I wouldn’t call this a review. Rather, an intense display of emotions about a film that made my heart and brain hurt. Fair warning: spoilers abound.
When I first started seeing previews for Inception, I should have just trusted my gut. I would watch them and get totally pumped for the movie, but then it dawned on me that most of the trailer was just buildings crumbling, windows exploding, and dramatic music making me feel tense, agitated and intrigued. There were mentions, of course, that they were in a dream, and at first I was like WOAH, but really? No clue what this movie was about, and even after seeing it, I’m really not sure what it was all about, or why I had to sit through two and a half hours to try and figure it out.
I’m not going to say I hated Inception, because even though that’s what I told my friends right after seeing it, I really didn’t. I just make extreme statements and then decide if I want to back them up or not. After much consideration, Inception just really fucking annoyed me. Granted, the film kept me watching the whole time, and I wasn’t squirming in my chair desperately wishing it was over, so I could start living my life to the fullest in hopes of erasing the piece of garbage in question from my mind. So to stay positive, I’ll try to talk to about what I liked first.
Well, uh, it was pretty. And shiny! The acting was good; I liked the people in it. I wanted to know how it ended.
Whew, okay now that that’s over with, let’s get started for real. I think it’s important to state that what makes me hurt the most is that I would have probably forgiven everything that pissed me off about this movie if I had just loved the characters a little bit. If the film had just taken time to pack some heat behind its punch. But halfway through the movie, when I realized I didn’t have any investment in these people, I started noticing some things…
For one, Inception was too complicated to make me fully appreciate the action and stay absorbed the whole time. There were six thousand rules about dying in dreams, dying in dreams within dreams within dreams, projections attacking you, how to trick the projections, how to trick Cobb so that his dead wife Mal couldn’t fuck more shit up, how to remember who the dreamer actually is (because half the time I couldn’t tell whose subconscious was fucking who over), using totems to know when you were dreaming or not (except Cobb didn’t even have his own totem? He just used his wife’s?), how the architect can create a dream in someone else’s head, how this one guy can appear to be another guy, you need to use this bizarre device to go deeper into a dream even though you can’t actually have said device if you’re already dreaming. God, I’m lost just typing all the random shit I remember needing to remember during this movie. My brain is hurting just trying to write this review, that’s how irritating this is. There was too much work to be done for a movie that didn’t have enough emotional or psychological pay-off, because normally complexity isn’t bad at all. In this movie, though, every time someone said it was time to go into yet another dream in a dream, an angel got its wings ripped right the fuck off.
The endless rules and complications of this film remind me of when I was little, and my cousin and I used to play games together that he created. He would make these intricate, complex worlds that were really intense, and after he’d finally finish creating this world we’d actually
get to play the damn game, but then while we were playing he’d be like, ‘oh I forgot to mention there’s actually another rule, which makes me automatically win. Sorry I forgot to tell you.’ Inception may have set-up all these rules in the first scene, but it certainly seemed to “remind” us of these rules at convenient times during the entire movie. I’m most especially referring to Cobb revealing information about Mal at annoying intervals. Why was he being such a dick about this whole thing? Every single time Cobb would just say something like, ‘Whoops, sorry I put us all in danger again guys, I’m just that much of a dick.’ And how come Arthur, who had been working with Cobb for presumably awhile and who had seen Mal screw them over in dreams, was unable to figure more of this shit out? Meanwhile, Ellen Page strolls in and immediately puts two and two together and confronts the poop out of Cobb.
If there had been a better back story, I might have been able to get on board because I would have cared so freaking much that I might have gone that extra mile to fill in some blanks and maybe even watch the film a second time. Instead, I didn’t quite understand how or why Cobb was involved with this technology in the first place, how he failed his first mission but got out of trouble really quickly, how Arthur got involved with Cobb, why this technology was so readily available to Cobb. The bits of back-story we got were frustratingly vague. I understand that originally the government was trying to use these dream techniques as a way to train soldiers in battle without actually having them fight, and that Cobb’s dad taught him about the technology and they were trying to improve it. What I really don’t understand is why Cobb and his wife Mal were just allowed to tinker around in dreams together building shit. You’d think that this kind of technology would be more carefully monitored, that people wouldn’t be allowed to just dick around and end up in limbo. Then after they finally got out of the dream, they just woke up on their kitchen floor. THEY WERE DOING THIS SHIT JUST IN THEIR HOUSE? What about the children? What the effing effity EFF?!
You know how I said before that Inception was really pretty and shiny? Being pretty and shiny isn’t an inherently good quality in a movie, because all too often the film relies too heavily on being cool, that underneath all the sparkle it actually isn’t that cool. That’s why certain movies from back in the day that might not look the prettiest or shiniest are still really great—because they have the story and characters to back it up. Inception was like that guy at the party who is dressed really nice, says some cool shit in a cool way, but then all of a sudden it hits you that he’s a total douche. I saw right through those Matrix moves and that dramatic music; it didn’t have the story or characters to ever make it a movie that would hold up over time and my deep ponderings. Because Inception spent so much time trying to be cool and trying to remind us of all its complications, it really missed the mark on its character development. I didn’t give two shits what happened to anyone in this movie, and I only cared thismuch about Cobb getting back to his kids.
And then the ending. The goddamned middle finger to the audience. WILL THE TOP STOP SPINNING? GUESS YOU’LL NEVER KNOW! It left me stone cold. This movie could have greatly benefited from a more concrete ending, even if that ending meant he was still stuck in a dream, or even a more elaborate “twist”. It would have made all the events leading up to the ending more interesting to watch again and again for clues, but in this case, I was just left wondering what the point was to it all? If the one character I cared about may or may not have completed his goals, why was I forced to sit through this? I would have been okay if he hadn’t completed the goals, but please, don’t try to mind-fuck me or make me choose my own ending. Cobb didn’t even have final words with his companions, and that really bothered me. If there is no connection between the characters, and no real connection between myself the viewer and these characters, where does that leave the film? I don’t want to be left feeling like ‘why?’ after a movie, I just want to feel ‘yes, that was worth the time.’
In the end, Inception was just Leo’s attempt at Shutter Island 2: Return to Crazy Land, and like most sequels it wasn’t as good.
P.s. if you put an ocean in your movie, and get your characters wet it doesn’t automatically give you cool points. Unless someone hot takes their shirt off because of it. Then you get lots of cool points.
P.p.s. Why did Cobb and Mal have to get hit by a train in their dream to die? Way to be melodramatic, guys. Just jump off a freaking building like everything else. God.