Inception Review (SPOILER ALERT!!!)

!!!SPOILER ALERT!!! SPOILER ALERT!!! SPOILER ALERT!!! IF YOU IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN INCEPTION I HIGHLY SUGGEST THAT YOU DON’T CONTINUE READING THIS POST UNTIL YOU DO BECAUSE CRUCIAL ELEMENTS OF THE PLOT AND CHARACTERS WILL BE REVEALED AND DISCUSSED IN THIS POST!


Inception Inception Inception… I barely know where to start.  Once again if you haven’t seen the film and are staunchly against spoiler alerts, then stop reading right now, walk to your local theater (IMAX preferably) watch Inception, and then read this post (and comment).  It will still be here waiting for you.  I am writing this assuming everyone watched Inception already so I won’t bother to attempt to write a condensed and probably confusing summary.  If you need one read the wiki.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film.  I am a fan of Chris Nolan’s films and I think the world is a better place with his versions of Batman and Inception did not disappoint.  The cinematography was nothing short of amazing and I’m glad Nolan didn’t whore himself out and jump on the 3D trend.  The no-gravity fight scenes were some of my favorite! Not many films stay with me after the theater and Inception definitely did that.

What I loved about it so much was the ending, which ironically enough is why a lot of people hated it or didn’t get it.  Yes everyone is entitled to their own opinion blah blah blah, but I think these people didn’t like it because Inception made them feel uncomfortable.  By uncomfortable I mean that the film doesn’t spell out for you its meaning and more importantly it doesn’t give you a definite ending.  We have been conditioned by eons of storytelling that there is always a beginning, middle and end which is told in a linear fashion.  It wasn’t really until postmodernism arose in literature, and consequently film and media, that authors/filmmakers started to stray from the linear method of storytelling.  Nolan’s Momento is a perfect example of a postmodern film and of course so is Inception.

Another part of the film that I loved, and the haters hated the most, was the ending.  Does the top fall?  Does it keep spinning?  Is he dreaming or not?  And Nolan goes all Sopranos finale on us and give us a big black screen.  We as an audience are used to being told the ending of a film, but not this time.  He gives the viewer power many filmmakers never do; the power to make your own decision about the ending.  I think he was dreaming of course.  If the big secret is that Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) wasn’t dreaming that would be very lame.  I also don’t think that the essential question of Inception is if Cobb was dreaming or not but rather, what part of the film is a dream and what part is reality?  Or taking it even further, was the entire film a dream and if so whose dream is it?

Now this isn’t going to be one of those reviews that I, the writer, has devised a theory and stands fully behind it.  If you were expecting that sorry guys.  I will admit I have to watch Inception at least one more time and catch details I may not have noticed before because I have way too many questions still (see below).  I hear theories and may consider them but then something always comes up to contradict the theory and I’m back to where I started.

But this is what I do believe.  The fact that there isn’t a clear-cut theory or ending tells me that the message of Inception (what Nolan wants the viewer to get from the film) isn’t in the theories or ending.  I believe through Inception Nolan was planting an idea in our minds.  Nolan is an auteur and he shows us through the film that although an individual may not be experiencing “reality” or something true, the emotions they feel from their experiences in that false reality are real.  Just like Robert Fischer, jr. (Cillian Murphy) picked up that windmill in his fathers safe and cried and felt his father truly loved him; that was a false reality but very real emotions.  He woke up with the inception.  Another example is at the end of the film when Cobb is finally reunited with his children and you as the viewer feel his happiness, but then we wonder is he still dreaming?  Whether he is or not, Cobb’s happiness is real.

Nolan wants Inception to do the same thing to us.  We experience the film, connect with the characters, question parts of the film, maybe question the entire film, and leave the theater with the ideas from the film implanted our minds.  Some consciously and some unconsciously.  Therefore the film Inception is an inception itself.

I think the essential question we (or at least I) left the theater thinking was how do I know what I am experiencing is reality?  Like the characters in Inception they didn’t realize they were dreaming until they woke up or until someone in their dream, like Cobb, tells them it’s a dream.  Trying to even explain what reality is without using the word “real” proves itself difficult. Try it.  Yeah I know, isn’t as easy as you thought.  How do we know what we perceive as reality is in fact just that?


Here are some theories I’ve gathered (some with Google’s help):

  1. Inception is a film about dreams about a film. ← The best theory I’ve read so far!
  2. All of Inception is a dream.
  3. Inception is all Mal’s dream and she’s trying to wake Cobb up.
  4. Mal and Cobb are still in limbo.
  5. Everything after they “woke up” in the plane is a dream.
  6. Everything after Cobb’s sedation test is a dream.
  7. Saito is the architect, pulls a Mr. Charles on Cobb.
  8. Ariadne is the architect/Cobb’s therapist.
  9. We do see reality during the film, but Cobb is still in a dream at the end of the film.
  10. We do see reality during the film and Cobb is in reality at the end of the film.

Questions Questions Questions: Okay so I have a some questions about a few things that happened in the film.  If you have an answer or theory comment and let’s discuss!

  • When Cobb and Mal (Marion Cotillard) were in limbo they were there for about 50 years and grew old together.  But after he did the inception on Mal and they laid down on the train tracks to kill themselves/wake up and they were young. I don’t understand that.  If they were in limbo until they were old wouldn’t they have been old when they killed themselves?  Some people say it’s a plot hole but I think it’s way too big for it to be a plot hole.  Some people say it was Cobb’s dream. What do you think?
  • In the first layer of Fischer’s dream, when Eames (Tom Hardy) tells Arthur something like “You gotta dream bigger” and pulls out the bigger gun, did he think that into existence?  Is it because he’s a forger?  If so why wouldn’t he think up all sorts of weapons to use against the projection army?  Or did he just think it was a witty line and he had the gun the whole time?
  • When Cobb woke up from the chemically induced sleep by Yusuf (Dileep Rao) he’s in the bathroom splashing his face and drops his totem (the top) and  Saito (Ken Watanabe) picks it up.  Now if you remember in the scene with Ariadne (Ellen Page) and Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Arthur tells her not to let anyone touch her totem because only she can be aware of its weight.  So since Saito touched Cobb’s totem does it lose its value?
  • Also the top wasn’t Cobb’s totem, it was Mal’s, so does it even work for Cobb?
  • If the dream they enter at the end of the film belongs to Fisher Jr., then why does Cobb enter the limbo he built with his wife? Shouldn’t it be Fisher Jr.’s limbo?
  • Why is Saito old in limbo and Cobb is young? Yes Saito was in there longer than Cobb but it seems if Saito is that old then Cobb should have aged more right?

What would your totem be?

After discussion with my friends on what our totem would be I decided mine would be pink lipstick, I’d change the weight of it somehow like Ariadne did with her chess piece.  I picked lipstick because whenever I set foot in Sephora I end up with a lot less money than when I walked in, and pink because, well, I love PINK! Leave a comment below on what your totem would be and why?

Also check out me and Otakus & Geeks discuss Inception here on this podcast.

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11 Comments

  1. ohh baby! good review! after watching the movie twice in theaters I am a huge fan of the notion that Mal is actually the protagonist trying to save Cobb from his own subconscious, that has spawned its own meticulously detailed existence. lol here are some of my attempts to answer your questions, with my own theories. doubt they are right, but this is what I’ve come to think:

    ~because it was limbo, where time can be the biggest illusion of all, Cobb and Mal only grew old because they immersed themselves in the dream and lived a life (even if that life was only lived in the mind). when Cobb planted the idea in Mal’s subconscious that it wasn’t real, the notion of being older could possibly cease and they reverted back to their self projections (i.e. how Neo always saw himself in the Matirx)
    ~i think because of the comic relief relationship spent going at each other with wits, that was just Eames way of being awesomely smooth. but because the dream was so thoroughly planned out and architized(i love making up words!)i think he just planned on having that from the beginning…but that one has the least evidence
    ~also my whole notion of Cobb’s totem, was literally thrown upside down, when i realized he had touched it BEFORE Mal died and not after. if it had been after, then Cobb could have used it in theory because Mal wouldn’t share the dream from a real standpoint in order to contradict the totems purpose. however since he touched it in order to plant that idea, its value might have changed.or at least i think so. which is why i think that it is all a spawn of Mal’s inception on Cobb, and that his belief that when the totem falls (putting him in reality) is actually opposite and and he cant realize. its a stretch lol, but i like it.
    ~Arthur also answers that question, as he does A LOT of things in the film. the reason their in Cobb’s limbo is because limbo is shared between the dreamers, and since Cobb has been there, his limbo remains most prevalent
    ~AND FINALLY lol, i have the same question about the age thing as you do!
    but i think the strongest evidence to suggest the film at least ends in the dream is that the kids had on the SAME DAMN CLOTHES, and did not age..or even change positions for that matter. you would think they have that nice big house, could we possibly play some else?! lol but yes that is my rant about one of my new favorite movies. #thatisall
    GREAT POST!

    Reply

    1. This comment is a post in itself! lol But I’m glad you liked the post! So I am also leaning towards the Mal’s dream theory as well for the reasons you stated. But then I’m left wondering if Mal is trying to wake up Cobb b/c he’s stuck in this dream world he thinks is real, why would she want him to stay in limbo with her? Wouldn’t she be trying to wake him up? She’s like Cobb honey your life is all a dream, this isn’t real, but stay here in limbo land with me. Umm… ??? BUT I also really like that concept of Mal’s dream because even though she fails at getting him to realize it’s all a dream, at the end he sees his kids again and can live a happy dream life with his children now unknowingly in a dream world. Even though it is a dream, how much does that even matter if you believe it’s real?

      About the kids clothes thing I have to rewatch it. Some people said it was the same clothes and some said they were a little different. But I feel like if they were the same exact clothes and playing in the same place in the yard it would be the biggest sign that it was a dream thus answering that big question.

      And thanks for answering the questions about the big gun. I figured it was just a witty line but in that movie you never know! And as for them getting old that’s an interesting idea that they reverted back to their young selves.

      Even though I have all these questions I hope Nolan never explains the film! It would ruin all the fun!

      In conclusion, I need to rewatch this movie with cliff notes!

      Reply

      1. We both need to watch this movie again.

        q1-I think it’s proof that Dom is an unreliable protagonist and we can’t trust anything that comes from his perspective. He is very unstable and we have to be as objective as possible when it comes to him. IMO he’s most likely still in a dream…who’s dream is the question.
        q2-Likely a plot hole. I don’t think Nolan was ready for the intense scrutiny that each scene in this film would undergo. Man, I love Eames…he’s my favorite character by far. Reminds me of an older Balthier from FF12. Did you play that game?

        q3-That totem was Mal’s originally so perhaps it was never of value to Dom anyway. Why did he keep it if it wasn’t even his originally? Once again Dom proves how unreliable he is.
        q4- Yup exactly my questions!
        q5-It seems as though the rules of dreams are not as concrete and finite as Dom would like to think they are. Perhaps Dom doesn’t know as much about dreams as he thought he did…or none of the characters for that matter. The rules of dreams seems to be infinite and change just as the dream and the subconscious can change. Dreams are very fluid so I don’t really buy that the rules of limbo are as cut and dry as some of the characters make it seem.
        Q6 – Each stage of a dream adds on more years. Saito died much earlier than Dom so he was in Limbo a lot longer. He originally died in the first level but his death was delayed due to the time delay. By the time he got to Limbo he was an old man. I am sure Dom aged but not by much because he wasn’t dead as long.

        Great post Jamilla! I’m mad that you introduced yet another theory into my head. Mal is the architect huh? Very interesting!

  2. Excellent!!! I just saw the movie last night and left the theater in fear of going to sleep for I am a dreamer. I can dream all day and its to the point i dream while im awake and ponder up thoughts and situation in my mind, lol, its sort of like my own continuing soap opera in my head. i create a dream and see where it takes me. I’ve been doing this for years (secrets out now). So inception had me all messed up in the mind “like is this my reality or am i creating a dream” lol.I agree with you “although an individual may not be experiencing “reality” or something true, the emotions they feel from their experiences in that false reality are real.” Bravo, Bravo!!!

    Reply

    1. I’ve had some really intense dreams where I feel they are signs or premonitions and warn people about it. I’ll wake up crying. Once I dreamt about this massive race war int he U.S. it was so scary I woke up crying. I wrote about it in the Fahari and on some blog a while ago.
      The past few years when I had a nightmare I always realize in my dream that it’s a dream and I won’t really die and tell myself to wake up until I do wake up. But I find dreams so fascinating because (I believe) they are all our made up from our subconscious and they are like puzzles that we make unconsciously that we have to somehow figure out.

      This is also why I don’t agree with dream interpretations books. Because they give u explanations for what every single thing means in your dream. But you have your own unique experiences with objects, people, events the dream books explanations for those will not fit for you.

      Anywho that’s what I think anyway! lol glad you enjoy it honey! thanks for your comment!

      Reply

  3. Just saw Inception last night and I agree that it was really great! My film-student husband says that it will be studied for years to come. I really enjoyed the ambiguity of the ending, although, since I’ve been considering that we might all be trapped on a holodeck on someone’s desk since I saw the Moriarty episode of ST:TNG back when, the idea that him, and we, might all be a dream is pretty cool. My totem, hmmm, I’m not sure. Maybe one of those small decorative spoons or a pitchpipe, weighted in some way.

    Great review!
    Rosalind
    Girls Are Geeks

    Reply

    1. Thanks Rosalind! Yeah I’m a Comm Arts major and I know my professors had a mindgasm when they saw that. I’m sure we’ll be talking about it in the fall in class. Nice ideas for the totem! I think Inception is so great is because dreams are a subject that even now is still such a mystery to us. They are so fascinating! Shoot we might all be in one big dream and we’ll wake up when we die and live again, or we’re on a holodeck! lol or even just one giant marble that aliens are playing with like in Men in Black! haha

      It reminds me of this comic The Invisibles by Grant Morrison, one of the last lines in the series the character Jack Frost says something like “Do I believe in fate? It doesn’t matter if I do. Fate or free will, I am here. Put here by fate or came here on my own free will, I am still here.” That’s kind of what I think of when I wonder is this life I’m living a reality. If it is, or if it isn’t, I’m still here, still living it and still believing in it.

      Reply

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