Inception: the "It was OK" version

What is up with Ellen Page's fake lips? I hate to begin a review with something so superficial, but that's how distracted I was every time she spoke. Maybe they aren't actually fake. I don't care enough to research it. They attracted my attention in a negative way, is all I'm saying.

Page is Ariadne (weird name, right? hold that thought), a brilliant (as in actually a genius) architecture student who is brought into the inception team to design the "labyrinth" of the dream. A funny aside: the guy sitting next to me snorted derisively at the notion of Ellen Page being the best and brightest student of Michael Caine, master architect professor guy. I have to say, her intro was pretty hammed up. As he teaches Ariadne the ways of dream-building, Cobb referrs to constructing dreams as prisons, using labyrinths. I thought that was a little strange, since dreams don't really feel that way. His earlier descriptions - not knowing how you got to the place where you are; not having a clear grasp of time's passage - these are things that characterize dreams. Well, stop reading if you don't want to know the lame reason that the "maze" concept begins to appear at the same time as the character Ariadne.

The whole time I was watching the movie, I was thinking, "Ariadne is a weird name, I bet there is some sort of mythology thing here I am supposed to get." Well, I just looked it up on Wikipedia ('cause I'm no mythology buff) and Ariadne was the "Mistress of the Labyrinth" in Cretan mythology. Cute? Clever? I guess. I'm glad Christopher Nolan respects his audience enough to throw in references like that, but all the same, it was kind of obvious, even to someone (me) who knows literally nothing about mythology. Ellen Page's Ariadne is the architect of the maze of the dream world, in fact, the Mistress of the Labyrinth; and here I was wondering why her character needed to be a girl. In legend, Ariadne is a goddess who helps another Cretan defeat the Minotaur. In Inception, Ariadne steps into the maze of Cobb's (Leonardo DiCaprio) dreams to help him defeat Mal (Marion Cotillard) who haunts him, but I won't say why.

If this is a retelling of Cretan mythology, then I am totally on-board with calling the maze-master 'Ariadne.' If we are meant to assume that Cobb is still in the dream at the end of the film, then again, Ariadne is a good name for Page's character. Since it is too perfect a coincidence otherwise, I am going with that interpretation. I don't want to get into a lengthy conjecture as to whether the dream was over at the end. It is left up to the viewer to decide, so you get to see it and choose for yourself, if you even care by the time the movie is over, which I kind of didn't.

The more I let this one stew in my brain, the more I think this movie could have been really good. The Matrix was really good. Total Recall was really good. Inception was like mixing those two movies and making them a little more boring. There were two too many characters to care about, so I sort of cared about none of them. Leonardo DiCaprio was fine. It was really hard to understand some of the dialog, and I felt  it was kind of important to understand it, since there was a lot of it and it explained what was happening. They had some sort of crazy CGI make-up on Ken Watanabe for his old age scenes, and it did not work. His eyes did not look like human eyes. 

Finally, here is one possible pitfall in having an entire movie take place within a dream: in dreams, there are no rules. Rules are a good thing. Constraint is a good thing for the creative process (Le Ton Beau de Marot - read it). The difference between good sci-fi and bad sci-fi very frequently hinges on nothing more than the storytellers setting up clear rules for their created world and sticking to them. Having said that, I want to applaud Mr. Nolan for spelling out rules and then mostly following them. I think he did better than any other director would have done. He did what many directors would not have done. He constrained himself, instead of taking the story down some really weird avenue and then expecting the audience to be OK with it because 'dreams are crazy like that.' The pitfall to all these rules? Explaining them eats up story time, but it's just a trade-off for doing this kind of movie. The rules definitely make it a classier film.

I liked the wonky horn music in the soundtrack.

I predict the the residual impression left by The Dark Knight will result in an Oscar nomination for Nolan as Director or for the film as Best Picture. Christopher Nolan is at the peak of his popularity, so the Academy has to get on it before he cranks out another one that isn't as good as The Dark Knight. I think this movie was nowhere near Best Picture material, but lots of other bad movies have won, hence my prediciton.

I think this movie could have been awesome. I'm glad I saw it, but maybe should have saved my money and seen it on DVD instead.