I think one of the best decisions Nolan made was to not indulge into the scientific nature of the dream machines. To get too bogged down in the analytical, scientific nature of that would detract from the real story. People complain that Nolan over-indulged in his Batman films by exploring every facet of Batman's origins and thus removing the mystique of the character; I think people would have complained had we known every single detail of the dream machines or how Cobb and his team were able to acquire them. I had those same questions too, but sometimes knowing more is not always necessarily better.
I agree it's wise not to try to explain the "science" or the "technobabble" of these things. That said, they still have to be believeable
, at least at a glance, and the questions of logic shouldn't come into play if these things are believable. No one questions Millennium Falcon
's ability to be a space-faring vessel in spite of its condition- it just seems believable that it is. Or, for a more apt comparison, check TNG's Frame of Mind
. There is a prop that is little more than a metal cylinder with a lit niche on it, and it serves as a device that will perform reflection therapy on Riker. Turns out it was not even real
, but when it was on the screen I never doubted that it could do what the character said it could do. It scanned his head, and projected the images, and, what's more, it looked like a real, tangible machine
. The dream boxes in Inception
, with their "wrist" tap, and their awkward, yellow, plunger-like buttons, looked like toys to me.
By the way, Frame of Min
d had a similar story to Inception
, and, despite it's very limited time and budget, almost worked better
. By having the play be confused with reality, and having both the entire thing set in an insane asylum really made the viewer question things!