So SteelyKid went off to visit her grandmother yesterday, and Chad and I took advantage by going to see Inception tonight.
I knew almost nothing about it before going to see it, having deliberately avoided all reviews and even trailers. I knew it was about dreams and manipulating them, that someone did a lot of wire-work (*waves at glvalentine*), that it seemed to be well-received, and one other random thing that I will put behind a cut.
My thoughts without going and reading anyone else's:
I really enjoyed it. Look, it's a caper/action movie, with an ensemble, many of whom are nice to look at (this would be where my inner twelve-year-old draws sparkly hearts around Arthur), that was exciting and moved fast (mostly) and wasn't stupid and didn't have major fail that jumped out at me, and that only made me somewhat motion-sick starting about 2/3 of the way in. Of course I'm going to enjoy it (see also: Ronin, Ocean's Eleven).
Further thoughts behind the cut. Warning: I am tired (the first half of the week was very very long) and a little loopy from motion-sickness and though I worked some of this out in the car on the way home, there's still going to be some talking-out-loud quality to this.
So I was waiting for that shoe to drop the whole movie, the last shot of the top maybe starting to tip over and maybe not. Because of that, and for some other reasons that I'm going to babble through in a minute, I'm not bothered by it, because seriously, you always had to know that that was a possibility—or not even so much a possibility as the gun over the mantle, yeah? If it were never fired or at least acknowledged, then I would have felt it as a hole in the movie.
I'm okay with the ambiguity because I see it as, and oh my does this sound pretentious but, an acknowledgment of the fundamental unknowability of reality. Brain in a jar thought experiment, solipsism, blah blah blah, all that. My attitude toward that is, well, yes, it's a possibility, but since it can't be proved one way or another, you should just act as though it were, so the possibility being raised doesn't upset me very much. Also that ending allows the audience to construct a reality of their own, which is very fitting.
And even if it's not ambiguous, if that top wasn't starting to wobble, that's okay too with me, because again, we always knew that it was a possibility. And I still find it a satisfying story because even if Cobb doesn't make it all the way out of the dream, he's still made the decisions to act as though it's reality. (I would say that if it weren't all a dream—which I don't think it is because that would be artistically unsatisfying—then the point at which he got trapped is after he finds Saito and convinces him to leave [*], and wakes not to the plane but to a different dream. I realize that that's contestable, but there's no reason why the rest of the team shouldn't have made it out, we know that people can wake from limbo, and it was important to him that he find Saito.)
As for fail: well, yes, Cobb's manpain and fridged wife and beautiful/deadly, but it seemed to me the worst aspects of her character were attributable to her being, you know, a bad photocopy that was warped by his subconscious, which is at least something (and which could be taken as a metaphor for, or example of, the ways that women characters are written badly by men—tricky road to go down, creating stereotypes to expose them, and I'm not sure if I'm not reading too much in). This is the kind of thing that often annoys me more as I get further away from the adrenaline of the story, but really I was never very emotionally invested in the two of them anyway, so it may not end up being a big problem for me. And there was no objectification of or romance for Ariadne, hooray hooray (except that tiny (cute) little bit with Arthur in the lobby). She got to be the voice of sanity to balance Moll but not to replace her. The non-white characters didn't get the most active roles but were smart and didn't betray anyone or die horribly to save others or ping any stereotypes for me, and there was more than one of them on the team, so I wasn't upset there either.
Umm, what else? Chad points out that the soundtrack is fairly intrusive, which is true. I thought the sound design was good though—there was a head-thunk against a windshield early on that caught my attention as sounding more "realistic" than I expected. Loved the wire-work and the "forger" reveal. Thought the movie did an amazingly good job keeping all the levels connected and followable. Honestly kind of amazed it was ever made in the first place, because geez, can you imagine pitching it?
Oh, and the motion-sick and the "geez this is a long movie" both came when they moved into the snowy dream level. I did pull back a bit there because, as we should have learned from superhero movies, Mr. Nolan? It is not a good idea to cover up most of your actors' faces.
[*] This is totally random but the other thing I knew about the movie is that I saw a mention of someone slashing two characters whose names didn't mean anything to me at the time but who I immediately recognized as Arthur/Eames when they started interacting, because, come on. And once you have a little bit of slash goggles on, that last conversation between Cobb and Saito is very eyebrow-raising—come with me and we'll be young men together? I know, I know, half of you hate me now.
Right, now I'm off to read other people's thoughts. I know Genevieve, Leigh, and Abigail had posts, who else? Gimme links.
Cold light of day ETA: yeah, the problematic bits look worse now, but they didn't intrude much during the movie and on the whole I still enjoyed it a lot.