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Great Action Caper; Disappointingly Straightforward
Inception made me feel a bit cheated. Which is unfortunate, because it's actually quite a good film. A great film, even. However, it is a film that goes in a profoundly unexpected direction by, ironically, not going in an unexpected direction.

The premise of the film is not entirely new, though it's not old hat either: the heroes are capable of entering the dreams of others to mess with their minds, so they get paid to go do just that. The theme of entering the dreams of another in order to screw with their minds has been done before by Paprika, Nightmare On Elm Street, Changeling: The Lost, and probably a few others I can't think of at the moment. It was the use of this narrative device that drew me to the film, in fact. I always loved the mind-bending nature of the idea, and after his work with Shutter Island (which is my favorite Leo film), I walked into the theater with the hopeful expectation that the film would give my brain some delicious, twisty Mind Screw to chew on.

What I got was a straightforward caper film. A very good caper film. The acting is amazing on all counts (Leo is a tour de force as usual, but I especially liked Arthur, who was a walking Crowning Moment Of Funny), the plan is satisfyingly Gordian, the writing is tight and moving. Yet I still felt disappointed at just how simple the metaphysical landscape of the plot is. With the exception for the movie's first sequence, you are rarely asked to reevaluate what you have seen, and when you are, it is no more than a simple "oh, so the last couple shots might have been All Just A Dream". The structure of the dream world is too neat and one-dimensional, making it all too easily followed. I know it's weird to bitch about a movie for not being incomprehensible enough, but the Mind Screw is half the fun, dammit!

All in all, a great action caper. Just don't go in expecting crazy Mind Screw dreamscape shenanigans, because while they got the "crazy dreamscape" down pat, they left out the Mind Screw.
Not that your review is overly negative or one-sided, but I'm kind of sick of people Completely Missing The Point of the movie's premise. The whole point of 'idea-stealing' or 'inception' is the make the Mark think that he's not dreaming when he actually is. Overt visual Mind Screw would be counter-intuitive to the stealthy nature of the job. Saying that Inception should have Mind Screw dreamscapes is like sayingninja shows should have loud boisterous characters in bright clothing (OK, bad example) James Bond should announce his real name, purpose, and all the features of his Cool Car to the Big Bad as soon as he meets him.
comment #5497 shiro_okami 20th Dec 10
Okay, you're Completely Missing The Point of my review. I am not saying that Inception should have Mind Screw. I am saying that it was made to be a straightforward action caper within a dreamscape, so people who go in to see it for the first time expecting a Mind Screw movie will be disappointed, because that's not what the movie is about. Also, I never said anything about overt visual Mind Screw. I was talking about complex metaphysical Mind Screw that leaves you scratching your head because you're constantly questioning the meaning of scene's you'd seen. Inception doesn't really do that (because it's not that kind of movie), but I was hoping it would and found myself feeling like They Wasted A Perfectly Good Plot afterwards due to my initial expectations. I'm basically trying to warn people against expecting a convoluted head-scratcher when they see it, because it is, when it comes down to it, a straightforward caper with a rather different setting.
comment #5498 MarkAntony 20th Dec 10
Well, when you use words like "metaphysical landscape" or "structure of the dream world", it left me the impression that you were complaining that the setup and appearance of the dream worlds weren't freaky enough like they were in Paprika. I don't really understand what other sort of Mind Screw you were expecting. Sorry if I misunderstood, but you should explain yourself better.
comment #5513 shiro_okami 21st Dec 10
I said that they did the crazy dreamscape part just fine, you know....

But you're right, I should've said "superstructure", and probably should have explained "metaphysical landscape". This is my first review, and the word count limit really caught me off-guard.

Anyways, since I don't have a word count limit here, I can clarify all I want. =) I was referring to the fact that the film, despite its premise, ultimately does not ask you to question the nature of reality and consciousness. It brings us this whole ambiguous duality of reality and dream, but the lines never blur. Which, as I stated in my review, isn't really a bad thing, exactly. It's just that I know I'm not the only person who walked into the theater expecting something philosophical that made you think. Instead, Inception was an action caper that used the dream as simply a background. Which, once again, I never said was bad, but it's more than a little disappointing for people like me who enjoy being confused by an intricate puzzle. In fact, that disappointment actually colored my initial impression of the movie, and I walked out of the theatre not actually liking the film very much. It was later that I realized I was letting my premature expectations color my view of the film, but I know quite a number of people with similar experiences.

So, yeah, bottom line: great film, but don't mistake it for a mind-bending examination of the boundaries between dreams and reality, because it's not.
comment #5514 MarkAntony 21st Dec 10
I think I understand now. You wanted the dreams to be part of the plot instead of just the setting. By the way, "superstructure" isn't a great substitution. "Metaphysical nature" and "The separation of the dream world [from reality] is too neat and one-dimensional" would probably get your point across better. Those substitutions are not as literal.
comment #5521 shiro_okami 22nd Dec 10
Okay, I wanted to let this lie, but I find I cannot. You keep telling me that I am miscommunicating, yet it seems your own grasp terms I have used is at best flawed, and instead of trying figure out what the proper definitions are, you are repudiating their use.

First, "Metaphysical nature" is completely non-specific. It just means "the nature of existence", which only barely approximates what I'm getting at here. To whit: Metaphysical: Relating to the nature of being. Landscape: Can mean either the expanse of scenery visible from a single frame of reference, the aspect of land characteristic to a particular region, or an extensive mental view or interior prospect. (Paraphrased from a Dictionary definition.) So, when I say "Metaphysical Landscape", I mean both the aspects which are characteristic of existence (What is real? What is reality like?) and the way those characteristics interact with limited, singular perceptions of an individual. I am obviously not talking about geography, or the word "metaphysical" would never have even entered the picture. That would be the "dreamscape", or the "landscape of dreams", or even "oneiromantic landscape" if I were feeling particularly daft.

As for the "structure of the dream world" thing, that was actually a separate complaint. I do mean its structure, or possibly "superstructure" depending upon how you'd look at it. The fact that the dream is nothing more than a straight up and down ladder bugged me. I mean, what? Did they really think we couldn't handle something more complex than that? I could think up something more interesting right off the top of my head: The dream world is like a network of rooms, where each room is a dream. All of them have doors to all the other rooms, but many are locked on one side, or locked on both sides. This is just an example, of course, but my point is that just making it a 1-dimensional ladder is downright unimaginative. They can't even get lost in it!

But I digress. Point is, you are telling me I shouldn't use certain words because you misunderstood what they meant, even though I used them in a verys specific way that has a very specific meaning. So no, I do not think your suggestions would get my point across better. In fact, they distort my intent, and upon rereading I find that my original wording was quite clear. Next time you feel like lambasting someone, please take the time to actually read what they've actually written instead of lifting single words out of context and then claiming they mean something they do not.
comment #5633 MarkAntony 4th Jan 11
"I am obviously not talking about geography, or the word "metaphysical" would never have even entered the picture."

Perhaps not obviously to you, because that was EXACTLY what I thought you were talking about. As the dream itself is metaphysical (abstract, incorporeal; unless you were going for the philosophical definition), so would anything pertaining to it would be as well, including the dreamscape's geography.

"Metaphysical: Relating to the nature of being. Landscape: Can mean either the expanse of scenery visible from a single frame of reference, the aspect of land characteristic to a particular region, or an extensive mental view or interior prospect. (Paraphrased from a Dictionary definition.) So, when I say "Metaphysical Landscape", I mean both the aspects which are characteristic of existence (What is real? What is reality like?) and the way those characteristics interact with limited, singular perceptions of an individual."

I have two issues with your explanation: 1) You base it on the use of a lesser known definition of the word "landscape" and 2) even after explaining which definition you used for the word, I STILL had to think for a bit to make the connection between the two words and the connotations they are supposed to give off. I am not a moron but I am certaintly not a genius either, and even if I was, I am not a mind-reader.

Anyway, the "structure" example makes things much clearer. I just didn't understand what you meant without it. Also, please note that it doesn't matter how clear your review is to you if it leaves the reader of it confused.
comment #5637 shiro_okami 4th Jan 11 (edited by: shiro_okami)
Ah, I see the problem. I've been using philosophical definitions, because philosophical definitions are exact and unambiguous. Yeah, by "metaphysical", I mean "related to metaphysics". I honestly forgot it even had any other definition.... =/

"1) You base it on the use of a lesser known definition of the word 'landscape'"

Actually, I've based it on all the definitions of the word "landscape". Once again, it's "landscape" of the Metaphysics of the in-movie universe.

And, honestly, I'm not sure how else I could possibly put it. Not without a long explanation that wouldn't ever fit the word count. "Metaphysical Nature" is, once again, inexact, especially since I'm talking specifically about characteristics of existence from the limited perspectives of the characters and audience. "Structure" doesn't work, as that implies non-subjectivity and just has all the wrong connotations.
comment #5665 MarkAntony 7th Jan 11 (edited by: MarkAntony)
Yeah, considering that I didn't know that "metaphysical" had a philosophical definition. Not the first time I pulled dictionary.com in a Tv Tropes discussion, and probably won't be the last.
comment #5671 shiro_okami 7th Jan 11
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