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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Inception



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#1 of 50 Cameron Yee

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Posted December 02 2010 - 04:51 PM

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Inception
Release Date: December 7, 2010
Studio: Warner Home Video
Packaging/Materials: Three-disc Blu-ray case with slipcover
Year: 2010
Rating: R
Running Time: 2:28:00
MSRP: $35.99

  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.


Recap
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.


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#2 of 50 peterjanni

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Posted December 02 2010 - 05:13 PM

I checked out bestbuy canada's website and they have an exclusive version of inception which includes the shooting script for $3 more and they're also listing a midnight opening, which I think has more to do with the new Warcraft game.  Lining up with warcraft fans scares me.


#3 of 50 Adam Gregorich

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Posted December 02 2010 - 06:37 PM

Nice review Cameron.  I'm impressed by your spoiler free description of the film.  I don't always go through the special features, but I will on this title when it arrives.



 Lining up with warcraft fans scares me.  

 Funniest thing I have ready today!  Welcome to Home Theater Forum Peter!



#4 of 50 AlexS2

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Posted December 03 2010 - 01:00 AM

Very nice review! Your thoughts on the movie are pretty close to mine as well.


I think the thing I am looking forward to the most on this release is simply blasting Hans Zimmer's score. I may end up getting more use out of the 5.1 soundtrack feature than I will of the actual movie!



#5 of 50 Jason_V

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Posted December 03 2010 - 02:35 AM

If I have my info right, Inception is going to be a steal next week.  It was always on my "to get when the price comes down" list.  It's now on my "no brainer next week" list.  I'm most intrigued by the inclusion of the soundtrack.  We don't see those very often anymore.


Thanks Cameron!



#6 of 50 Shane D

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Posted December 03 2010 - 03:40 AM

 you should be ok, any hardcore warcraft fan should have already prebought the digital download and will be playing at midnight ;)



#7 of 50 ChadMcCallum

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Posted December 03 2010 - 05:34 AM

Future Shop is offering a Steel book version for around $3 more, according to the newest flyer.



Originally Posted by peterjanni 

I checked out bestbuy canada's website and they have an exclusive version of inception which includes the shooting script for $3 more and they're also listing a midnight opening, which I think has more to do with the new Warcraft game.  Lining up with warcraft fans scares me.





#8 of 50 joshEH

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Posted December 03 2010 - 07:41 AM

Amazon tells me that my copy's already getting prepped for shipment -- I have "Release-Day Delivery" for it, which means I might be getting this as soon as Monday.


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#9 of 50 Steve Tannehill

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Posted December 03 2010 - 07:56 AM

Looks like Best Buy has an $18.99 single-disc blu-ray that Amazon does not carry. They also have a BB exclusive edition for $5 more than the $24.99 3-disc pack (no word on what is exclusive about it). As for me, Amazon shipped my 3-disc pack this afternoon.

#10 of 50 joshEH

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Posted December 03 2010 - 10:55 AM

Yeah, just got a shipment-tracking notice from Amazon about an hour ago. One guy I know spotted copies in a NYC store earlier this week for $18.99 apiece (the three-disc BD combo-pack version).


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#11 of 50 Jason Adams

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Posted December 03 2010 - 11:03 AM



Originally Posted by Steve Tannehill 

Looks like Best Buy has an $18.99 single-disc blu-ray that Amazon does not carry. They also have a BB exclusive edition for $5 more than the $24.99 3-disc pack (no word on what is exclusive about it).

As for me, Amazon shipped my 3-disc pack this afternoon.


Comes with a book of the shooting script.



#12 of 50 Neil Middlemiss

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Posted December 03 2010 - 04:41 PM

Amazon has the 3-disc version for just 17.99 now (I ordered mine as soon as the price hit that low!)


http://www.amazon.co...m/dp/B002ZG981E


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#13 of 50 Brian Borst

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Posted December 04 2010 - 05:22 AM

Not that I'm complaining (since soundtracks often aren't included on Blu-ray sets to begin with) but why isn't the entire soundtrack included? We're still missing about twelve minutes (two tracks) that aren't included. If you go through the trouble of making a 5.1 mix, why don't include everything?

Anyway, I blindly bought it, and I'm very curious about this movie. I've never seen it in theaters, for some reason (odd that you somehow miss movies you really want to see when they're released) but Christopher Nolan hasn't disappointed me yet.


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#14 of 50 Cameron Yee

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Posted December 04 2010 - 06:00 AM

Good point Brian. I've updated the review to note the two tracks not included.


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#15 of 50 Steve Tannehill

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Posted December 04 2010 - 08:08 AM



Originally Posted by Neil Middlemiss 

Amazon has the 3-disc version for just 17.99 now (I ordered mine as soon as the price hit that low!)


http://www.amazon.co...m/dp/B002ZG981E


Good, then their preorder price guarantee should correct the $24.99 price once street date is here.


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#16 of 50 Ronald Epstein

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Posted December 04 2010 - 01:49 PM

Yeah, great price.  I preordered it at $24.99 so I look
forward to the $7.00 credit.

Never saw this film theatrically.  Some say it is very

difficult to follow.  I plan to drink plenty of caffeine and

stay alert as possible throughout.


Will report back in a few days.


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#17 of 50 Ron-P

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Posted December 04 2010 - 06:49 PM

I was planning on just renting it, but at $17.99 I pre-ordered. Like Ron, I never saw this but my daughter did, she's 13 and she loved it. I look forward to seeing this, hopefully it's worth the $18 I just spent.


I don't buy much, especially blind anymore, and rent most everything first but from what I've read and family feedback I should like this.


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#18 of 50 Cory S.

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Posted December 04 2010 - 10:05 PM

Ron,


It's not confusing.  You have to pay attention and if you do,  you'll be fine.  It's pretty straightforward.  It's just that there's A LOT of information.


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#19 of 50 AlexS2

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Posted December 05 2010 - 04:33 AM



Originally Posted by Cory S. 

Ron,


It's not confusing.  You have to pay attention and if you do,  you'll be fine.  It's pretty straightforward.  It's just that there's A LOT of information.


Yeah my opinion of it is that, really, it is pretty straight forward, but I think confusion comes from sometimes the exposition getting really clunky (I think Nolan might have overdid it to a point where stuff actually becomes LESS clear), and as the movie goes on, the pace just gets really, really frantic and it can get a bit tough to follow everything that is going on (plus the music will often totally drown out the dialogue, at least in theaters!)


But other than that, its an awesome ride and worth the trouble to keep up with the details



#20 of 50 Brian Borst

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Posted December 05 2010 - 06:35 AM

I watched this today, and I thought it was absolutely incredible. It's not terribly confusing, if you just pay attention, but after seeing many mindless action movies this was a revelation. The acting was great, the special effects were seamless (I won't say 'invisible, because most are hard to do in live-action) and all of the other aspects were good too. I don't have any complaints about the Blu-ray either. The picture was good, and the audio gave my subwoofer a very good workout. About the supplements, sure, I'd like to see many hours of features, but if a director prefers a different approach, then I'm not one to complain.


And I think I know why those two tracks were deleted from the soundtrack portion of the Blu-ray. Those tracks happen to include samples from Edith Piaf's 'Non Je Ne Regrette Rien', and probably had to be licensed again for inclusion on the Blu-ray, which Warner didn't want. Too bad, because those tracks are awesome, but I still have them on CD.


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