Conception

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Lithium33
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Conception

Postby Lithium33 » Tue Jun 29, 2010 5:58 am UTC

New Christopher Nolan movie with Leo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, and others.

It looks AMAZING, and it comes out July 16.

http://www.traileraddict.com/trailer/in ... al-trailer
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Re: Inception

Postby Zohar » Tue Jun 29, 2010 6:14 am UTC

Looks interesting. Probably a lot of mindfucks will go on. Reminds me of Paprika a little bit, I bet he saw the movie.
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Re: Inception

Postby Glmclain » Tue Jun 29, 2010 7:21 am UTC

I am so goddamn excited for this movie. Nobody else seems to get it though.

Supposedly it's very complex and not a lot of people will "get it."

I love it.
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Re: Inception

Postby Jesse » Tue Jun 29, 2010 10:31 am UTC

I cannot wait for this, I love Nolan and Ellen Page and DiCaprio and this film is going to be the best thing of this year.

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Re: Inception

Postby Adacore » Tue Jun 29, 2010 12:57 pm UTC

The trailer certainly looked very interesting (and cool). I'll reserve judgement until I see a few reviews, though. I love complex movie plots, so long as they're interesting enough to put the effort into understanding.

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Re: Inception

Postby CosmicFugue » Fri Jul 02, 2010 3:06 am UTC

I got a Dark City vibe from the trailer that I watched a couple of months ago and trailer #3 really got me excited for this. Can't wait!

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Re: Inception

Postby novax6 » Fri Jul 02, 2010 11:09 am UTC

It's a non-batman Christopher Nolan movie. I'm 99% sure it will be fantastic, especially with that great cast. Can't wait.

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Re: Inception

Postby Jesse » Fri Jul 02, 2010 11:45 am UTC

novax6 wrote:It's a Christopher Nolan movie. I'm 100% sure it will be fantastic. Can't wait.


Went ahead and fixed that for you.

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Re: Inception

Postby novax6 » Fri Jul 02, 2010 11:53 am UTC

Jesse wrote:
novax6 wrote:It's a Christopher Nolan movie. I'm 100% sure it will be fantastic. Can't wait.


Went ahead and fixed that for you.


Well I wasn't trying to say that his Batman movies aren't good, I like them, but I think his originally written stuff is better.

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Re: Inception

Postby grythyttan » Tue Jul 06, 2010 9:07 am UTC

CosmicFugue wrote:I got a Dark City vibe from the trailer that I watched a couple of months ago and trailer #3 really got me excited for this. Can't wait!
A friend tried to describe that trailer to me, but he couldn't remember the title. By the description I immediately went "oh that's dark city" and he said it was a new movie, which caused me a great deal of confusion.
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Re: Inception

Postby thatguy » Tue Jul 06, 2010 4:29 pm UTC

Apparently the Rolling Stone review got leaked onto the webs, and it contained the phrase (or something close to it) "too smart to make money" which excites the pretentious side of me a lot.

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Re: Inception

Postby Xeio » Tue Jul 06, 2010 6:00 pm UTC

thatguy wrote:Apparently the Rolling Stone review got leaked onto the webs, and it contained the phrase (or something close to it) "too smart to make money" which excites the pretentious side of me a lot.
I love this forum in that "too smart to make money" is a phrase which causes people to become excited.

I'm excited, by the way. :roll:

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Re: Inception

Postby mutestorm » Wed Jul 07, 2010 4:27 pm UTC

I'm gonna go ahead and bump this with another useless comment about how excited I am by this movie.

...

(ironyyyy)

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Re: Inception

Postby Various Varieties » Thu Jul 08, 2010 2:40 am UTC

It's getting some astonishingly positive reviews so far. :mrgreen: Including one from Devin at CHUD:
The simplistic comparison is to The Matrix, but I think it's also the best - no action scene in a mainstream movie has been so incredibly realized, so elegantly staged and remained so viscerally exciting since the Bros Wachowski shook up the world of action movies.

<snip>

What's perhaps best about Inception is that it's not a trick film. A smart, aware viewer will find most of the movie's answers given to them in the very opening scene. Nolan's not trying to hide anything or pull any twists, and he's more interested in paying off emotional beats than pulling the rug out on viewers at the end. Memento works despite being a puzzle movie, but The Prestige is fatally crippled by being a one and done fluff experience. Nolan wisely avoids that here; a lesser director might have tried to twisterooni his film to death, but Nolan knows that we're going to be looking everywhere for clues and meanings, and he's happy to deliver them.

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Re: Inception

Postby Glmclain » Thu Jul 08, 2010 5:16 am UTC

As a regular CHUD.com reader I was meaning to post that.

At any rate I'm still freaking excited as shit.


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Re: Inception

Postby Various Varieties » Thu Jul 08, 2010 6:08 pm UTC

Empire's Inception review does a great job at conveying the reviewer's awe at the film, but it ain't exactly brilliantly written: in rying to cram at least one flowery turn of phrase into every sentence, the overall review ends up sounding really awkward. They've done this before. To Empire reviewers who aren't Kim Newman: you're not Sight & Sound, so stop trying to write reviews in the style that people who don't read Sight & Sound think Sight and Sound uses. :roll:

But as I said, it does make it clear how awestruck the reviewer was. There's one comparison they make that really stands out: "It feels like Stanley Kubrick adapting the work of William Gibson." Which really does make this movie sound like the best thing ever. :mrgreen:

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Re: Inception

Postby Adacore » Fri Jul 09, 2010 12:09 am UTC

Everything I've read about this so far has been absolutely exuberantly gushing with praise. The parallels and references reviewers are making is getting me really, really excited - if the reviews are to be believed this could be the best film of the decade.

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Re: Inception

Postby Glmclain » Wed Jul 14, 2010 4:15 am UTC

2 Days! 2 Days! 2 Days!
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Re: Inception

Postby bigglesworth » Thu Jul 15, 2010 12:01 am UTC

Just saw this this evening, it's very good. DiCaprio isn't the best bit, it's the other characters that made it worthwhile for me. DiCaprio is still good enough though.

The set-pieces are amazing, and basically... it's a more intelligent version of the Matrix crossed with a certain episode of Dr Who.
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Re: Inception

Postby Glmclain » Thu Jul 15, 2010 1:29 am UTC

bigglesworth wrote: it's a more intelligent version of the Matrix crossed with a certain episode of Dr Who.


Holy shit just when I thought I couldn't be more excited.
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Re: Inception

Postby dardarness » Thu Jul 15, 2010 4:49 am UTC

Have you guys read Inception: The Cobol Job? It's the prologue comic and it's very interesting. Kinda confusing at first but I guess (and hope) that it would provide very good intel for the movie.

Will be watching the movie tomorrow and I'm stoked! :D

Here's a snippet:
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Re: Inception

Postby Glmclain » Fri Jul 16, 2010 6:57 pm UTC

5 Hours! Will post thoughts when done!
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Re: Inception

Postby Midnight » Fri Jul 16, 2010 8:23 pm UTC

Oh.

So.

Good.

I mean some people thought it was too convoluted but I didn't have a problem. Maybe cause I've read Grant Morrison's "The Invisibles" which has similar concepts about the nature of ideas and stuff.



But yeah, 9.5/10. A few minor things put me off from a 10.
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Re: Inception

Postby rheakith » Fri Jul 16, 2010 11:53 pm UTC

Just saw this today and thought it was amazing. Really well done, very very deep (not necessarily in meaning, but overall as a movie). One thing that I noticed though was that
Spoiler:
Ariadne's totem was never brought up again after she made it. Not a huge problem, since no one but Cobb ever used theirs, just something that they could have used at some point.
Also, with the ending:
Spoiler:
Any ideas whether it stopped or not? I doubt there will be a sequel or anything, and that it was just intended to make the audience think, but it could be interesting either way.

Also, how did Cobb get back all the way from the bottom level to reality without any kicks? All of the preplanned, even the last couple, would have already happened, so once he got out of the last one, they would have been in the blown up snow base thing and then in the hotel with no gravity, then the van on the bottom of the river, unless I missed something.

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Re: Inception

Postby Malice » Sat Jul 17, 2010 2:43 am UTC

Warning: ranting and spoilers ahead.

I enjoyed the movie, but I was frustrated that it seemed to be missing a lot of what makes me enjoy and rewatch Christopher Nolan's movies.

For example, Nolan's movies usually have very distinctive scenes. Something about the way they're written, shot, directed, performed, and edited ends up putting an enjoyable nuance on even the most prosaic moments. Clever dialog, good actors, and a strong sense of pace pulls me through any particular scene. Some of them are so unique, so ever-so-slightly-turned, that they get printed indelibly on my brain. The way Guy Pearce in Memento holds his head cocked half to the side as he says sadly, "It's like waking. It's like you just woke up." The way Cillian Murphy looks upwards as the camera spins around him in Batman Begins, telling his thugs (and himself), "Well, we'll see... won't we?" The particular dry, uber-understated way that Nolan's father delivers the line "One or two" at the end of Following. I could keep going, but the idea is that Nolan's movies tend to have a texture to them, an attention to creatively-envisioned detail. It's the kind of thing that comes of shooting your own second-unit work, and from hiring the best actors in the business, and from rewriting your script until every page is gleaming.

It's what keeps his exposition from getting heavy, and his thematic pronouncements from getting dull; it's what provides the character development, and, once everybody has a character, provides the world. And on a more prosaic level, it makes his action scenes not only new and exciting but worth watching again and again.

Inception is missing all of that, and I felt its loss terribly.

Most of the beginning falls into the trap of telling, instead of showing. And telling, and telling, and telling, until everything's been repeated six times. I get it, this is a complicated premise that requires the audience to understand it backwards and forwards; but the way to do that is to dramatize it. An interesting, clever, or exciting bit of exposition is more memorable, and more comprehensible, because it's visceral instead of cerebral. The opening scenes are some of the best in the film, and they get it entirely right. When the film intercuts Cobb falling into a bathtub with Dream-Cobb seeing gouts of water flooding the dream, we understand on a gut level that the circumstances of the dreamer's body are recreated--in a surreal or symbolic fashion--in the dream itself. And yet apparently we have to be told this information again.

The problem with not dramatizing your exposition, besides actually making it more confusing for the audience, is that you lose all that drama! Remember in the Prestige how the two rival magicians are introduced, and the groundwork laid for their disastrous trick? It's all exposition, from what kind of knots they use to how the characters relate to one another; but because it's presented as a dramatic scene (two young performers argue, an older man tries to mentor them), it's interesting, memorable, and builds character.

Character--the other big thing this movie was missing (largely because, as I said, there was about an hour of exposition that did nothing for nobody). I didn't really care about anybody in this movie, because I didn't know anything about them, and they never did anything that revealed themselves to be anything but generic. There were so many squandered opportunities. Everybody got along so damn well. How do you have two partners, one of them impulsive, one of them incredibly straight-laced (to the point where his only two lines of dialog are, repeatedly, "That won't work" or "That's not how it works"), and yet they never argue meaningfully about anything? How do you fuck up an Ocean's 11 sequence where you round up a gang? It's not friggin' hard. You need so many people to steal this whatever, cue scenes around the world where the main character argues or pleads or convinces them to join up, thus building characters and their relationships to the ringleader. And yet, every single person they came to said, "Whatever, sure." The shapeshifter is like, "That's really hard... eh, whatever." The chemist is like, "I don't go into the field!" and Cobb is like "yes you will" and he's like "eh... whatever, sure." We never saw Ariadne make the decision she made--never saw her hanging out on a balcony going, "Man, I miss dreams, life is so boring"--she just walks back into the warehouse and tells us about it. We never get the sense that any of them struggle with the decision to do something which we're told is illegal, considered impossible, certainly unethical, and possibly dangerous. And so on, and so forth. The characters are bland, barely even types (the serious one, the caring one, the 'funny' one), despite being cast with the some of the best actors around. The script just gives them nothing at all to work with.

My other major complaint is that, despite the effects, most of the action feels very generic too. It got worse at it went on, until at one point a character I didn't care about was being chased by people who weren't characters on snow-mobiles in pursuit of something unclear, 3 layers removed from anything that actually mattered (to the extent that Cobb and his wife did). The emotional equivalent of a picture of a polar bear in a blizzard. Particularly the third dream layer, but also the never-ending car chase and the (while cool) zero gravity fistfights with generic guards that went on for way too long.

So while the ideas were cool and the world was excellent and there were some moments that affected me, I felt like they were put in service of boring things happening to boring people. (And for boring reasons, too, given how repetitive the themes were and how much they were spelled out literally in cliches.)

I believe I understand why they did it this way, at least to a certain extent; because the real world, where all these characters come from, must match the dream world. The thugs must be as generic, the corporate villains as faceless, the supporting people as limited and lifeless, and so on. Inception is either the product of an unimaginative screenwriter or the product of an unimaginative character's subconscious.

I fully believe that the movie is not ambiguous on this point, due to a crucial plot hole too massive to be pure chance. Explanations behind the spoiler tag:

Spoiler:
The audience is told how this process works:
1. When dreaming in multiple layers, dreams become unstable; only a deep sedative will allow it.
2. When under such a sedative, you can no longer wake yourself up by dying.
3. Instead, dying will send you lower, not higher, into a subconscious mish-mash (the ocean and the city beyond).
4. Time spent in each layer increases exponentially. The figures they give are 10 hours (real world) = 1 week (-1) = 6 months (-2) = 10 years (-3).

Then, in various pieces, we are told about two experiences.

In one, the main story of the film, Cobb and his crew enter the mind of Robert Fisher. They craft three dreams, sedate themselves, and go down three layers. At this point, if they die, they will go deeper into another dream-layer, Limbo, where hours in the real world may equal decades or even centuries of perceived time. We see this very thing happen to Saito, who dies, enters Limbo, and grows old there, before Cobb finds him and draws him back.

In the other experience, Cobb and his wife enter a shared dream-space in the same way. (We're not told whose mind they're in.) Somehow (this isn't explained either), they end up in Limbo. We know that Cobb and his wife spent about 50 years there, in perceived time. This means they must have been several layers down, and that means they were sedated. And sedated people cannot wake themselves up by killing themselves. Thus, the way out of Limbo cannot, as Cobb believes, be suicide.

So what happened when Cobb and his wife put their head on the train tracks and let themselves be killed? They do not appear to be in Limbo, and according to the rules, you can't go up via suicide (if you could, why would everybody be afraid of dying during the Fisher job?). They must have gone down into a deeper dream. And it is that dream--a vast dream in which Cobb is chased around the globe by faceless corporations and anonymous thugs, a dream in which he puts together the Fisher job in his search for reconciliation and redemption and catharsis--that we, the audience, have seen.


My issue is with the seemingly deliberate choice on the part of the writer to conform "reality" to the same blank, generic standard as the dream world, including the characters we meet there. And my problem is that that explains my issues with the film without excusing them. Because in the end, it should still be entertaining, and a fair portion of this film just isn't. I always wanted to know what would happen next, but I rarely enjoyed what was happening at that moment.

Inception is worth seeing once, if only for its often stunning visuals and the sheer brilliance of its premise and rules, but unlike every other Nolan film, it's probably not worth watching again. So, sadface.

Keep in mind I am holding Nolan to his standard; he makes (or made) nothing but masterpieces. For everybody else, this is really quite good.
Last edited by Malice on Sat Jul 17, 2010 4:00 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Inception

Postby helo darqness » Sat Jul 17, 2010 3:40 am UTC

rheakith wrote:Just saw this today and thought it was amazing. Really well done, very very deep (not necessarily in meaning, but overall as a movie). One thing that I noticed though was that
Spoiler:
Ariadne's totem was never brought up again after she made it. Not a huge problem, since no one but Cobb ever used theirs, just something that they could have used at some point.
Also, with the ending:
Spoiler:
Any ideas whether it stopped or not? I doubt there will be a sequel or anything, and that it was just intended to make the audience think, but it could be interesting either way.

Also, how did Cobb get back all the way from the bottom level to reality without any kicks? All of the preplanned, even the last couple, would have already happened, so once he got out of the last one, they would have been in the blown up snow base thing and then in the hotel with no gravity, then the van on the bottom of the river, unless I missed something.



Re the ending....I read this, and it seemed to cap things off...sadly. Their thing makes sense, and I like the ambiguity, but its pretty logical.

If you can say anything that counters this to make it ambigious again, lemme lnow:


http://www.cinemablend.com/new/Inceptio ... 19615.html

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Re: Inception

Postby Smiling Hobo » Sat Jul 17, 2010 3:54 am UTC

It was very good. As weird as it was, though, I think that it could have done more with the concept. The movie tickled your brain, but did not bend and warp your mind like it could have--the real world and dream world are too similar. It's not a classic work of cinematic artistry in my eyes for this reason, and I think the comparisons to Kubrick are not quite warranted. The characters were also kind of flat. Still, it is a very good heist film with an interesting twist. At least it makes you think, unlike most action films today. 8.5-9/10.

As for the ending...

Spoiler:
Thinking out loud: I think Malice is on the right track. The film is kind of ambiguous as to what happens if you die in limbo. It wouldn't make sense if you could just escape by killing yourself, though, since then there would be no reason to dread being sent to limbo or to spend decades there; you could get out almost immediately by killing yourself. But then, if dying in limbo doesn't free you, what does it do? Send you deeper? That seems to be the only option...but then, there's so many other consequences of that. That means Cobb is in limbo beneath limbo beneath limbo, down like five or more layers on top of that by the end of the film, and Saito is in limbo beneath limbo, with three levels on top of that. Actually, Saito isn't even real, if that's the case. Bleh.
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Re: Inception

Postby the_phoenix612 » Sat Jul 17, 2010 4:51 am UTC

rheakith wrote:Just saw this today and thought it was amazing. Really well done, very very deep (not necessarily in meaning, but overall as a movie). One thing that I noticed though was that
Spoiler:
Ariadne's totem was never brought up again after she made it. Not a huge problem, since no one but Cobb ever used theirs, just something that they could have used at some point.
Also, with the ending:
Spoiler:
Any ideas whether it stopped or not? I doubt there will be a sequel or anything, and that it was just intended to make the audience think, but it could be interesting either way.

Also, how did Cobb get back all the way from the bottom level to reality without any kicks? All of the preplanned, even the last couple, would have already happened, so once he got out of the last one, they would have been in the blown up snow base thing and then in the hotel with no gravity, then the van on the bottom of the river, unless I missed something.

My theory is that it didn't. I think the obviousness of the symbolism behind Ariadne's name meant she HAD to be a projection, and thus part of the dream. Also, the children's ages, as noted in the article posted by helo darqness lend themselves to my theory. I think the whole thing was the grandfather (Michael Caine)'s dream.
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Re: Inception

Postby Krong » Sat Jul 17, 2010 5:20 am UTC

Definitely a good movie, and those of you reading this thread who haven't seen it should go for it, but Malice's post is pretty much spot on, IMO. The reviews calling it a masterpiece and an instant classic are wrong; I think the critics want it to be better than it is, since it is a great movie that tries to buck the dumb summer blockbuster trend.

I think the root of the issue, though, is that it's still a summer blockbuster, and it still tries to be all things to all people. Lots of people -- maybe even most people -- who see it will find it mind-blowing. But if you're reading this, you've probably had exposure to the central idea of the movie in several places already. (The Matrix connections are obvious, eXistenZ and the Star Trek TNG Episode "Ship in a Bottle" came to my mind, and some of the mechanics of the heist plot reminded me of the video games Chronotron and Braid. I'm sure there's plenty more examples.)

So if you've got the basic idea down already, you'll probably be disappointed that they keep explaining it to you. Or that they hop around between action scenes so frequently when some of them are stretched out and relatively unimportant to the point of the movie (*cough* floating elevator scene *cough*) just so that you don't get lost.

The more of a nerd* you are, the less there is in this movie that's excitingly new, but it's still a fun movie.


*If you're a movie nerd, there might be a lot to like, actually. There are plenty of references / homages to various films embedded in this which might be fun to pull out and analyze. But I'm not much of a movie nerd, so I only caught a few of the most obvious ones.
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Re: Inception

Postby Malice » Sat Jul 17, 2010 6:07 am UTC

helo darqness wrote:If you can say anything that counters this to make it ambigious again, lemme lnow:
http://www.cinemablend.com/new/Inceptio ... 19615.html


On the question of, "Does dying send you up or down from Limbo?", they say "Up, because Cobb says so," and I say, "Down, because if Cobb was mistaken, 'reality' would be just another dream state and all this stuff would make more sense."

Of course, if it's all a dream state, none of it is trustworthy and consistency can go hang itself.
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Re: Inception

Postby Midnight » Sat Jul 17, 2010 7:39 pm UTC

Spoiler:
but how would he have created people like the chemist and ariadne, people he'd never met before? he said that you can only create faces and people that you've known in real life (which is actually true--every face in your dream is a face you've seen before).
I mean, I dunno. I didn't realize that there were any layers BELOW limbo. so I feel like he got up and out. cause he got out from saito shooting him and then himself. Furthermore, they said "They don't know what happens" when you kill yourself in limbo. but Leonardo's been there before, and killed himself on the train tracks, and got out. So I feel like "THEY" don't know, but HE knows that you can actually just get out.
or something?

i dunno.

but the whole established rules of layers-of-dreaming are totally violated if the uppermost layer was also a dream, and they were at least 3 layers below limbo.
uhhhh fuck.

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Re: Inception

Postby setzer777 » Sat Jul 17, 2010 9:31 pm UTC

I agree with comments above about exposition. I also feel like they could have cut the "fight against generic thugs" scenes by about 30 minutes and it would have been a substantial improvement. I find fight scenes far more enjoyable if you have feelings towards both combatants, and this movie had the least interesting opponents ever. Even if the action scenes were as good as the Matrix (I don't think they are), even the Matrix had many of the fights against interesting opponents (Morpheus, Agent Smith). They should have cut out most of the generic goons and had far more opposition from
Spoiler:
Mal
, who made a vastly more interesting antagonist.

Also, even though all of the supporting characters seemed shallow, I really liked Saito for some reason.

Regarding the discussion above:

Spoiler:
It does seem plausible that killing yourself in Limbo wakes you up (or maybe puts you in dreamless sleep until you do wake up). As Midnight said, most just don't know what happens if you die in Limbo (this fits in with the "I am waiting for a train, but I do not know where it will take me" line, Cobb wasn't sure what suicide would do). It also seems like being Limbo makes it more difficult to distinguish the dream from reality, so that could be part of what keeps people in it for so long.
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Re: Inception

Postby Malice » Sat Jul 17, 2010 11:35 pm UTC

setzer777 wrote: I find fight scenes far more enjoyable if you have feelings towards both combatants, and this movie had the least interesting opponents ever. Even if the action scenes were as good as the Matrix (I don't think they are), even the Matrix had many of the fights against interesting opponents (Morpheus, Agent Smith). They should have cut out most of the generic goons and had far more opposition from
Spoiler:
Mal
, who made a vastly more interesting antagonist.


That is an excellent point. I agree wholeheartedly.

Regarding the discussion above:

Spoiler:
It does seem plausible that killing yourself in Limbo wakes you up (or maybe puts you in dreamless sleep until you do wake up). As Midnight said, most just don't know what happens if you die in Limbo (this fits in with the "I am waiting for a train, but I do not know where it will take me" line, Cobb wasn't sure what suicide would do). It also seems like being Limbo makes it more difficult to distinguish the dream from reality, so that could be part of what keeps people in it for so long.


I suppose this is a possibility. I feel like I would need to watch the movie again in order to really know.
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Re: Inception

Postby monicaclaire » Sat Jul 17, 2010 11:48 pm UTC

Spoiler:
I just saw the movie. When Arthur said how to make them fall without gravity I immediatly thought PERCIEVED GRAVITY!...blow up the lower portion of the hotel with your bombs creating an acceleraton down of the building....his application was a little more pratical. hehehe.

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Re: Inception

Postby Robocop » Sun Jul 18, 2010 1:20 am UTC

Krong wrote:Star Trek TNG Episode "Ship in a Bottle" came to my mind


TNG came to mind for me as well. Except for me the episode was "The Inner Light".

I almost forgot the parallels between Inception and the DS9 episodes "Inquisition" and "Extreme Measures"!

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Re: Inception

Postby Bakemaster » Sun Jul 18, 2010 4:26 am UTC

Needless to say, the spoiler contains spoilers - first some thoughts in response to others and then a description of the twist I expected that never came.
Spoiler:
Malice wrote:The audience is told how this process works:
1. When dreaming in multiple layers, dreams become unstable; only a deep sedative will allow it.
2. When under such a sedative, you can no longer wake yourself up by dying.
3. Instead, dying will send you lower, not higher, into a subconscious mish-mash (the ocean and the city beyond).
4. Time spent in each layer increases exponentially. The figures they give are 10 hours (real world) = 1 week (-1) = 6 months (-2) = 10 years (-3).
<snip>
In the other experience, Cobb and his wife enter a shared dream-space in the same way. (We're not told whose mind they're in.) Somehow (this isn't explained either), they end up in Limbo. We know that Cobb and his wife spent about 50 years there, in perceived time. This means they must have been several layers down, and that means they were sedated. And sedated people cannot wake themselves up by killing themselves. Thus, the way out of Limbo cannot, as Cobb believes, be suicide.

I think you've mistaken the first part of the process. The more layers, the more unstable a dream, yes. An unstable dream collapses quickly, and therefore a sedative is required, not to attain the third layer, but to maintain it for a usable amount of time during a heist. This chemist, we are told, mixes his own stuff; it's strongly implied that this is new and unexpected. The chemist then reveals his technique, which includes the sedative; he demonstrates it to Cobb and company as though they've never seen it before. It's implied that the chemist informed Cobb about the consequences of dying while under sedative. It's reasonable to infer from all this that, whether Cobb and his wife used a weaker sedative than the chemist's, or no sedative at all, they reached "limbo" in some other fashion than dying while sedated, and were thus able to wake themselves via suicide.

I'm not saying this is the answer; obviously it's far from explicit in the film, and so we just have various hypotheses. I also thought that perhaps the key to escaping limbo has less to do with an automatic mental/physiological response to the shock of death, than it does the acceptance of the fact that you're in limbo and a conscious act of rejection. There are plenty more possibilities.

My bigger problem with the film has to do more with the nature of limbo itself; where did Cobb and Ariadne go from the hospital, when they went "a level deeper"? If Fisher had gone to limbo, they would need to go to limbo to retrieve him, would they not? But they hook themselves up to the machine, meaning they go into someone's dream. Yet, they are in limbo. And Saito is nowhere to be seen. Cobb seems to make some sort of transition between the realm from which Fisher was rescued, and the realm in which we ultimately find Saito, though both realms begin with the same ocean, suggesting they are both limbo. Two different limbos? Iterations of the same limbo? There are a lot of unanswered questions regarding limbo in general; I feel like it was held over the film as a bogeyman without enough care taken to fit it smoothly into the world of the film, because the mere failure of the heist wasn't enough of a bogeyman for dramatic purposes. It made me wonder what ended up on the cutting room floor, and might be included in the eventual DVD release in the form of deleted scenes and director's commentary. Could be that there is a good explanation which was simply cut to trim down the length of the film, in place of cutting down the action sequences.

As far as the twist I expected... At some point during the hospital (third) layer, I thought I had figured out what was going to "blow my mind" based on the claims of people who'd seen the movie. Up until that point, the movie itself seemed very thoroughly and adequately laid out to me; certainly a fascinating idea, very cool, but nothing I thought of as mind-blowing. So I was expecting a big reveal at the end, wherein some assumed fact throughout the film was exposed as fiction. Saito's character had been bugging me. Why was he so invested in the heist, and so capable a member? His level of investment could be explained to a certain extent by his business ambition, perhaps fueled by desperation as this other company is about to crowd him out of the energy industry. But given how powerful Saito is, there's no way his business is limited solely to energy. He never acts as though his empire depends upon the heist. Perhaps he somehow doesn't catch on about limbo, and so thinks he'll wake up if he kicks the bucket from his wound? That Cobb is merely keeping him alive so he can confirm an eventual success? I can find enough reasons to suspend disbelief regarding his level of commitment.

Combined with how capable and comfortable he is, though, I'm not buying it. His participation with this group of experienced professionals (for that matter, Ariadne's as well) is suspiciously smooth. He doesn't seem out of his depth at all. I can believe that Fisher, the inheritor of a vast fortune, is fit and capable enough to handle climbing and skiing in the hospital level. But Saito's consistent performance through three dream levels, especially as an older man who is in direct control of his company and has probably had much less time for skiing and fencing lessons and whatnot in recent years, smelled rotten to me.

I expected the reveal to be that Cobb himself was the target of an inception operation, aimed at pulling him out into reality, either from the limbo he had shared with Mal, or from a general psychosis/delusion/dream state unlike the limbo he describes. Perhaps Mal was actually right when she jumped, and Cobb's subconscious conflict was actually a manifestation of his guilt over not having followed her. The way I figured it, Saito was either a projection or a former associate of Cobb's, involved in the inception operation targeted at Cobb, of which the Fisher inception operation was merely a subcomponent. I was waiting to see how each level of Fisher inception, supposedly designed to lead Fisher toward the idea of splitting up the company, would be shown to have actually been primarily intended to lead Cobb toward the idea that Mal was right all along, so that upon returning to the supposed reality, he would shoot himself, escape, and be reunited with her (and perhaps Saito, if his commitment and competence was explained by his nature as a former associate of Cobb's).

I had Ariadne pegged as the upstart genius architect who designed this "rescue operation" with not only dreams within dreams, but false inception within true inception; a level of complexity necessary because of Cobb's familiarity with the process himself. He wouldn't be taken in by anything that wasn't even more subtle than his own most daring and genius plan. I was so attached to this idea, because that reveal truly would meet the requirements for mind blowing, to me, that when finally Cobb faced Saito in the continuation of the first scene of the movie, I interpreted Cobb's expressions and behavior as indications that a light bulb had gone off in his head, and he had either come to the realization that Mal had been right, or seen the plan within the plan, the higher layer of inception, and gotten the message. When that twist never came, I went back and thought that Cobb must simply have been dazed by his entry into Saito's limbo, surprised at Saito's age, and/or uncertain whether he and Saito would truly make it back to reality.

I was somewhat disappointed with the lack of a twist ending, but the "wink wink, nudge nudge" ending that actually came was itself quite skillfully done. I probably would have been fully satisfied with it had I not come up with what seemed such an appropriate alternative beforehand.
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Re: Inception

Postby PCal » Sun Jul 18, 2010 4:49 am UTC

spoiled just because

Spoiler:
Ok so I thought it was a good movie and all but like most the end bugs or irks me. Ambiguity is all fine but unlike most peoples theories to resolve the ambiguity involve limbo and stuff. This may be extremely nitpicky and I''m sure i will be corrected if wrong. But at the end when he spins the top it goes in a big looping motion first the proceeded to straight up tops don't do the I'm pretty sure.

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Re: Inception

Postby OddFire » Sun Jul 18, 2010 7:11 am UTC

Malice wrote:
Spoiler:
In the other experience, Cobb and his wife enter a shared dream-space in the same way. (We're not told whose mind they're in.) Somehow (this isn't explained either), they end up in Limbo. We know that Cobb and his wife spent about 50 years there, in perceived time. This means they must have been several layers down, and that means they were sedated. And sedated people cannot wake themselves up by killing themselves. Thus, the way out of Limbo cannot, as Cobb believes, be suicide.


Spoiler:
I thought that the shared dream-space was in Cobb's head? Because when the couple supposedly went back to reality, and to their children, Mal didn't believe it. She said that they weren't her children, she knew, and that he didn't because he didn't realize he was dreaming. They both would have known their children, and he commented to his Mal-shade that he couldn't make a realistic version of her -- only a cheap imitation. So it stands to reason that the children would have seemed unreal to his wife, because she would have pictured the children differently than how he made them.

And I agree completely on the Limbo points.


My guess on the ending:

Spoiler:
I think that the whole movie was Cobb's dream. Many clues are ambiguous but, for me, the biggest clue that it we NEVER see Cobb's totem. He always uses his wife's, despite Arthur saying that touching another person's totem defeats its purpose. Even if Mal's totem became precious to him, it doesn't make sense that he would have abandoned his own totem. Furthermore, it doesn't make sense that he would use someone else's totem to help him define what was real, because they're not supposed to work that way. My guess is that he's forever stuck, because he breaks every rule that should help him escape -- the totem, not using memories to construct dreams, etc. And if suicide's not the way out, maybe that was the dream only trying to trap him further, so that he goes deeper in on his own and goes deeper by trying to escape?

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Re: Inception

Postby novax6 » Sun Jul 18, 2010 10:30 am UTC

Saw it tonight, and I really enjoyed it. Although I still like Memento much more and I'm not sure it will hold up under repeated viewings as well as The Prestige either, for me at least. I'm not going to go into why, as Malice and others have already done a good job of explaining it.

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Re: Inception

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Sun Jul 18, 2010 2:13 pm UTC

Spoiler:
Cobb and his wife went to Limbo on purpose, I thought. They probably had a different way of reaching it than sedation + death. As high up as the first layer, the team says that Limbo could trap you for "fifty years" so its time-shenanigans seem layer-independent. In other words, Cobb's first trip and his second were quite probably under different circumstances.
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