Inception appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 sets. The last time I reviewed a DVD for a Christopher Nolan movie came in late 2008 when I checked out The Dark Knight. That one offered a disappointing transfer, as it was rougher and murkier than expected.
Happily, the SD-DVD of Inception came across better; though not a stunning transfer, it looked pretty darned good for the format. My only notable complaints related to shadow detail. Blacks were usually fairly deep and dense, but some low-light shots appeared rather thick and excessively dark. This was more of a problem early in the film – later low-light sequences seemed clearer – but I still thought parts of the movie came across as too dim.
Sharpness was pretty solid for SD-DVD. Wider shots demonstrated some mild fuzziness, and I also noticed a bit of blockiness/jagginess. Still, those issues were modest, especially when I remembered all the rough edges and shimmering of Dark Knight. Most of the movie displayed nice clarity. Edge haloes were minimal, and digital artifacts also failed to create a notable distraction; they were there, but not in a substantial manner. Source flaws didn’t come up at any time.
Colors were pretty natural – surprisingly so, since so many modern action movies opt for stylized tones. The hues here tended to be somewhat subdued, but they remained fairly full and pleasing. In the end, I was pleased with the image, as I felt it provided a better than average SD-DVD presentation.
Greater praise fell upon the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Inception. Gunfire, explosions, car chases – all of the elements that can make a mix exciting popped up here. The movie didn’t boast constant sonic involvement, but it came fairly close, as much of the movie threw out action material. The track created a terrific soundscape in which these components moved around us in a satisfying way.
That meant dynamic use of the surrounds. These were fairly equal partners in the proceedings, especially during those many action sequences. At those times, we got a lot of elements in the rear, and these contributed good life to events.
Audio quality satisfied. Speech appeared concise and distinctive, without edginess or other issues. Music boasted nice vivacity and life, while effects demonstrated excellent clarity. Those components appeared dynamic and precise, with good range and punch. The soundtrack of Inception delivered what we’d like from a movie of this sort.
Only a few extras appear here, all of which are “dumbed-down” from the Blu-ray version. We get four Extraction Mode Focus Points. On the Blu-ray, we found 14 of these and they ran more than 44 minutes; the DVD’s four “Points” fill a total of 11 minutes, 54 seconds. These include “The Inception of Inception” (3:08), “The Japanese Castle: The Dream Is Collapsing” (3:31), “Constructing Paradoxical Architecture” (2:18), and “The Freight Train” (2:57).
Across these, we hear from writer/director Christopher Nolan, producer Emma Thomas, production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas, special effects coordinator Chris Corbould, stunt coordinator Tom Struthers, visual effects supervisor Paul Franklin, director of photography Wally Pfister, editor Lee Smith, picture car coordinator Tyler Gaisford, and actor Leonardo DiCaprio. The featurettes cover the movie’s origins and development, various themes and concepts, locations and sets, stunts and various effects, cinematography and editing.
Though brief, the programs offer some good information. “Inception” is the only mild disappointment, as it could provide better insight into the project’s themes than it does. Nonetheless, it’s decent, and the others develop some technical areas well. The main problem stems from the brevity: less than 12 minutes of behind the scenes materials for a movie like Inception is bound to be insufficient.
The DVD opens with ads for the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 videogame, Blu-ray Disc, All-Star Superman, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole and Hereafter. No trailer for Inception shows up here.
According to IMDB voters, Inception is the fifth-best movie ever made. That’s insanity; it’s not even one of the three best films shot by its own director. While Inception does provide some good action and stands out as something unusual, it doesn’t quite coalesce into a genuinely satisfying experience. The DVD offers excellent audio, good picture and a minor collection of supplements. The lack of bonus materials means this doesn’t become a great release, but at least it presents the flick itself in a positive manner.
To rate this film, visit the original Blu-Ray review of INCEPTION