Saturday, December 4, 2010

Blu Ray Review: Inception (2010)

148 minutes
rated PG-13
Available from WHV on Tuesday, Decmber 7th on DVD, Blu Ray, OnDemand, and Download.

By Scott Mendelson

For the original theatrical review, go HERE.
For thoughts on the second viewing of the film, go HERE.

If it needs to be said, Inception looks and sounds splendid on Blu Ray (and it looks pretty sharp on DVD too, since said Blu Ray package comes with a DVD/Digital Copy third disc). The audio sounded razor-sharp even on my non-existent audio set-up (when you have a three-year old sleeping in the next room over, surround sound is a waste of money and space). So the big question regards the supplemental package. As has been the case with most new releases from Warner Bros. over the last few years, it's a case of 'the least you can do'. There's shockingly little meat to what's on the disc, and shockingly little documentary/behind the scenes material. And, similarly to The Dark Knight Blu Ray, the making-of material plays less like a genuine 'here's how we made the movie' than a glorified 'for your consideration' Oscar highlight reel.

The big feature is a PiP Bonus View mode, called 'Extraction Mode'. This can be played either during the film (which makes the film run 190 minutes) or separately (where the featurettes total 44 minutes). The content is basically a checklist of purely technical 'here's how we did that', covering special effects, art direction, sound design, sound editing, cinematography, and the score. What's there is moderately interesting (the featurettes on the zero-gravity scenes are fun), but they don't deal at all with things like story, script, character, and themes. The bits go into so little story detail that they are almost spoiler-free. Again, there is 44 minutes of documentary content, but most of it barely rises above the level of an EPK.

The rest of the slim pickings are on disc two. The second major bonus feature, and easily the best, is a 45-minute documentary, "Dreams: Cinema of the Subconscious", covering the scientific nature of dreaming itself. This is a terrific look at how we dream, why we dream, and the various theories behind pretty much everything dream-related. Aside from occasional appearances from Joseph Gorden-Levitt and a few interview clips with Chris Nolan and Leonardo DiCaprio, it has nothing to do with Inception (and in fact, it weakens the film by highlighting how little Nolan really dealt with dreams beyond gimmickry). But it is a terrific little piece of stand-alone documentary work and is worth watching once or twice.

There are three trailers (running about 5 minutes), 13 TV spots (running about 11 minutes), the entirety of the Inception score in 5.1 (which runs about 39 minutes). We get two galleries (12 poster concepts and about 30 pieces of concept art) and some BD-Live material that I had trouble accessing. Finally we get a 14 minute motion-comic 'The Cabol Job' that serves as a prologue for the feature itself and was available online about a week after the film opened. It's actually a pretty solid bit of back story, but it also serves to remove much of the mystery and 'drop you in the deep end' wonder of the film's exceptional opening reel (IE - don't watch it before you see the film). That's about 122 minutes of video-based supplements and about 42 minutes of audio and still gallery-based material. There's plenty to see, but only the Dreams documentary holds any real weight.

There is also a BD-Live feature called 'Snap a Tag to Unlock the Dream'. Basically, if you snap a picture of the spinning top found on the box and text it to 95871, you get BD-Live based bonus material, leading up to 'the final reward' (yeah, that sounds like a death threat to me too) on December 7th. I couldn't care less about this kind of gimmickry, but Warner asked me to mention it, so here's the YouTube video.

Anyway, Inception looks and sounds absolutely sparkling on this Blu Ray set, but the supplemental package leaves a bit to be desired, with most of it recycled from previously available material (the score, the trailers, the motion-comic). Still, if you want to own Inception, this Blu Ray is the way to go until the inevitable 5-year anniversary special edition.

Video: A Audio: A Extras: C

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