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magnuskn said on July 30th, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Another criticism of the film was that it was dressed in typical Hollywood fashion: Shoot-outs and big guns.

But then we are talking about a reality where people can invade your dreams and you can get training against that technique, so those “Hollywood trappings” are explained in the movie itself.

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Menamebephil said on July 30th, 2010 at 12:51 pm

I, for one, really liked the fact that it was so ‘normal’ in design. The fact that everything was ordinary was a sign that the dream was Under Control, so when everything went tits up you could /feel/ it. Try imagining the Everything Tilting scenes in the hotel being /anywhere/ near as effective if they were in a flying demon castle fighting barbarian lobster men.

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Lucid dreams are nothing like that either, though. They still run on dream logic and they are still cracked in the way that working with one’s subconscious has to be. So saying “Oh, they’re not normal dreams” doesn’t stop me from saying “But dreams aren’t LIKE THAT.” Lucid or not, dreams are a lot weirder than that, and if that is what Nolan thinks a subconscious is like, his mind is a hell of a lot more boring than everyone I know.

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Most of the dream invasions involved making the target believe they’re living it out in reality, so it would make sense that the dream architect (Ariadne) would construct a realistic looking dream so as not to break that illusion.

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‘zurn’ nails it. The point is to make the subject feel like they aren’t dreaming. Thus, it makes perfect sense to be in locales that aren’t typical of what most people would consider ‘dreamscapes.’

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Menamebephil said on July 30th, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Besides, this is all meaningless anyway. The dreamscapes were explicitly /designed/, and why the hell would you design a world that takes more than half a second to acclimatise to.

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Everyone dreams differently anyway. I’ve heard people talk about how they always dream in third person, or in black and white, or some other thing that’s alien to my experience.

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Snap Wilson said on July 30th, 2010 at 9:37 pm

My name in lights! Glad I could serve as inspiration, even if it was inspiration to disagree. :)

I agree, he wasn’t making a film about dreams. I don’t believe they were lucid dreams, not as you describe them, because if the dreamer was able to do any “steering,” it wasn’t evident in this case. The architect can lay out the setting, the dreamer populates it with his subconscious, everyone hitching a ride is able to apparently import weapons, clothing and vehicles as needed, but the dreamer doesn’t really have any control over the outside elements.

But really, that isn’t my complaint. Call them subconscious landscapes or something else (which I’m fine with, it’s all semantics) the resemblance to actual dreams is tangential at best. I’m just saying when you have the subconscious to play with, the possibilities are endless. The drab, sterile environments weren’t chosen because it made sense for them to be that way. It was an artistic choice, because Inception is a Serious Film and color is not serious enough for it. Everything must be brown or gray; serious, businesslike, fitting colors. Even in Cobb and Mal’s fantasy world, which supposedly existed to serve as their own sandbox playground, everything is fugly. Their “dream house” looks like a freaking office building, for chrissakes.

But whatever; I think it’s visually drab, despite being striking in spots. Your mileage may vary, but that’s only one complaint.

I’m not going to debate into the internal logic of the film, since the drift away from reality means you can justify pretty much anything, and while the explanations (like Matt’s) may be clever, their not necessarily justified. Salma Hayek and I don’t go flying ass over teakettle every time I roll over in my sleep, but hell, the anti-gravity fight looked cool even if it didn’t make any sense.

What I’m criticizing is the results. The film spends a hell of a lot of time setting up rules that it winds up breaking almost immediately (and don’t say “because it was all a dream;” that’s an intellectual copout.) If I’m nitpicking and I wasn’t supposed to pay attention to all that exposition, fair enough. What’s left? Cobb’s story leads more to questioning than emotional investment. The action scenes, aside from some cool physics-bending in the hotel, were very conventional. Can anyone say there was anything the least bit exciting about the assault up the snow fortress?

I know the above paragraphs seem overly critical. I mentioned that I liked the movie, and I even saw it twice (although mostly because the second ticket was free). There are some interesting ideas. It has spawned some cool theories, although aside from Ariadne’s name, I haven’t read one that the film has even hinted at justifying. There were cool special effects, and Marion Cotillard was almost as effectively scary here as she was in MA VIE EN ROSE. I just don’t think it holds up to the deep thought it’s trying to provoke.

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Snap Wilson said on July 30th, 2010 at 9:40 pm

And apologies for any spelling/grammatical errors. Three hours of sleep for the win!

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Actually, they specified during the sequence where Cobb trained Ariadne that the dream can be steered, but the more you try to steer the dream, the more likely it is that the person whose dream it is will notice, and their subconscious will fight back (as represented by everyone in the dream trying to kill you.) We see this in the inception itself; Cobb manifests the train in the middle of the dream.

The reason they don’t steer the dream isn’t because they can’t, it’s because it’s not their dream.

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Snap Wilson said on July 31st, 2010 at 1:36 am

John:

Yeah, the architect can mess around with the landscape that he/she creates, but not the elements that the dreamer’s subconscious populates it with. I don’t think that fits in with the “lucid dream” theory because it’s just control over one aspect of the dream; the setting, not the contents. You can set it in Generic City, but theoretically, there’s nothing to keep the dreamer’s subconscious from populating it with Looney Tunes characters and Victoria’s Secret models.

Like many elements of of the film, it bears a passing resemblance to something about dreaming, but there are more differences than similarities. The architect has some semblance of control like the lucid dreamer, but only over one aspect and not others, and the architect isn’t the dreamer, and the… subconscious turns on you? Wha’?

Meanwhile, the dreamer can action rationally and logically within his own subconscious, knowing full well it’s a dream, and doesn’t have control over any of it. So lucid dreaming via designated driver?

This is all narrative contrivance as far as it goes. The rules that the movie wants to play by, which is fine, but there’s no real basis for it outside of auctorial fiat.

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I like the idea of a shared dreamspace being so conventional. Hence the number of hotels and airports/planes featured.

However, my concern is that much of the ambiguity is due to characters being more archetypes than realized individuals.

Compare this to the sum of its parts – the grit and comic book spectable of the Matrix; as well as the banter and camraderie of Soderbergh’s first Oceans film.

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I had no problems with the set designs. Our dreams are not always fantastic landscapes and alien worlds: our dreams are based on what we know.

What I did miss was a sense of misplacement: things shifting about on a countertop, for example, paintings on the wall that were Picassos one moment and Wythes the next. The eerie feeling of something amiss in the dream worlds… I didn’t notice it, so if the effect was there, they did too good a job of being subtle with it…

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@Snap Wilson: I said “lucid dreaming” was the inspiration for the film, not that every single detail perfectly conforms to the scientific phenomenon. Obviously, certain elements were altered for narrative purposes, because you kind of get to do that in a science-fiction movie. If you make everything 100% accurate to reality, you get…well, you get “Memento”, which ain’t too shabby either, but the point is that sci-fi has to play fast and loose with reality, because it is talking about things that are impossible in reality.

But folks have been saying, “It feels nothing like real dreams,” and my point is that it feels a lot like lucid dreams. Not that it is one, but that you can see the line of descent from that phenomenon to this movie.

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People who criticize Inception because DREAMS AREN’T LIKE THAT are thinking of that one awesome dream they half-remember where the space dragon took them to save Tiffany Fallon from the Mars demons and forgetting the ten million dreams they’ve had where they’re in high school the day before the big test and they completely forgot to study.

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Inception is about dreaming in the same way that Star Wars is about spaceflight.

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Is it trying to be boring as all get-out? Because daaang did it succeed in spades.

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It was alright. Psychonauts did it better.

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