New on DVD/Blu-ray: Inception (2010)

How do you top a film like “The Dark Knight”, which made an obscene amount of money and was both a critical and commercial juggernaut? If you’re Christopher Nolan, you write and direct a trippy sci-fi action/thriller that you’ve been thinking about and plotting for years, and which takes place inside the fertile minds of man’s dreams. And thanks to the resources of a major Hollywood studio, the dreams can be as vivid and amazingly complex as Nolan can imagine it. Re-live Nolan’s dream world and wonder all over again if Cobb really got out when “Inception” arrives on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand, and for Download from Warner Home Video on December 7, 2010.

Acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan directs an international cast in this sci-fi actioner that travels around the globe and into the world of dreams. Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is the best there is at extraction: stealing valuable secrets inside the subconscious during the mind’s vulnerable dream state. His skill has made him a coveted player in industrial espionage but also has made him a fugitive and cost him dearly. Now he may get a second chance if he can do the impossible: inception, planting an idea rather than stealing one. If they succeed, Cobb and his team could pull off the perfect crime. But no planning or expertise can prepare them for a dangerous enemy that seems to predict their every move. An enemy only Cobb could have seen coming.

Movie Review:

“Inception” stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Cobb, an American fugitive in Europe. Cobb has a very specific skill set: using a newfangled device, he can enter a person’s dream and manipulate them into revealing closely guarded secrets. His latest client is Saito (Ken Watanabe), an industrialist who hires Cobb to invade the dreams of one Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy) and plant an idea that will lead Fischer towards a very specific path. Instead of his usual “extraction”, Cobb will have to implement an “inception”. A daunting task, but Saito promises to make it worth Cobb’s while, offering a ticket home and back to his children as reward.

To accomplish the mission, Cobb assembles an elite group of accomplices, each one with skills vital to the success of the planned inception: his partner Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Eames (Tom Hardy), the doctor Yusuf (Dileep Rao), and newcomer Ariadne (Ellen Page), who must create the architect within the dream where Cobb and company will ply their trade. But there are complications; namely Mal (Marion Cotillard), Cobb’s deceased wife, whose continued presence threatens to disrupt the mission unless Cobb comes to terms with the past that made him a fugitive in the first place.

Let’s get it out of the way first: Christopher Nolan knows how to choreograph the crap out of his movies. From the intricate storyline to the overly complex “dream within a dream within a dream” final Third Act, “Inception” proves without a shadow of a doubt that Nolan is a master of choreography and plotting. The more complex things get, the more the man seems to thrive. Nothing bears this out more than the film’s lengthy Third Act, where the many levels of dreams start getting so stacked that you’ll need a score card to keep track of where everyone is at any given time.

Coming off the runaway success of “The Dark Knight”, Nolan could have made a movie about a guy shopping for groceries, and Warner Bros. would have still demanded that he take their $200 million to shoot it. Instead of resting on his laurels, though, Nolan has dove head-first into another challenging movie, both in terms of writing and production. It many ways, “Inception” could have been made for a fraction of its budget, but of course the presence of Hollywood money allows Nolan to craft some out-of-this-world visual treats. But it’s to Nolan’s credit that you could take away all the folding buildings and other visual razzle dazzles and the film would still be strong enough from a purely narrative and character aspect to survive unscathed. It’s just that with the huge budget, “Inception” also gets the added benefit of looking spectacular to boot.

The acting, led by Leonardo DiCaprio, is excellent across the board, with particularly Tom Hardy stealing every scene he’s in. No wonder Hollywood is falling all over themselves to get this guy signed to a franchise or two, or three. The visual presentation is outstanding throughout, and the phrase, “The money is all on the screen” comes to mind. “Inception” also proves that a film can have amazing action and still be considered “smart”. Now that it’s arriving on DVD and Blu-ray, you’ll have plenty of time to scrutinize every level of dreams in the movie, then do it all over again, and again, and perhaps finally answer the question: “So, did Cobb get out, or not?” From what I’ve heard, Nolan isn’t talking.

Special Features:

The Blu-ray Combo Pack comes with a holographic cover using the folding buildings from the movie. On the inside, you get the film in standard DVD, Blu-ray, digital copy, and an entire disc dedicated entirely to special features, though “Extraction Mode” is on the Blu-ray. The boxcover also comes with a Snap-A-Tag pic in the lower right corner (see pic, right). Snap a picture of Cobb’s totem with your cellphone and send it to the number as directed and you’ll get special video content in response. I got one with Joseph Gordon-Levitt which I believe is from the “Dreams: Cinemas of the Subconscious” featurette.

  • Extraction Mode: 3 hrs. 10 mins. Watch the film with Extraction Mode turned on and the movie will pause and jump to behind-the-scenes features at appropriate intervals. Obviously you should watch the entire movie through first, because all the stopping and wealth of information from the mini-features can get a bit overwhelming. For fans of Nolan and his works, this is simply great stuff, as it gives you a fantastic look into the making of the film from every conceivable angle. If you thought the world Nolan created onscreen was complicated, try actually seeing the behind-the-scenes stuff. The film doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the thought that Nolan put into the idea behind “Inception”. Really, really great stuff. In all, there are 44:13 mins. worth of “extraction mode” mini-features.
  • Dreams: Cinema of the Subconscious: 44:29 mins. Hosted by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the feature explores the nature of dreams, and what exactly it means to dream, and whether our dreams are actually a parallel reality that exists alongside our “real life”. It’s pretty interesting stuff and worth a watch, though obviously do so with an open mind or else you’ll just have wasted 44 minutes of your life for nothing.
  • Inception: The Cobol Job: 14:33 mins. “Motion” comic prologue that reveals how Cobb, Arthur, and Nash were recruited to extract information from Ken Watanabe’s Saito. I grew up on comic books and have boxes and boxes of them stored somewhere around the house, but I don’t think I’ll ever get used to “watching” comic books. I mean, if you’re going to make “drawings” move onscreen, why not just, you know, do an animated movie with voice actors instead of forcing me to read word balloons? Just saying.

Also:

  • 5.1 soundtrack selections from Hans Zimmer’s versatile score
  • Conceptual art, promotional art, and trailer/TV spot galleries
  • Via BD-Live: Project Somnacin–Confidential Files: Access highly secure files that reveal the inception of the dream-share technology

Buy “Inception” on DVD and Blu-ray Combo Pack from Warner Home Video.