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“Inception" - {Blu-ray} - (Wayne)
Wayne Klein
Studio: Warner Brothers
Release Date:
Special Features:

PIP "Extraction Mode", documentary on dreams, in motion comic prequel, galleries, DVD version of the movie, digital copy Rated: PG-13


I can imagine Chris Nolan as a child sitting at the table and working with a puzzle. It's not the completion of the puzzle that matters to young Chris nor the whole picture but the process of putting the puzzle together. He wants to see how it all connects and, in the process, try and extract some meaning from it. Nolan's film "Inception" much like "The Prestige" allows us to see Nolan sitting at a much bigger table tackling a much bigger puzzle with some truly unusual pieces. While the whole picture he presents may not always grab our attention watching how he makes it all fit together and watching him work out the logic of the puzzle may be puzzling in itself, when we watch Nolan tackle and complete it THAT by itself is both impressive and interesting. It's like walking through a hedge maze with someone who has figured out the way--WE may be lost at times but as long as we keep our leader in sight we know that we're in good hands and we'll get out even if we don't always have a solid grasp of the bigger picture. ***

Chris Nolan tackles some dark and stormy themes as part of his exceptional science fiction thriller "Inception" reminding us why he's one of the most talented and challenging mainstream film directors. Cobb (DeCaprio) leads a team involved in corporate espionage invading the minds of others taking their ideas for his employers. After one deal goes bad he gets an unusual offer from Saito (Watanabe); Saito wants Cobb and his team to plant an idea in the mind of Robert Fischer (Murphy) that will give Saito's company an advantage in the marketplace. Cobb knows the risks though as Inception can rarely be done and pulled off but he has his own motive pushing him to succeed; Cobb wants to be able to come home to America and see his children again after being on the run for years. ***

Anchored by a strong, complex performance by DeCaprio and his supporting cast, "Inception" would seem doomed to failure simply because of the mulitple plot strands that weave around each other in the film. Nolan has accomplished a rare and unique feat (that he's managed to pull off before but not with such a complex narrative); he has created a summer blockbuster film with a brain and a heart that also has all the muscles of an action thriller. He may occasionally almost miss catching one of the many balls that he is juggling but the deft exposition of the film in the first half (and using the clever plot device of having Page play a novice to the team allowing us to learn at the same time about how the team operates) and action packed second half more than make up for any slip in the storytelling illusion that Nolan pulls off here. ***

As a thriller "Inception" has more in common with "Insomnia", "Memento" and "The Prestige" than it does with "Batman Begins", "The Dark Knight" or even Nolan's first film "Following". He takes all the lessons he's learned from those films and puts them to excellent use here crafting a film that constantly keeps the audience on its toes even in the conclusion of the film which leaves the resolution open to interpretation. ---

Image & Sound:

As with all of Nolan's films, "Inception" looks marvelous with a distinct look to each "layer" of the film. It's pretty amazing what Nolan creates visually in collaboration with his director of photography considering that he is color blind. The Blu-ray receives an equally strong presentation here as it did in theaters. Colors pop with a distinct visual style for each level of the dream a challenge for both audiences and the production team. The transfer looks amazingly sharp with a crisp, detailed transfer that has very good depth. I didn't see any hint of edge enhancement nor did I see any other digital flaws aside from occasional digital noise that cropped up and that was relatively minor. ***

The audio is equally impressive with a lossless audio transfer, nice use of the surround speakers to create the environment of the film.

Special Features:

Watching the extras in the "Extraction Mode" is probably the best way to experience the extras included on the Blu-ray. The option allows one to watch the film while watching the various extras like Nolan who appears in a picture-in-picture special feature providing a nice companion piece to the film itself. I wouldn't watch it this way the very first time of course. You can watch the special features separately as well. There are long periods where the "Extraction Mode" doesn't have anything though so be prepared--you might find yourself drawn back into the movie only to be extracted again by having it pop up. Nolan doesn't explain the meaning (he leaves that up the individual viewer much as we interpret our own dreams) but does discuss the techniques about HOW he acheived many of the impressive effects of the movie (yes, Nolan uses CGI but he doesn't use it as his MAIN tool like a lot of directors might but as one of many preferring where possible to use onset physical effects where possible. ***

We get one documentary on the making of the film that veer off into interesting, different and sometimes challenging directions much like the film itself. "Dreams: Cinema of the Subconscious" features actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt as host of a sometimes trippy examination of the subject bringing in a variety of folks from experts on dreaming to Nolan tying it back into the film itself. It runs just under 45 minutes. ***

We also get a prequel that explains why Cobb is on the run with "The Cobol Job" running just under 15 minutes. This motion comic is a nice background piece for those who must know everything and can't take it on faith as to why Cobb was on the run from Cobol and how it forced him into Saito's waiting arms. ***

BD-Live material is represented by Project Somnacin: The Confidential Files and we get a generous amount of pre-production artwork and promotional artwork. The extras are rounded out by the trailers and TV ads. All of these special features are presented in HD. -

Final Words:

Christopher Nolan wrote and directed one of the most challenging thrillers of the summer. I hope that the film does well so that Hollywood doesn't continue to force feed us the mindless drivel dumped on us during the summer. Unlike most film directors Nolan doesn't want to give us all the answers which, perhaps, is a good thing. Again, it's not about the picture that the puzzle forms by itself but the connection we may with the puzzle as we try and figure out what the process reveals about the story as well as what the story truly means. ***

Chris Nolan has often been accused (like Stanley Kubrick) of creating films that have no heart, no soul and that focuses on the intellect only but if you dig beneath the surface you will find that the film does have a heart and soul. Nolan manages to plant a smart, stylish thriller in theaters just as it looked as if we would be facing a limbo of dry, empty thrillers without no heart and no soul. ***

Highly recommended.


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