The combination of Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros. added up to success in ratings and sales in 2008 with The Dark Knight, and now both return just in time for the holiday season with Inception. Already a hit in theaters, viewers have been waiting to get the disc home hoping the dreams still feel just as real. To that end, Warner's released a three disc set with 90 minutes of extras, so does it measure up to our (admittedly lofty) expectations? Check out the rest of our review after the break and find out. (Note: While we try to avoid spoilers, there are a few key ones, if you haven't seen the movie and want to remain untainted, please check the review card page for our rating only.)
On a technical level, this release hits all the right notes. Home theater buffs looking to test their systems will find plenty of sample material, from the opening scene with Leonardo DiCaprio sneaking through the shadows of a Japanese castle to show off black levels to the incredible colors and detail of the exploding cafe scene later on, Nolan's directorial eye is on full display here. The soundtrack booms clearly in a DTS-HD MA mix, if you've even seen the trailer you can understand what you're in for. Audio is key to the experience of Inception, and this is one particular case where even a decent soundbar doesn't deliver, as Hans Zimmer offers his booming take on Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien, you'll appreciate a subwoofer accentuating the visuals on screen. It's impossible to say enough about how the movie delivers on a visual and aural level, and they've definitely succeeded in bringing the theater experience home with this one.
We had a minor issue with the menus, like many DVDs and Blu-ray discs it flashes scenes from the movie across the screen, however some of the choices include shots from the last ten minutes or so of the 150-minute movie, a curious choice if you're a viewer who has not yet experienced it yet. The "Extraction Mode" on the first disc differs significantly from Warner's previous Maximum Movie Mode extras by opting to weave 14 featurettes into the run of the movie as it plays (you can also select and play any of them individually) in full screen, pausing the action instead of going picture-in-picture with Bonus View. While it's a relatively low tech use instead of doing dual video streams, it works incredibly well here and even the extras largely measure up in picture quality to the feature. Don't expect any surprise revelations about the plot here, but detailed information on many of the shots in the movie are a welcome addition and make for an interesting repeat viewing. Given the choice we're not sure if we prefer this approach over PiP every time, but with as much as is going on in Inception it makes sense to focus on just one thing at a time.
The second Blu-ray disc contains the rest of the extras including film's score, a documentary about dreams featuring film star Joseph Gordon Levitt that probably overstays its welcome by about 15 minutes, and a motion comic as well as schematics, conceptual art, promo and trailers. The single BD-Live is a "Project Somnacin: Confidential Files" element that we were unable to access, by inviting users to use the red button on the remote to tag content and receive an e-mail containing detailed information the inception of the movie's Dream Sharing technology, it seems more of a way to get people to sign up for Warner's BD-Live portal than anything else. Unlike The Dark Knight, there's no director's chat planned here, and there's no audio-only commentaries included either.
The movie itself? We won't dive too deeply into thumbs up or down territory, but if you've enjoyed Nolan's work before in films like TDK, Memento and The Prestige, you'll notice and appreciate very familiar themes here even as it delves into the world of dreams. Beyond its incredible look, the story keeps up while being divided largely into two parts, a long introduction, exposition and planning sequence that harkens back to any number of classic heist movies, and the actual execution of the job by DiCaprio's character, Dom Cobb, and his team. If there's any complaints to be found, the movie runs so long, and the levels of dream state become so convoluted that keeping track of who is doing what, where, and why is surprisingly difficult. Also, despite its length, there's not much time devoted to the development of the character of Cobb's wife which lessens the emotional impact of that part of the movie. Despite that quibble, in case you can't tell we were massive fans of the movie in the theater and have been similarly blown away by this Blu-ray release, one way or another if you're a fan of Christopher Nolan or just high quality HD releases in general this should find its way into your collection sooner rather than later.