheers!


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