Inception (2010) Blu-ray

Is Blu-ray Your Way?

This is my second review of Inception.  I am revisiting the film after a rather scathing review – read Inception a.k.a Exposition, Above the Line July 10th, 2011 – because I received a Blu-ray edition from Warner Bros. as a Blu-ray Elite team member and in exchange for a complimentary copy I am asked to review it.  First let me say there’s plenty to revisit here and I intend to do just that.  I invite you to read my original review before or after this one.  It’s interesting just how much there is to say about Inception.

Christopher Nolan’s dreamscape epic makes a helluva Blu-ray.  It jumps off the screen, perhaps second only to an actual theater experience and the best part about Warner Home Video’s stylish Combo-Pack is that it includes just about every format you need to watch the film like never before.  Featuring two Blu-ray discs, a Hi-def DVD and Digital Copy formats, you can enjoy the movie whenever and wherever you please.  Warner Bros. takes the movie experience one step beyond with a whole new interactive gateway called BD-Live that expands on your home entertainment system’s functionality with connections to the internet and in-system features such as picture-in-picture technology and much more.

Above the Line: Practical movie reviews with Rory DeanThe first thing you’ll notice about this review is the “See It” ticket stub.  My previous review doesn’t include one, written before I adopted it.  I suppose in retrospect I would have included it there as well, even though it is quite a biting review.  The fact is you can’t not see a film like this for all the reasons people complain about it and of course, for all the reasons people tell you to see it – at least once.  Therefore, the green ticky.  The second thing you’ll notice is the stylish holographic dust jacket (slip case) that feels like an open door invitation into the universe of the film.  It can only benefit your viewing of the film to let go a little bit, embrace the visual bravado, sideline your distaste for the exposition and redundancy and step inside.  Once there you’ll find plenty of nuances to take you further toward a completely immersive movie time.  My copy came with a Snaptag sticker on the cover that’s a nice little touch adding another layer to the movie universe much the way the website that was engineered for Donnie Darko (2001).  I strongly suggest you miss the director’s cut (sorry Rich) and read my review of the first to tell you why, and my review of the director’s cut to second that opinion.  Trust me.  If you haven’t seen it it’s still worth the visit.  Hopefully your player has internet access because the BD Live feature is a necessity that will amaze you with each title that connects to it.  In a day and age when so many of our movies disappoint us, both in the theater and afterwards as purchases and rentals, think of all this bonus material as our just rewards to return again and again to the movies that thank us for our love of them.

I can’t think of why you wouldn’t want a Combo-Pack of all your movies.  The price difference between them and single titles is often nominal, if that and the little extras are like a treasure chest you can’t wait to crack open and devour every second when you do.  I have the briefcase collector’s edition of Bladerunner that is hands down the best collection I own.  The distributors and marketing companies are all rushing to demand, not to mention looking for new ways of detouring piracy, slowing the demise of legacy media (DVD) and promoting new media (Blu-ray) while introducing Cloud-based delivery, management and procurement.  If you’re not familiar with these new features or interested there’s no pressure to dive right in.  In some respects it’s like supermarket coupons and those old school direct mailers with the discount slips to try new stuff or just use old ones you’ve forgotten about.  They say Blu-ray sells itself in terms of unprecedented audio and picture clarity and quality and they are right, but you also need a little motivation to get there and make the switch.  We all know people are still getting movies “for free” on the internet and will continue to do so, but when packages like this come along with such cool stuff inside it’s unlikely you can hold out for long once you see what you’ve been missing.  Now that’s never going to hold true for all titles – films like Keyhole and Take Shelter will most likely, hopefully not waste the proverbial trees on Blu-ray releases or elaborate packaging – but others, some that may even surprise you like Happy Feet 2 that might just add to the holiday cheer or at a minimum the escape from your 9 to 5.

Warner Bros. World of Inception – Bonus Features:

Disc One:

This is ‘Focus Points’ a Warner Bros. exclusive collection of 14 featurettes of various parts of the production that can be run in ‘Extraction Mode’ so at key intervals during the film it will cut away to these individual parts, individually one by one, or all at once as a standalone mini-documentary.  Interesting stuff akin to deleted scenes, gag reels, etc. Box reads “Infiltrate the movie’s imaginative landscape to learn how Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio and the Cast and crew designed and achieved the films signature moments”.

Disc Two

Part 1: Dreams: Cinema of the Subconscious (44 minutes) – Joseph Gordon-Levitt hosts this behind the scenes look at the research that went into Nolan’s dream studies and how the work found its way into the movie.  Nolan appears as one of the interview subjects and adds some interesting facts.  These are mostly for fans of passing fancy that dulls over repeat viewings. Box reads “Can the dream world be a fully functional parallel reality? Joseph Gordon-Levitt and leading scientists take you to the cutting edge of dream research”.

Part 2: Inception: The Cobol Job (15 minutes) – This full motion animation to the live-action film is intended as a prequel that focuses on how the three team members were tracked and enlisted by the Cobol company of the film with a build up of the extraction that was performed on Saito.  Box reads “See the events that led to the beginning of the movie”.

Part 3: 5.1 Sountrack Selections from Hans Zimmer’s Versatile Score – Soundtracks (10) that play over a black screen.  Some have commented they enjoyed the blank screen, allowing them to do other things while the music played on.  This feels shortsighted and I personally would have preferred some visual accoutrement.

Part 4: Concept Art, Promotional Art and Trailer/Tv Spot Galleries – There are two still gallery sections containing set design drawings, posters and a promotional campaign.  There are 13 television spots, trailers and long-trailers (2-3mins), theatrical trailers and a selection of the most popular and successful ad campaigns leading up to the movies release.

Final Bonus Bd-Live: Project Somnacin: Confidential Files (BD-Live Feature) – BD-Live is one of the coolest features for this film or any film, providing your Blu-ray player and/or home theater system allows you to access the internet.  With an internet connection and BD-Live account, you’re able to tap into more stuff for this title with what is described as “Highly secure files that reveal the inception fo the dream-share technology”.  It’s enticing if not a bit gimmicky, but nevertheless this sense of interoperability and behind the scenes access is jus the thing to connect with fans and everyday movie goers who will never tire of more.  More is always going to be more when it comes to our entertainment.  Blu-ray discs with the additional space opportunities are truly the next wave of assembling bonus content to enhance and payback purchasers looking to broaden their collection and enhance the experience of their favorite films.

Inception Aesthetics and Accomplishments:

I’ve already reviewed Inception and if you’ve read my review you know how I stand on the film.  I do believe we can look closer at the gut strands of Inception and what Nolan has accomplished in addition to what I’ve already discussed.  I think it is equally important that reviews are as complex things as the films they intend to praise and condemn.  Reviews suffer from either of those excesses and can only truly be a benefit by fighting to the middle ground of experience, opinion and expertise.  Not all reviewers are filmmakers or vice versa.  I just happen to be.  I try to bring that hot smoke of living that life to my reviews.  Even when I am well into digging the grave of a cinema failure I try to ask myself if there is something else I can write about to show that movies are multifaceted things and they deserve our respect as much as our critical thinking.  I don’t rate films on box office success and often go against them.  But my reviews focus on watchability and entertainment, the value of experience and the practicality of experience.  Nevertheless I hold true to my first review.  The fact of the matter is there is enough to say about the aesthetics of Inception that warrants additional thoughts.

Christopher Nolan cut his filmmaking teeth on a gritty, introspective black and white film called The Following back in 1998.  He spent a year of weekends shooting it, conserving the precious and pricey film stock by considerable blocking, rehearsing and planning.  He shot it on a shoestring and a vision and it shows.  I believe if our beloved filmmaker deities were stripped of their precious bloated calf-bladder budgets their films would be better for it – at least more honest.  The grandness of Inception will not be found in its budget or its success but in the humility found after sixteen-hour days down there in the muck of exhaustion and fortitude with the last man or woman standing up for the production, down there together making something they believe in regardless of the payoff.  I speak having been down there in those trenches and I loved everyone who was there with me seeing our beloved film to fruition.

Every film Christopher Nolan has made since The Following has been leading up to Inception in a straight line.  Part of me stopped with his second film, Memento but that is neither here nor there but the subject of another article perhaps.  For Nolan he has consistently galvanized his audiences with bigger and more daring films.  It is exactly this tumultuous balancing act that is a constant source of accomplishment and failure in Nolan’s films, always putting spectacle and subtlety in opposition to one another to see what happens.  In the court of popular opinion, Nolan is champion, though critics and enthusiasts who take a closer look and get beyond the thin veneer of pop-culture fascination see something else, dig a little, want more and demand it.

Any real examination of the specific photo-chemical, alchemistical, biological components of the guts of Inception using 35mm film stock and over-and-under exposing stocks by 3 and 5 stops, pitting real world location shooting with international dream landscapes would be unnecessarily laborious, though fitting an approach of time and space in Nolan’s universe.  Pointing out that Nolan and his long time friend, collaborator and cinematographer Wally Pfister are masters of the art and craft of filmmaking is perhaps most evident deep down in fabric they made, in the fine line tapestry of light and dark, good and bad and what they created as much as its external appearance to audiences.  It is at this level where the true complexity exists to form and function, the success within, a product of all the stuff necessary to get the image there and make something of it in the first place.  This is where knowing all the behind the scenes stuff can expand the movie universe with an immersive experience beyond the magnitude of the movie, where so many things must all come together seamlessly in order to be successful, demand our attention, force our response in praise or condemnation, hopefully both.

Perhaps that is the answer after all is said and done, the true marker of accomplishment and success of a film, is that it lives in the audience gathered, the moments of it.  Inception is not simply what is seen or what exists in whatever form it takes for you – theDVDor Blu-ray or the Digital Download, it is a fleeting reflection, the light flittering 24 frames of truth or something like it, experiences that ultimately affect us even if only briefly, a little bit, the emotional buoyancy of possibility.

Disclosure:

Warner Home Video, a division of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Inc., invited me to join their exclusive Blu-ray Elite Movie Review Program and they sent me a complimentary copy of this movie for the purpose of review with special attention on the “Blu-ray Experience”.  I received this video for free, but that does not sway this review or the reviews of other films that will follow.

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About rorydean

Rory Dean is a multi-medium artist, writer and new media strategist with a background as a creative consultant and technology liaison in the San Francisco Bay Area. His broad experiences and specialties include print-to-web publicity, promotions and design marketing using traditional and social media networks. As a motion pictures and television professional, his short films, productions and commercials have screened to domestic and international audiences. His connections to a diverse client base include artists, entertainers, corporations, non-profits and everyday people.. Dean is co-owner and founder of Dissave Pictures, a boutique production company focusing on audio, video, photography and multi-media designs. Dean's personal and professional background includes dreaming and avid notebook journaling, creative and copy writing, promotions and marketing, audio/video production, photography, videography, editing, web design and new media. He’s also a fan of collaboration and knows when to turn the reigns over, offer feedback, lead the team and step aside. His portfolio includes print, online, film, video, photography, graphic design and promotions. He’ll show you. He has a book and everything. "When not juggling various online worlds, I do a pretty good mime – but that’s another story."
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20 Responses to Inception (2010) Blu-ray

  1. Hey Warners, if you wanna sign me up for BluRay Elite feel free.

    Ahem. Um…

    nice work once more, Rory. As detailed an examination of this film on Blu as I’ve read (even surpassing my own: http://www.fernbyfilms.com/2011/02/03/blu-review-inception/ ) I really need to revisit this film again soon. Regardless of what you may think of the film itself, there’s no denying the technical artistry involved in what Nolan and CO accomplished with their movie, and with Warners Blu Ray as well. Nice work man!

  2. simoncolumb says:

    Yeah, this was one of my first bluray purchases and it is brilliant. Ive used the DVD in the combo pack when watchign it at others house and even the digital copy ive watched (notin fullmind you) on the tube journey home. Personally, I think the film is an attack on religion and faith (http://screeninsight.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/inception-christopher-nolan-2010.html) and this depth is what I love (but few people seem to see…). I get the \”its-only-a-heist-film\” attack, but the ambiguity over what defines good and bad is what keeps people stewing over it. I read a bit of your initial response and I think there is much more going on … but you gotta seek it out because, it is still accessible on an entertainmetn level. The depth is scathing and is pro-atheism – not the popular opinion, and not something to publicise…

    • rorydean says:

      Hey Simon – Yes, as you’ll note I left a comment on your blog of further ramblings on the subject of Inception and religion. I think you’ll find that most/all thematic formulas such (Catholicism/Atheism/Agnosticism/etc) when applied to a film will produce the results [you personally] are looking for in the same way statistics prove/disprove the same argument about the same thing between two different people. I also don’t believe what is or isn’t “going on” in the film by way of “depth” can replace your gut reaction to it but rather enhance it after the fact, say with additional screenings.

      A popular reaction at the time Inception was in theaters from average moviegoers went something like this:

      “What did you think of the film? What was it about?”
      “It was awesome! I loved it! But I don’t know what it was about or what it meant. But it was cool!”

      I’ve never been a fan of the notion that a film can live and breathe on what it wants to be when it grows up, suggesting somehow that the psychoanalytical qualities of a film outweighs its overall “watchability” or entertainment value. Simply digging to find what you say is “much more going on” and/or “scathing and.. pro-atheism” doesn’t endear me to the film any more than knowing that ” Ariadne, in mythology is referred to a creator of webs and in literal sense, refers to spiders. Ellen Page’s character who plays the dream architect of labyrinth-like mazes within dreams is also named Ariadne”. Personally I thought the name was as ridiculous as Page who staggered through the film wide-eyed and lackadaisical as though she was really conflicted about how she was going to make her face look to match all the ‘cool stuff’ happening.

      If you’re interested I wrote some articles regarding art, perception and the meaning we place on material and immaterial.

      1) This one explores quantifying the beautiful

      2) This one is about the ‘experience’ of art

      Cheers-

      • simoncolumb says:

        Well, I respectfully hold a different opinion as I love trying to ‘dig deep’ in cinema. I think it reveals more and engages me more when I rewatch and discuss the film. I wrote about the themes that are throughout the Chris Nolan films and they do all match up – but I think that if you have a film about a world “outside of this world” and constantly reiterate the theme of “belief” then you can’t help but get people to discuss religious subtext.

      • rorydean says:

        Oh I love digging into movies as well and love a good foreign film over most American flavors when I want to really get into the thick of things and films that require me to pay attention all the better. Where I find Inception unforgivable is that it never allows us to fully emerge in the world of the story for all the blabbering of exposition every two minutes. It’s distracting to the point of nausea. I’m going to find your work on themes for sure. I think any persistent theme in a film is going to open the door for consideration but it is our willingness to step inside that makes notions of belief become the inklings of religious subtext.

  3. gold account says:

    I’ve never been a connoisseur of comic books and my exposure to them has come from feature films. My expectations for Green Lantern were quite low given its poor reviews during its theatrical run so it was a big surprise that I actually liked it. Granted, it’s no Iron Man or The Dark Knight, although I enjoyed it as much as Thor. Reynolds does a decent job playing the cocky hero, but its biggest shortcoming is the lackluster screenplay that adds too many subplots and drags throughout the second act.

    • rorydean says:

      I’m still working on my review of Green Lantern. I can bet you it won’t be positive. I’m not a comic book, video game or Disney ride adaptation devotee either but I know what I like (see Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes) in terms of weaving character, story and action/adventure and Lantern is dim at best and fatally flawed at most. Thanks for the thoughts. Odd the details about the author here – makes it look like you’re coming from some cash-for-gold website. At any rate, cheers->

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  8. Grever says:

    Awesome blog! Do you have any suggestions for aspiring writers? I’m hoping to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you advise starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m totally confused .. Any suggestions? Many thanks!

    • rorydean says:

      Thanks for the comments but in all honesty your post sounds like spam and I had a hard time approving it. I guess this must be an ongoing challenge for bloggers and all who post online, the constant battle with junk and maliciousness. Do these folks ever get tired? It’s sad really that so much time is wasted on such trivialities. Back to your questions – My advice to aspiring artists of any medium is to do what you do all the time. Practice your craft. If you paint, paint. If you write, write. If you make matchstick art buy a box and have at it. The more you explore your medium the better prepared you are to express what you find and invite others to join you on your pursuits. Start a WordPress blog. Not because I’m here but because it’s a great way to get going, to have a format to house your work and make it available online to a potential world audience. If you’re disabled or homebound or otherwise face life challenges you can create from your personal space and invite the world to join you there. Don’t go for paid until you get a footing and it makes sense to spend money. The old adage you have to spend money to make money is absolutely true but give yourself some time to get good at it first and your audience will thank you for it. Begin away and thanks for dropping by.

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  10. blu ray way says:

    Can I just say what a comfort to uncover someone who really knows what they are discussing on the web. You definitely understand how to bring a problem to light and make it important. A lot more people have to look at this and understand this side of the story. I was surprised you’re not more popular because you definitely have the gift.

    • rorydean says:

      Hey, thanks. You know it’s just so strange, the randomness of posts I receive here. I get so many that just look like spam, the misspellings and links to ridiculous websites selling gold and opinions. I hope you’re a real person. If so, thanks for dropping by. If not, watch out below.

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