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Inception (Blu-ray Review)

At least once a year I go into a theatrical viewing and unexpectedly walk out a changed man.  Why?  It’s all a result of the movie going experience.  It’s either something so radically new, something I wasn’t expecting or something so revolutionary and out there that I am metaphorically b#tch slapped across the face and made to pay attention out of sheer desire, not contempt.  For example, in 2008 I had my Dark Knight phase and in 2009 I found myself lost, fascinated and mesmerized within the world of Avatar that James Cameron so artistically crafted and captivated by the non-stop laughs, gags and classic one-liners that only The Hangover can deliver. In retrospect, the calendar year 2010 began like a slow weight loss program (not sure if those pounds would ever drop off), but it wasn’t before long that the envelope was truly pushed and I was stunned about how much I cared and passionately adored the animated feature, How To Train Your Dragon.  And just when I thought nothing would beat out my beloved Dragon this year, the warm summer month of July fell upon us and it was then that my world was turned upside down and shaken.

I had a very strong feeling (one with the Force) that Christopher Nolan was carefully brewing something truly special after the Dark Knight, but just how special, I had really no idea until I took that fateful trip down the rabbit hole that I like to affectionately call Inception.  And I never looked back…that is until I saw it again in XD and finally on Blu-ray last night, an experience I have been anxiously waiting six months for.  This ladies and gentleman is the Blu-ray review of the insanely complex, but ridiculously simple and brilliant world of Nolan’s Inception.  Are you ready to go under?  I don’t want anyone to steal your ideas.  How do you know you’re already not in a dream?  You don’t.  But take a look at me.  I’m opening the briefcase right now.  And here we go…

Film

Silence.  You can hear a pin drop.  Tension.  Everyone is on the edge of his or her seat.  Suspension.  What’s going to happen next?  Thrilling.  Don’t dare take your eyes off the screen as every moment is of grave importance.  Such was the atmosphere within the theater during my initial press screening for Christopher Nolan’s, now deemed masterpiece, Inception.  I have to admit; during that screening I noticed there was something really different about the viewing experience.  There was no jibber jabber.  There was no popcorn chewing.  There were no annoying candy wrappers being ripped open.  There were no cell phones ringing.  Nothing.  Inception captivated the crowd.   And rightfully so!

Let me ask you all a question.  However, I guess by now this mostly pertains to the minority of folks out there reading this that have never seen Inception yet.  But hey, what better way to experience this film for the first time than on the Blu-ray format?  Anyway, are you ready for an original thriller so deep and mesmerizing that it will literally blow your mind and rock your world?  If that’s a hell yes, than look no further than Inception, an easy sure-win, thus far, for my movie of the year selection (considering we have less than a month to go and I don’t think I will fall head over heals for Tron Legacy, but we shall see).  Congratulations, you have chosen the red pill.  If you answered no to my question, then you probably already picked up your copy of Twilight: Eclipse on DVD at Wal-Mart this past Friday night.  Take the blue pill, don’t pass go, pop that abomination of a movie in and stop reading this immediately!  I don’t want you here.

Inception was Christopher Nolan’s return to the silver screen after his blockbuster hit The Dark Knight in 2008.  My god!  The sci-fi action thriller written, produced and directed by Nolan (the man wears all three hats… he is the new King… Lebron James who?) stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watannabe, Joseph GordonLevitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Tom Berenger, Dileep Rao, Michael Caine and more.   Interestingly enough, the script was pitched to Warner Bros. in 2001, but they felt he needed experience making larger scale films first, hence Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.  In addition, Nolan finally got the chance to work with DiCaprio, an actor he has been trying to secure for years.  Leo signed on after being intrigued by the script.  See what a good screenplay can do for you folks?  It really can make “dreams” come true.  One other thing to note in this production paragraph is the film’s score.  Once again, Hans Zimmer helms and crafts a powerful soundtrack that will keep you riveted throughout, much like his addictive score in The Dark Knight.  Gotta love this guy!

I don’t believe in spoilers and I debated about this for days much like the number of drafts Blu-ray.com reviewer, Kenneth Brown, wrote before finally deciding on his final plot related paragraph (see here).  There truly is no good way to deliver the plot here without spoiling some things for the peeps that did not see this flick.  In fact, I remained spoiler free before seeing this feature over the summer.  I had a strong gut feeling (that Force thing again) and knew this film would be both epic and monumental.  I had my faith in Nolan, but for once in my life I wanted to be surprised and not know anything about the movie.  My expectations were very high, but for once in my life they were exceeded (I’m not sure what happened to Gregg Senko’s outing and why he did not like it).  Actually, overjoyed, is a term that comes to mind when describing how I first felt coming out of the theater from seeing Inception and is a word I still use today after every subsequent viewing.  I just love this film and I honestly can’t get enough of it.  I heard a rumor the other day about a potential sequel, and I honestly think I would be all over that just like attacking a chicken burrito at Chipotle (unless I’m with Gerard Iribe).

Ever have a dream?  Of course, you did, even my dog dreams.  You know that feeling you have where you are falling and you abruptly wake up?  Well that’s referred to as kick.  Remember that, okay?  Ever think it’s possible to experience a dream that happens within a dream?  Well, I can’t ever recall doing so, but I can definitely imagine it being possible.  It doesn’t sound too far fetch.  Now, try this one on for size.  Do you think it is possible to have a dream, experience another dream within that original dream and are you okay with me taking it a level deeper?  Good.  What about a third dream within the second dream that’s still happening within the first dream?  Sounds complex huh?  Such is the world of Inception.  Not only were my eyes glued to the screen throughout my initial viewing of this feature, but also I sat there speechless in thought.  How did Nolan ever craft this on paper?  And to tell you the truth, once I got my hands on Nolan’s screenplay I studied it intensely and you know what?  It’s so simple that it’s stupid.  Nolan crafts such interesting characters that we care so much about that we totally forget about how ridiculous this plot really is and all the logistical challenges that would really happen trying to pull something like this off in real life.  It wouldn’t be possible.  Or would it?  Nolan refers to this as a caper/heist movie and I’m hear to tell you that he took that genre and knocked the walls down as he obliterated all boundaries to make the genre his own.  Brilliant man!  I want to be his understudy.

So what’s Inception all about?  Let’s just say there are some men that will go to any lengths to steal from you.  You can have as many alarms and bodyguards as money permits, but are you truly ever really safe?  I mean, is your mind safe from thieves?  Think about this for one moment.  What if I was able to go in to your mind and trick you into giving me the combination of the safe behind the painting on the wall?  When you wake up and I am not there you would just think you were having a bad dream, right?  Welcome to the world of Inception.  Now let’s take it one step further before we move onto the Blu-ray disc vitals.  Ready?  What if I had the ability to go into your dream, your sub-consciousness, and plant an idea in your head that when you wake up you will think you thought of.  Do you think that idea will stick?  You better believe it will.  Again, welcome to the world of Inception.

While The Dark Knight remains my favorite Nolan film, but only because of Heath Ledger’s legendary portrayal of the Joker, Inception is a very close second.  I don’t think you will come across a film this year that is more thought provoking in a fun way than this and still riveting at the same time.  I’m not as foolish as Cavs owner Danny Gilbert to tell you to take that to the bank, but I’m willing to give you good odds against the chance of that happening.  I’m going to recommend you drop everything you are doing today, pre-order this title (currently only $17.99 on Amazon) and be ready to spend the next 2.5 hours of your life experiencing something that is larger than all of us… Inception.  But first thing’s first…let’s take a look at why we’re really all here…the Blu-ray disc vitals.

Video  

I never really had any doubt that the video transfer here would be as near perfect as the film itself.  Warner Bros. brings Inception to the Blu-ray format with an exceptional 1080p VC-1 video codec transfer, presented in a mind-blowing aspect ratio of 2.40:1.  It’s as beautiful as I remember seeing it on the big XD screen this summer.  Intricate objects abound and set pieces are all razor sharp while black levels are as deep as a closed closet with monsters lurking within the darkness.  Skin tones all appear normal with a tad of hot contrast here and there, but nothing to fill out a complaint form over.   From a technical standpoint, you will be hard pressed to find anything wrong with this.  There’s no noise, no intrusive grain and not even a speckle to be found.  It’s P-E-R-F-E-C-T.  This is yet another Nolan film that truly defines what a Blu-ray experience should look like.  Nolan’s dreamscape is perfectly rendered and reproduced here and I challenge anyone foolish enough to say otherwise.

Audio  

Inception’s DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track may be one of the best of the year.  I don’t remember the last time I was this immersed while enjoying a Blu-ray presentation.  Instead of my usual Blu-ray review note taking I just sat back and had a blast with this one.  The overwhelming LFE output is sonically off the charts here.  I turned this one up just so I could feel and hear ever rumble and believe me, this track exceedingly roars.  If you don’t believe me, just ask my parents who jumped every time an object in my room toppled over from the bass track.  Boom!  Boom!  The rears are alive with the sound of music (Hans Zimmer’s score), bullets spraying and anything else you can imagine (or dream).  Nolan’s soundtrack does not take a front seat here, not at all.  Everything you see on screen is intricately reproduced all around you as you go deeper and deeper into Nolan’s dreamscape.  And through it all, despite all the highs and lows, dialogue is never lost in the sound field.  In the beginning scene, I struggled ever so slightly with Ken Watannabe’s lines, but once this adventure kicked into full gear, I never had any more problems whatsoever.  Once again, this presentation is what Blu-ray dreams are made of.

Special Features  

Upon Inception’s arrival on the Blu-ray format, the film is given Warner’s Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo pack treatment.  Given that it’s a 3-disc set one would logically deduce that it’s a Blu-ray, DVD and a Digital Copy (on a separate DVD) found within the package, but that’s not the case here.  Instead, the movie finds it home very cozy on the first BD-50 disc while the remainder of the special features are all divvied up in HD (God bless you Warner) across the second BD-50 disc.  The DVD is just that, a DVD version of the film (boo).  The Digital Copy, however, must be downloaded from Warner’s website with the appropriate download code found within the case.  At the time of this writing, I was unable to download the Digital Copy.  It probably goes live this Tuesday, at which time you can be sure I’ll grab it.  So let’s take a closer look at all the High-Definition treasures the Inception Blu-ray Combo Pack has to offer us.

  • Extraction Mode (Disc 1, HD) – You would think that a film of this caliber would have at least an audio commentary track.  Much like the Dark Knight Blu-ray release, an audio commentary is sorely missing here.  Instead, we have an Extraction Mode.  What is an Extraction Mode?  Well that’s a very good question.  Instead of watching the movie with a P-I-P track the scenes in question are played in their entirety and then a full-screen featurette is launched as Nolan and gang go behind the scenes to shed light on the secrets of Inception.  You can expect the typical “making of “kind of approach, but nonetheless, its all uber cool.   I mean c’mon, it has to be…after all…it’s Inception.  Interestingly enough, I thought I should also point out that each of these featurettes (approximately 45 minutes long) can also be accessed from the disc’s main menu without even launching the Extraction Mode.  I like that!
  • Dreams: Cinema of the Subconscious (Disc 2, HD, 44:29) – My boy, Joseph Gordon Levitt, hosts this one.  It’s a cool documentary on the science of dreams, which manages to include views and input from various doctors, professors, authors, and other sleep related experts.
  • Inception: The Cobol Job (Disc 2, HD,14:33) – Here’s the one I was really looking forward to.  Consider this the prequel to Inception as we find out through a Motion Comic format just how Cobb, Arthur and Nash began working for Cobol Engineering.  C’mon!  You know you want to see this one!  I love these Motion Comics!
  • 5.1 Soundtrack Selections from Hans Zimmer’s Versatile Score (Disc 2, HD, 38:38) – If you like to listen to music and stare at a blank black screen, then you came to the right place.  LOL.  Other than that, you know the musical selections here have to be exceptional coming from composer Hans Zimmer so just sit back and enjoy this tasty treat.
  • Conceptual Art (Disc 2, HD) – Here are some samples of concept art and pre-production designs.
  • Promotional Art (Disc 2, HD) – Here you can browse the film’s different international and domestic theatrical posters.
  • Trailer/TV Spot Galleries (Disc 2, HD) – A teaser trailer, 2 full theatrical trailers and various TV spots can be found here.
  • Project Somnacin: Confidential Files (HD) – Using the BD-Live portal you can access highly secure files that reveal the inception of the dream-share technology.
  • DVD Copy (SD) – This is essentially a drink coaster to use while enjoying the Blu-ray presentation of the film.
  • Digital Copy (SD) – This must be downloaded from Warner’s website with the included code found inside the Blu-ray Combo Pack case.  It will work with either Windows Media Player or the superior Apple iTunes.

Final Thoughts  

Make no mistake people; this one is a MUST-OWN for your home Blu-ray video collection.  There should be no questions asked.  Sure the Special Features are not as robust and abundant as many would like, but so what?  Were you really buying this one for the Special Features, anyway?  I sure the hell hope not.  The correct answer to my rhetorical question should be hell no.  You are buying this to be blown away by stunning HD visuals, immersive HD audio and a storyline like no one else has ever conceived before.  Welcome to the Blu-ray world of Christopher Nolan’s Inception.  Buckle up and enjoy the ride!  Oh what a ride it is!

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Inception awakens on Blu-ray December 7thPre-order today!

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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

10 Responses to “Inception (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    The awesome briefcase set shipped to me over the weekend. Can’t wait to watch it again and again. I wish the score feature was more than a blank screen. And I hope Nolan does another Blu-Ray live event, like with the Dark Knight.

  2. Gerard Iribe

    Great review, Brian!

    My briefcase set is on its way.

  3. Sean Ferguson

    I saw this movie twice in the theaters and really enjoyed it both times. It’s one of those movies you can keep re-watching to catch things you might have missed before. This Blu-ray is high on my wish list! Those briefcase sets look really cool, but since I’ve already got the Blade Runner briefcase I think I’ll just get the Blu-ray this time.

  4. Brian White

    Thanks guys!

    So I’m curious…what is in this briefcase set, exactly?

  5. Aaron Neuwirth

    Many awesome things.

    -Metal Briefcase with “Inception” engraved on the outside and a production number in the foam on the inside.
    – Cobb’s spinning totem (which spins for a very long time)
    – The Cobal Job Mini Comic
    – A set of mini posters of all the characters
    – Instruction on how to work the Dream device for the briefcase
    – The Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Copy pack.

  6. Gregg Senko

    I liked the credits.

  7. Brian White

    Awesome! Now I want that Aaron. Are there still some available? How much do they cost?

  8. Aaron Neuwirth

    As many have already sadly found out, this was an extremely limited item. Gerard is importing from the UK, but I doubt you’re going to find one for a reasonable price at this point.

  9. Brian White

    Oh that’s okay. Just wishful thinking. No biggee! The movie is the most important treasure here. Don’t you think, Gregg? 🙂

  10. Aaron Neuwirth

    Watched Extraction Mode last night, very cool indeed. Nolan isn’t one for commentaries anymore. I think he started to fall in Spielberg’s camp of not wanting to reveal too much from behind the curtain. That being said, the amount of material we do get regarding this film’s production was pretty cool to see; especially the hallway fight scene and its construction.