Release Date: December 7, 2010
Studio: Warner Home Video
Packaging/Materials: Three-disc Blu-ray case with slipcover
Running Time: 2:28:00
|THE FEATURE||SPECIAL FEATURES|
|Video||1080p high definition 16x9 2.40:1||High definition|
|Audio||DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1 / Dolby Digital: French 5.1 Spanish 5.1, Portuguese 5.1||Variable|
|Subtitles||English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese,||Variable|
The Feature: 4/5
Cobb and Arthur (Leonardo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt) are most unusual thieves and con men. Able to enter and navigate through a person's dreams, the two men make a living by stealing secrets - often of the corporate and governmental variety - buried deep inside the subconscious. Saito (Ken Watanabe), their latest mark, manages to get the better of them however, no thanks to a less than competent and trustworthy dream architect. Yet despite their failure, they've proved themselves skilled enough that Saito wants them to do a job for him now.
Where most of their assignments have been extractions - getting information out - Saito wants them to do the opposite - plant an idea, or inception. The difficulty is doing it without the subject knowing, making it seem like the idea originated and grew from within. Most - including Arthur - believe it's impossible, but Cobb claims to have done it before, though even he isn't looking for that kind of a challenge. Then Saito makes Cobb an offer he can't refuse - a chance to return home to his children with the record that forced him to flee the country wiped clean.
Willing to do anything to be with his family again, Cobb agrees to the job, hiring on new dream architect Ariadne (Ellen Page), expert forger and grifter Eames (Tom Hardy), and talented chemist Yusuf (Dileep Rao) to complete the team. Their mark is energy tycoon Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), who is poised to control the entire world's energy resources. Getting him to relinquish that power, let alone his father's legacy, will be no easy task, made all the more difficult by Cobb's own troubled past and a secret he can't keep hidden the deeper they go into Fischer's subconscious. Confronting it could lead to a successful inception, but it could also mean Cobb losing all that he knows is real.
The first reviews I read about Christopher Nolan's "Inception" were sharply divided. One complained about the script spoon feeding the answers to the audience, while another said it was challenging to follow but not inaccessible. I found the latter a more accurate reflection of the film. Though at times it's rather heavy with exposition about the shared dream experience and the protagonists' navigation through it, I'm not sure how it could have been avoided given the fantastic and foreign nature of it all. It helps that underneath the intricate details is a rather simple plot as "Inception" is fundamentally a heist movie with all the requisite scenes, from the team members' selection and assembly, to their training and planning, to an unexpected series of setbacks when they go to execute that plan. Of course the dream material makes the film more thought provoking and substantial in the long run, and if not for that piece the film would likely be described with words like "popcorn movie." As it is, it strikes a fine balance between the entertaining and intellectual, giving viewers a familiar, accessible structure but then dressing it up considerably so that it becomes much more. While some might still complain about how much it explains in the end, there's enough left up to the viewer that there's more than enough to discuss once the movie has ended.
Video Quality: 4.5/5
The film is accurately framed at 2.40:1 and presented in 1080p with the VC-1 codec. Black levels are consistently stable and inky and contrast displays the full range of values with no signs of compression. Colors are beautifully saturated with accurate rendering of flesh tones (the delicacy of Page's pale complexion is especially lovely). Detail is excellent, holding up in both close ups and wide shots and in the copious slow motion shots suspending water droplets in the air. Film grain is on the finer side, though grain structure appears intact with no indications of misused noise reduction tools. Likewise overall sharpness looks crisp and film-like with no signs of excessive digital sharpening measures. The one issue - and it's a minor one - is the occasional presence of haloing along high contrast edges.
Audio Quality: 5/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix should please anyone looking for some significant low frequency effects. Whether from the various crashes and explosions or elements of the atmospheric sound design, there's no shortage of clean, room shaking frequencies. High end detail is also excellent, though perhaps overshadowed at times by the strength of things at the other end of the spectrum. Directional and ambient effects are well balanced, providing a seamless experience during scenes like the mountain fortress firefight. Dialogue is consistently clear and intelligible, though the thickness of some accents had me turning on the subtitles to make out what was said.
Special Features: 4/5
Don't expect any definitive answers about the film's ending or even an explanation of how all the dream incursion stuff is supposed to work. Instead what you'll get from the extras are details about the production design and special effects, materials from the marketing effort, and some related - if not particularly revealing - video pieces. I suppose it maintains the film's intrigue by not revealing any deeper, more complex secrets, but a little extra something to chew on would have been appreciated. The isolated film score tracks are a nice touch though, as is the inclusion of the DVD and digital copy.
Extraction Mode (44:13, HD): Viewable as a group or concurrent with the feature though seamless branching, the video featurettes focus primarily on the film's special effects and production design.
- The Inception of Inception (3:23): The inspiration for the film and its key concepts.
- The Japanese Castle: The Dream Is Collapsing (3:32): The design of and effects in the Japanese castle set.
- Disintegration of the Paris Café (3:09): How to make explosions in Paris, with the help of air cannons.
- Constructing Paradoxical Architecture (2:30): How to create Escher-inspired stairways.
- The Freight Train (3:04): How to make a train travel down the middle of a city street.
- Ambush on the City Streets (2:54): The challenges of shooting rain in daylight with stunt sequences.
- The Tilting Bar (2:17): The perils of a moving set.
- The Rotating Corridor (5:01): Creating and shooting in the signature set.
- The Mountain Fortress (3:03): A look at the on-location set in Calgary, Canada.
- Simulating Zero-G (1:36): Techniques used to create zero gravity.
- Limbo: The Design of Unconstructed Dream Space (3:44): Initial concepts behind the dream architect playground and final decisions behind its creation.
- The Fortress Explosion (2:07): Demolishing the mountain set and its 45-foot high miniature.
- The Music of Dreams (4:05): Composing the score and the use of electronic elements, including the electric guitar.
- The Dream-Share (3:43): The collaborative efforts behind the film.
Dreams: Cinema of the Subconscious (44:29, HD): Joseph Gordon-Levitt hosts an exploration of past and current dream research, looking at the work of Sigmund Freud and current experts in the field. Includes interviews with Christopher Nolan and some commentary on the connection of filmmaking to the dream state.
Inception: The Cobol Job (14:33, HD): Motion comic prequel shows how Cobb, Arthur and Nash got involved with Saito extraction. Unlike most motion comics, dialogue and narration remains in text form without voice acting.
Project Somnacin: Confidential Files: Go to BD-Live and tag the Project Somnacin item and emails will be sent to you with links to additional content. The first of them is a redacted document showing parts of how the Dream Share technology functions.
5.1 Inception Soundtrack (38:38): Ten tracks from the film score, presented in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Unfortunately, the feature leaves off two tracks from the CD soundtrack - "Half Remembered Dream" and "Waiting for A Train."
Conceptual Art Gallery (HD): Over 30 images, illustrated in an unconventional painted style, showing various sets and environments. If art prints are available I would be very interested in getting copies.
Promotional Art Archive (HD): About a dozen posters in various formats.
Trailers (HD): Three theatrical trailers from August 24, 2009 (1:03), December 28, 2009 (1:22), and May 12, 2010 (2:24).
TV Spots (HD): Thirteen TV ads titled Characters (2:02), Back to Reality (2:02), Extractor (1:02), Point Man (1:02), Architect (1:02), Simple Idea (:33), Change (:32), The Dream Is Real (:32), The Beginning (:32), Real (:32), Bullet (:32), Wake Me Up (:32), and Ten Hours (:31).
DVD: Watch the feature presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic standard definition video and 384 kbps Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (English only). Subtitles in English SDH, French and Spanish.
Digital Copy: Download the feature for playback on portable devices. At the time of review the link was not yet active.
The Feature: 4/5
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 5/5
Special Features: 4/5
Overall Score (not an average): 4/5
Warner Home Video turns in an excellent audio and video presentation for Christopher Nolan's mind bending heist film. The special features package is solid in terms of going behind the scenes, but is disappointing for not exploring further the dream and psychological concepts presented in the film.