Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I was probably the only person in America who hadn't seen Inception, but Amazon delivered the modestly-priced "triple pack" (includes blu-ray, regular DVD, and "downloadable digital" versions) yesterday and so I figured It Was Time.

All-in-all, it's a pretty kick-ass movie. One that begs to be played *loud*, too: the soundtrack is quite a lot of what makes it all work, and Hans Zimmer, the composer, borrowed freely from Holst's Saturn and Don Davis's Matrix soundtrack for lots of those big, in-yer-face "brass explosions" and the result is pretty awesome.

Surprisingly, when I looked around for critiques and reviews of the movie, I was rather surprised that most people -- even people who professed to like the movie a lot -- seemed to find Inception a rather shallow piece of work. Which left me scratching my head; when the Matrix movies came out, there were all kinds of deep, philosophical discussions about the nature of reality, I remember someone put together an annotated transcript of the dialogue between Neo and The Architect in Matrix Reloaded, references were made to Plato's The Cave, etc. Some really deep shit.

I've been a big Philip K Dick fan for decades, so having characters moving willy-nilly between realities, sometimes losing track of what's really "real", is something I'm pretty comfortable with. And while the Matrix films had some awesome action / fighting sequences, Inception beats Matrix hands-down for plot and consistent world-building. So I was kinda surprised to see people talking about how Inception was really a metaphor for movie-making (say what!?). Personally I think there's rather a lot more there that Matrix-meets-Sunset-Blvd.

There appears to be some disagreement on what really happened at the end: some people seem to think it was all wrapped up neatly, with Dom Cobb returning to reality and they all lived happily ever-after. I've only seen the movie once, but I'm of the opinion (and I find it just generally more attractive to think) that it's more complex than that. Dom claimed that he knew inception was possible because he'd done it to his wife Mal when they were trapped in Limbo, persuading her that they weren't living in reality. Well -- what if Mal implanted a memory in Dom to convince him that they were living in reality? In other words: maybe Mal was right?

I know the totem is supposed to indicate whether or not one is currently in reality -- but the totem concept was Mal's idea, and Dom even uses Mal's totem after her death. I don't think it's impossible to wonder if totems -- or, at least, Dom's totem -- aren't as reliable an indicator as they're made out to be.

Ah well. Everyone's got an opinion, and mine isn't set in stone. But I guess I'm just not a fan of movies that wrap up too neatly at the end. I prefer a little ambiguity or subtlety in my narratives, where I have to apply some thought to "what it all means" versus being hit over the head with "the answers".

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