Analysis of Inception

Warning: This is analysis is full of spoilers. This is meant for people read after they have seen the movie.

If you would like to read my movie review of Inception – no spoilers – then go here.

As soon as the movie is over you’re left wondering:

  • Is Cobb -Leonardo DiCaprio – awake at the end?
  • Or was this all a dream?
  • Whose dream?

It is brilliant writing to not only leave these and other questions open for interpretation, but to also include support for varying, even contradictory, interpretations. In this analysis, I’m favoring the idea that the entire movie takes place inside of different levels of Cobb’s dream. Although there is an intriguing possibility that we’re in Mal’s dream, throughout the movie.

I have watched the movie three times now. I’ll review some of the key points that I have noticed that warrant further thought.

  • We never see Mal (Cobb’s wife) jump. There are two scenes where we see her stand up and move to jump. Each time the scene quickly cuts to Mal falling.
  • Cobb walks up to his father-in-law’s (Miles) classroom and looks in through windows in the door. Then cut to Cobb sitting down inside the classroom – without Miles hearing him.
  • Miles asks Cobb why he doesn’t design the architecture of the dream himself. Cobb replies, “Mal won’t let me.” At that point Miles leans forward and says, “Come back to reality.”
  • There are numerous scenes in the movie where Cobb is supposed to be awake yet everything seems very dreamy. Such as when he squeezes between the buildings in Mombasa as he is running from Kobol security forces.
  • The old man who is overseeing the dreaming men says to Cobb, “They come here to be woken up. The dream has become their reality. Who are you to say otherwise?”

Dreamy Names
The character Ariadne is the architect who is tasked with designing the dream. The terms maze and labyrinth are used repeatedly to describe her role in the story. Writers oftentimes pick the names of their characters to subtly describe their characters. It turns out that the name Ariadne comes from Greek mythology. She is the daughter of the King Minos of Crete. She helped Theseus overcome the Minotaur. If you recall that myth involved a labyrinth as well. Karl Kerenyi observes that her name is merely an epithet and claims that she was originally the “Mistress of the Labyrinth.” ( Wikipedia reference )

The character Yusuf is the dream doctor in the story. This name also has a dreamy reference by way of the Quran: The story – of Yusuf – begins with a dream and ends with its interpretation ( Wikipedia reference ).

If Ariadne and Yusuf are real in the movie, i.e. Cobb is awake, then Christopher Nolan (writer/director) is being hackishly heavy handed in using such a blatant references – which I don’t believe to be the case. But if Cobb is dreaming throughout the movie, then it is Cobb who is writing the story and his subconscious chose the names for these projections from his memory of Greek mythology and Islam.

That argument comes down to this: Christopher Nolan is either writing a story about a man who can share dreams and is trying to get back home, or he is writing a story about a man who is writing the story subconsciously about trying to get back home? If you were a brilliant writer – which Nolan is – which would you choose?

The Inception of Totems
At the very beginning of the movie Cobb is explaining to Saito:

What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? Virus? Intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient and highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold in the brain it’s almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed, fully understood, that sticks. [Pointing to his forehead.] Right in there somewhere.

Later, back in reality, while in the helicopter, Saito asks, “Inception. Is it possible?Arthur says that true inspiration is impossible. But Cobb interrupts and says, “That’s not true. ”

At the very end of the movie when Cobb and Ariadne are in Fischer’s subconscious Cobb gives her the An idea is like a virus speech and adds, “The smallest seed of an idea can grow to define, or even destroy you.”

It’s at that point that we discover that Cobb implanted the idea in Mal that she had to kill herself to wake up to reality. And he feels guilt over that.

However, Cobb also mentions earlier in the movie that the idea for a totem came from Mal. She implanted into him the idea that a physical object could be used to determine if you were awake or dreaming. And we know that the spinning top that Cobb uses was originally Mal’s totem. Cobb picked up her totem in the hotel room before she carried out his inception and jumped. In a sense, they exchanged inceptions right then.

At this point I’m unsure about the effectiveness of the totems. I don’t see how that could actually be used as a concrete test to determine if one is awake or dreaming. Which might be the point: you can’t tell.

The Kicker
And here’s the kicker that Cobb is dreaming throughout the movie: he is the only one who resists waking up from someone’s dream when they awake. At the very end – I’m pretty sure – Cobb and Ariadne are in Fischer’s subconscious, trying to dig him out. But Fischer wakes up when the defibrillator revives him. And Ariadne wakes as well. So how can Cobb remain in Fischer’s subconscious when Fischer is no longer there? I’m either missing something, or that’s one of those unaccounted plot holes or it’s an indication that we’re in Cobb’s dream throughout the movie. I’d wager that it’s not the middle thing.

This generation’s Blade Runner
Blade Runner asked us to question: if we had the memories, and even dreams, of someone, would that makes us that person? (That’s the simplistic version.) As a good friend said immediately after the movie, “Inception is this generation’s Blade Runner.”

The dreams in Inception aren’t your regular dreams. We don’t have the ability to share our dreams. We are alone with our own projections and subconscious. But what if we could share our dreams? How would that be different than reality? For reality is a shared interpretation of what our senses perceive. (Yes, I’m guilty of majoring in philosophy, with an emphasis in epistemology.)

Just like we don’t yet have androids that count electric sheep, we also don’t have the ability to share dreams or enter shared virtual realities. But even now, we can already seriously debate what is real. When, and if, we do have shared virtual realities, these issues won’t be philosophical anymore. They will be practical everyday questions. And how we answer and deal with these questions will reshape everything we know.

Are we in a simulation right now?
If you were a software developer with god-like computing power, you could create a virtual reality that is indistinguishable from reality. If you did so, what would it look like? A universe composed of myriad copies of identical objects – check. We have protons, photons, electrons, etc. Quantized space and time – seems likely. Objects only exist if they are perceived – exactly as Quantum Mechanics dictates.

Yes, if you look at the Universe through the eyes of a software developer, it looks like we are inside a simulation right now. Check out Morgan Freeman’s Through The Wormhole episode 1, Is There a Creator? if you would like to see more about that possibility.

What do you think? What have I missed? Anyone else looking forward to watching this again, and again, and . . . How do you think the sequel will start? With an alarm clock waking up Cobb?  🙂

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Movie review : Inception

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[ No Spoilers ]

Right down the line from acting to directing to writing to musical score to effects, this movie is top notch. In some cases brilliant. There’s not a weak link to be found.

There are very few movies that twist and turn between action and drama with Gatling gun speed yet remain mostly comprehensible. I said mostly because everyone in the theater is going to walk out asking, “What just happened?”

Where most movies that try to mix a complex plot with action fail is that characters do things for unknown reasons. Or they do things and we don’t understand what it is that they are doing. With Inception it’s always clear what they are doing and why they are doing it. But what it means is always a debatable.

A friend that I saw this movie with summed it up perfectly, saying “This movie will be this generations Blade Runner.” This coming from a huge Blade Runner fan. I couldn’t agree more. Based on reviews and all the positive things that people are saying in the social media sphere, Inception will have a hugely successful theater run. And you will very likely want to see it again on DVD because it needs multiple viewings to get your head wrapped around it.

There is no doubt that Inception will garner a cultist following. The only downside I see from this is the inevitable copies it will spawn that will, for the most part, suck. Such is the price of a ground breaking movie. (Don’t worry: you don’t have to see these movies. I do.)

You can read a full review of Inception at MovieMikes.com.

What did you think about Inception? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Movie review : The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

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The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is like watching the Dallas Cowboys play the Washington Redskins. You know the Redskins are going to make a game of it for a while but in the end you know the Cowboys are going to win. Even so it’s still fun watching the game, unless your a Redskins fan. Which in this analogy would be equivalent to you being an evil sorcerer. 🙂

( Sorry, there are a lot of RunPee/Redskins fans and I just love having fun with them. )

Here’s how you can tell if you should see this movie. There is a scene that recreates the scene in Fantasia where Micky uses magic to clean the house. If you think, “Oh God, not this again,” then maybe you should skip this movie. But if instead you think, “Oh cool. They’re redoing the classic scene from Fantasia,” then you might just enjoy this movie.

What Sorcerer’s Apprentice really has going for it is a fast pace. After the first 20 minutes or so of the movie the scenes come quick and there’s plenty of action and chuckles – which makes it real hard to get PeeTimes. They don’t dwell on one story line for very long. Nor do they waste time developing unimportant characters. Each scene serves its purpose and then they move on.

And I really liked Nickolas Cage in this role. Very good choice. Of course Alfred Molina is an excellent bad guy. He should be. He’s had enough practice.

MovieMikes.com gives Sorcerer’s Apprentice 3/4 stars. Jump over there if you would like to read their review.

What did you think about The Sorcerer’s Apprentice? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Movie review : Predators

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If you’re a fan of the original Predators movie – and who isn’t – then you’ll enjoy this movie. The original is a A+ iconic movie. That would make this installment a solid B+ at worst.

There was nothing cheesy about this movie which is so often the case with squeals. It was very real to the Predator universe.

Jump over to MovieMikes.com if you would like to read more about Predators.

What did you think about Predators? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Movie review : Jonah Hex

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What can I say? Jonah Hex isn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen – that would be Ultra Violate. The production values didn’t suck. The acting was okay for a comic book based movie . . . I’m trying to think of all the good things I can. Oh, most importantly we get to see a sweaty, scantily clad, Megan Fox in a few scenes. That’s got to be worth at least . . . well, I’ll let you decide.

So this movie wasn’t the complete suck-fest that I was expecting. But it wasn’t very good either. The story telling is very heavy handed. The action scenes are rather ordinary. Fortunately the movie is very short. It’s only 80 minutes long and if you take out the 8 or 9 minutes that the credits run then you’re looking at a movie that is just over an hour long. If they had gone on and on it might have been worse. That said I’m sure some people might like this movie.

One big disappointment is how little they used John Malkovich. I think the director probably told him, “Hey, don’t shower for a week and then show up for an afternoon’s worth of shooting. That’s about all we need you for.” Crap, one of Malkovich’s henchmen had just as much screen time as he did.

Check out MovieMikes.com to see what they thought about Jonah Hex.

What did you think about Jonah Hex? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Movie review : The A-Team

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Our Score: 3 out of 4 stars

As I head towards the half-century mark (Septmeber 16 of this year if you’re thinking of getting me a present) I’m often asked what my favorite television shows are. Of course, it’s hard to pick one favorite. On the comedy side I like “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and the variety show Carol Burnett used to do. On the drama side, I could watch every episode of “NYPD Blue” and “Law and Order” over and over again. And thanks to TNT I’m sure I have with “Law and Order.” Another favorite, more for escape it provided then it’s pedigree, was “The A-Team.” Of course, when I heard there was going to be a feature film made my mind immediately hit on “Bewitched.” But I needn’t have worried. Thanks to a top notch cast and a skilled director, “The A-Team” is back!

Read the complete review of The A-Team at MovieMikes.com.

What did you think about The A-Team? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Movie review : Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

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Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
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Prince of Persia was a so-so movie. Very formulaic: two parts The Mummy and one part Pirates of the Caribbean. Only it wasn’t as good as either of those. Okay, it was a looooong way from being as good as Pirates. But it’s probably neck and neck with The Mummy.

The action scenes are pretty cool. I think young kids will enjoy it just for those scenes. There is a lot of killing with sword chops and stabs plus some bow-n-arrow kills. So if you don’t want your kid to see something like that then don’t see this movie.

What this movie really lacked was humor. The only funny lines in the movie revolve around Sheik Amar played by Alfred Molina. It was great to see Alfred in a non-evil role. I hardly recognized him.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Gemma Arterton were just fine in their roles. I think that had the writers given them some good humor to work with this movie could have been surprisingly good instead of predictably average.

What did you think about Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Movie review : Iron Man 2

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[ No Spoilers ]

Was Iron Man 2 as good as the first? Overall I’d say no but some bits were better. For instance the fighting / action scenes in IM2 were better and there were more of them. Certainly no letdown there.

The main ingredient that is missing in IM2 is the feeling of discovery that the first one had. You really can’t recreate that. Although it’s possible we could get that magic back in a future sequel that brings members of Avengers together.

There’s only one little thing that I didn’t like about the movie: the story doesn’t always stay internally consistent with their universe. We saw in the first movie that the Iron Man suit is insanely heavy. When he first lands on the roof of his house the weight of the suit brings him crashing through every floor until he reaches the basement. In IM2 they need to have Stark get into his suit while at a remote location. So they invent the suitcase that morphs into his suit. The problem is that Pepper is carrying it around and throws it to Stark. Are you telling me that the suitcase version of the suit – which seems to be exactly the same suit that he puts on in his basement – weighs only 10 pounds? Or that the shape of the suit makes a difference in its weight?

I know, it’s very nit-picky. I don’t care if movies warp physics to suit their needs – like warp drive – but once you set the rules, please don’t break them.

And don’t forget to stick around until after the end credits. There is an extra scene that you won’t want to miss.

What did you think about Iron Man 2? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Movie review : The Losers

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I’m a big fan of this movie genre. I can’t wait to see the A-Team. But let me tell you this movie was horrible. The plot was horrible. The acting, what little there was of it, was bad. Most of the time it seemed like the actors were just reading their lines for the first time. A few minor laughs. The action was okay at best. And you certainly see all the good bits in the previews. And let me tell you the bad guy in this movie – Max – was pathetic. He was supposed to be some funny bad guy and it just didn’t work at all. Bad writing, bad direction, bad acting.

This movie got a 37% from RottenTomatoes.com. That’s 37% too high.

What did you think about The Losers? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

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Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Movie review : How to Train Your Dragon

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[ No Spoilers ] How to Train Your Dragon was a good solid kids movie that the whole family can enjoy. There were a handful of fun action scenes that appeal to kids. I was surprised that it has a PG rating. The fighting scenes are very cartoonish. Nothing more violent than a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

The movie had a couple of laugh-out-loud moments but that was it. It wasn’t hilarious by any means.

The story is very easy to follow. Nothing complex to get lost in.

As far as the peetimes go I think they are all pretty equal. Each one is fairly easy to sum up. But none of them are as missable as I would really like.

The voice acting was top notch. Gerard Butler as Hiccup’s dad was perfect. There wasn’t a weak spot in the cast.

[ Spoiler ]

One thing that bothered me a little after the movie is that it wasn’t obvious if Toothless knew that it was Hiccup who had shot him down in the first place. I would have liked to have seen that added in that after they bond Toothless discovers the truth and then forgives Hiccup. I think that would be a good message to kids about forgiveness.

What did you think about How to Train Your Dragon? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

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Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.