I want to start this review with a small apology, I’ve been away for a couple of weeks to care for my own mental health, and I haven’t had anything to write about. I’m starting to get into a better mental state, so I thought some writing would help me get back on track.
When I mentioned that I hadn’t seen Inception, my adoptive sister exclaimed in shock. So, once she left for her own home, I sat down and watched Inception that evening. It was… fairly confusing. but I think I got my head mostly wrapped around the story.
The world shown in Inception is magical to me. I love the concept, using shared dreams extract information from other people, or as shown later on, plant an idea in someone’s head. I love the concept of the story, I love how it was pulled off. However, I can only name three characters; Mal, Fischer, and Saito.Mal is a short name, and as the malicious antagonist, it was easy to remember, Fischer I saw written down once, and Saito reminds me of my art program, Paint Tool Sai.
The amount of character development in this movie is questionable. Our protagonist for this story is Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Dominick Cobb. Cobb is an Agent? Freelancer? Whatever his profession, he’s skilled in the art of “Extraction” easily able to go into someone’s dreams and take out desired information for a variety of reasons, but mainly espionage.
We learn fairly early on that he is a dad of two children, that he can’t visit because of “work” But we soon are told that he’s on the run from authorities for apparently killing his wife. Cobb tells us that he’s falsely accused and he didn’t kill her.
One of the most important character for me was Ariadne, portrayed by Ellen Page. She’s the every day character in this film, and while she seems to be pushed to the side for the action scene, is important in two ways. First, She designs the ‘Levels’ of the dream. Crucial to the story. In addition, she’s our door into the story. The story is explained to her so we can learn what’s going on. Ariadne is a relatable character for me, and I would guess many viewers. She’s driven by her curiosity, She enjoys creating the dreams to a certain extent. Who hasn’t wanted to change the world just with their thoughts. If Ariadne’s character hadn’t been introduced. I still wouldn’t know what the plot of the movie was.
Moving on to our Antagonist, Dominick Cobb. While people will say that Mal Cobb is the antagonist, it is the version of her is created by Dominick Cobb’s subconssious. Mal, played by Marion Cotillard, is the personification of the guilt and anger that Cobb went through. We learn later in the story that Cobb was responsible for her death, by planting the idea that her reality isn’t real, and was in heavy denial of this fact. Due to his guilt, Mal became a phantom. Invading any dream that he goes into. She sabotages the plans that they create. I may have missed something, but she never really has any intention than just to cause trouble. She doesn’t try to get Cobb stuck in Limbo with her, she only attacks his friends. Mal’s character seems like a moving hazard. Her real life version has a bit more development.
The story starts way before the film. Mal and Cobb fall in love and have children. At this point, Cobb is already a professional in his field of Extraction. His training is only emplied by him being at a school in france… I could be wrong, this is what I infer from the story. if it was said how he became an Expert Extrator, it was glossed over. Some point in their life, Mal and Cobb enter their dreams, and visit Limbo. Yet again, not stated how they got to Limbo. they build a world that they love. Mal loves the new Limbo world so much, that she becomes obsessed with it, and doesn’t want to leave. She makes herself think that Limbo is reality. This is visualised in the story by her locking away her totem, An object that ties you to reality. After a while, Cobb wants to return to the real world, but Mal thinks that Limbo is her reality. Cobb finds her totem and sets it spinning. This is his symbolism of telling her that this isn’t reality. planting an idea called an “Inception” Mal believes that she’s in a dream world, and the two leave Limbo together.
Mal, still with the idea that “This isn’t reality” still thinks she’s dreaming. The only way to wake up from the dream, is death. Mal, malcontent with life, Kills herself. She thinks she will wake up in the real world. But, she is wrong and is killed for good. Cobb is accused of killing her and he goes into hiding, working as a Extration Thief.
During one of his missions, he meets Saito. Failing to retrieve Saito’s information. Saito recruits Cobb for his own needs. Saito offers Cobb his family back as a reward. How he does this isn’t explained, but by the end of the movie my brain was too frazzled to question it.
Cobb puts together a team and explains what you shouldn’t do in a dream world to Ariadne, which is soon revealed that Cobb does all of these things. During this segment, we learn most of Cobb’s story. He has a simple motivation, he wants to see his kids again. He’s guilty about the death of his wife. And that’s all of his development. I wasn’t too satisfied with his story. Maybe if I had kids of my own, I would feel a bit more motivated. It’s an admirable motivation… but it’s hollow. We hardly know Cobb, We only know the names of his kids, the kids seem to mostly accept that they’re not getting their dad back too. I can’t really put a moral on the story, but I’ll get back to that in a bit.
The next part of the story is the heist. Things go wrong as expected, Cobb breaks more rules. This time was more enjoyable. Watching Cobb convince Fischer that he was in a dream was rather amusing. Pushing forwards, they get close to their goal. Cobb ends up in Limbo again with Mal. And nothing really happens. I think Cobb finally moves on. but I really can’t tell. If I had to put a moral on the story, it would be “Letting go of the past allows you to reach for the future.” but Cobb doesn’t really let go of the past. He gets to live with his kids again, but I don’t think he really got over loosing Mal, not truly.
As the movie comes to the end, We are given an ambiguous ending to the story, Cobb is not shown to be in reality, but not shown to be in a dream. To me, that felt cheap really. Either the hard work paid off, or it was all for nothing. and we aren’t given the satisfaction of knowing either. Personally, I felt that he was in reality by the end of the film. that way the story actually has some kind meaning.
To conclude this mess of thoughts, I feel the characters haven’t got anywhere near as much development that is needed for a good story. I’ve mentioned four of the main characters, I think there were seven people in that heist and I’ve only had to mention half of them. the rest of them are only kinda important to the story, we aren’t told anything about them really. I do want to add, Even though I disliked most of the characters, The actors played their roles flawlessly. Leonardo DiCaprio captured the character of Cobb and played him amazingly. I’m a massive fan of Ellen Page, and Ariadne was one of the better characters. She seemed grounded, and while she had no development at all, we had her motive and was the only relatable character for me. Mal portrayed by Marion Cotillard was excellent in her role of the ambiguous antagonist. I also loved Cillian Murphy’s character of Robert Fischer. As the Target of the heist, the character managed to fill the role of being suspicious about the dream, but also trying to understand what was happening. Ken Watanabe playing Mr Saito was a great cast too, easily being a believable business magnate.
I also loved how dreams were shown. the dream world seemed believable and made sense. While most of the rules of people in the dream are broken, the rules around the dream world are set in stone and easy to follow. I had no trouble following the dreams, only the characters and plots. Great Actors, Great Concept, Character development and the plot are shaky.
That about finishes my look at Inception. While the CG of the film looked revolutionary, the plot only seems significant because it’s confusing. I didn’t have much emotion for the film. However, this is my review. People have different opinions, and what I want to do is use films as a way to learn about story telling. As a learning experience, this film has plenty to teach.
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