Inception

Some movies are just fun. Watching them provides the same thrill as a roller coaster ride. There were moments in Inception that I was on the edge of my seat, barely able to contain my excitement as the action unfolded. I didn’t know what to expect next. That happens so rarely.

I felt the same thrill the first time I saw The Matrix, in Trinity’s opening fight scene when she runs up the wall and in the beautifully choreographed shoot-out in the lobby. The Matrix has been so copied and parodied that it’s difficult to remember that it looked unlike anything that came before it, to remember a time before bullet time. I felt the same way about Star Wars. The opening shot of the Star Destroyer coming in overhead pulls you right into the middle of the action and the story. If you weren’t there in 1976, you can’t feel the same sense of wonder, that feeling of “Wow! I’ve never seen anything like this before.”

The visual effects in Inception are stunning. Sadly they are drained of color. The movie is so sepia-toned that I wondered why they didn’t just go all the way and make it in black and white. In some scenes, Leonardo DiCaprio’s face looks like he’s had a bad experience with orange-toned tanning spray. Look around. How much orange do you see? My world is filled with green, sky blue, stunning yellow, bleeding reds, and brilliant whites. Every time I watch one of these damn orange and teal movies I want to go home and watch “Singin’ in the Rain” or “Yellow Submarine”.

Photo by Stephen Vaughan

Typically I’m drawn toward character-driven movies. I enjoy some action flicks but I’m easily bored by CGI car chases and explosions. Although Inception has plenty of car chases and explosions, I was never bored. And as the movie wound up and up and up toward its conclusion, I experienced moments of pure childlike glee. The score helped a lot. Sometimes it was a bit heavy handed (because I noticed it and it brought me out of the movie although not as much as the score in The Dark Knight did).

Some people have remarked that Christopher Nolan doesn’t understand the nature of dreams, that the dream within a dream within a dream in Inception is too ingeniously constructed (with the aide of an architect, no less). This is dream conceived as a Chinese puzzle box, a maze, a labyrinth. It is nothing like Pan’s Labyrinth which plays with similar questions of which is real and which is the dream. The dreams of Pan’s Labyrinth are filled with symbolism and emotion. They seems to speak from the subconscious. While the dreams in Pan’s Labyrinth are horror/fantasy, they still represent an escape. Reality is the real nightmare.

In Inception, the dreamscape of the subconscious is conspicuously logical, and well, conscious. All the manipulators of the dreamscape think their way through to solutions. Perhaps this is possible because they are not dreaming. This didn’t bother me in the least. I enjoyed that the gang was populated with intuitive thinkers; Inception has the timing of the best caper flicks. However, the fact that the characters were so alike, so quick to understand, so equally competent in their roles makes me lean toward the idea that they are, in fact, creations of Cobb’s mind rather than just Christopher Nolan’s.

Frankly it doesn’t matter. There is nothing weighty about Inception. One never becomes emotionally invested in the characters. If they are trapped in a dream or unable to distinguish dreams from reality, what does it matter? Christopher Nolan loves illusion. I prefer to enjoy his magic show. What’s the fun of figuring out how it’s done? Feed your sense of wonder. Let go and fly.

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