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Christopher Nolan
Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Dileep Rao, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, Michael Caine
Writing Credits:
Christopher Nolan

The dream is real.

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.

Box Office:
$160 million.
Opening Weekend
$62.785 million on 3792 screens.
Domestic Gross
$292.068 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 2.40:1/16X9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 148 min.
Price: $28.98
Release Date: 12/7/2010

• “Extraction Mode” Focus Points
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Inception (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 13, 2010)

Back in 1999, director Christopher Nolan made a critical splash via Memento. However, real commercial success eluded him until 2005’s Batman Begins, and 2008’s Dark Knight led him to the edge of “A”-list status.

But could Nolan direct a hit that didn’t feature a certain winged vigilante? With 2010’s Inception, the answer came back as a resounding “yes”. Critics adored the flick, and audiences attended it to the tune of $291 in the US. Inception ensures that Nolan’s next non-Batman movie will receive almost as much attention as 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises.

Which I suspect will have a more clear-cut narrative than the winding funhouse ride of Inception. The film sets up the notion that individuals can enter the dreams of others and steal ideas from them. This becomes a form of super-high-tech corporate espionage, as businesses attempt to lift notions from competitors.

That’s called extraction, and Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) excels at it. However, a botched job leaves him in need of redemption, so he accepts an offer to perform in inception. That requires him and his team to enter a dream and implant an idea. This is much trickier than extraction, and we follow the complex operation along with a mix of side complications, most of which connect to Cobb’s wife Mal (Marion Cotillard) and their unusual relationship.

Look up “quick and dirty synopsis” in the dictionary and you’ll find the preceding text. Inception comes with a story so complex that my summary doesn’t remotely tell the whole tale.

Perhaps too complex a tale, to be honest. At its heart, Inception comes with a pretty simple plot, as it’s essentially a caper flick: Cobb and his pals need to break into the mind of Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy) and do their job. Cobb’s issues with Mal do add subtext to the proceedings, but the movie remains fairly basic when we get past its fantastic trappings.

Of course, those fantastic trappings remain the main draw, as they turn the tale into something unusual. I have to give Nolan and company credit for something decidedly different here. Most summer fare involves sequels or remakes, so the presence of an expensive, complex effort like Inception amongst all its competitors makes it an effort to admire.

But is it also something to enjoy? Yeah, though not as much as I’d like. When I saw Inception theatrically, I’d heard all the praise heaped upon it and expected something amazing. After all, I loved both of Nolan’s Batman movies, so I hoped to get a truly dazzling experience with Inception.

Instead, I found something… pretty good. Not amazing, not stunning, but just pretty good. However, I thought a) the complexity of the movie might make it an experience that needed to be viewed again to really appreciate, and b) my high expectations would be more realistic on second screening.

But nothing changed with my follow-up examination of Inception. Indeed, without the newness to keep me off-balance, the movie packed less of a punch. Initially I feared the dense nature of the plot kept me from being able to take in everything the film had to offer. Instead, I now think the complexity tended to make the flick look deeper than it probably is.

Not that I think Inception fails to delve into interesting concepts about fantasy versus reality. I just don’t believe most of these go much of anywhere. Many of the characters come across more like plot devices than anything else, and the film tends to take itself far too seriously.

This means moments of levity are few and far between. Granted, comedy doesn’t seem to be Nolan’s forte, and I don’t think movies need to be laugh riots to succeed; I certainly don’t mind that Inception lacks many funny moments.

I just feel it might’ve worked better if it’d tried harder to have fun with its notions and not been so darned somber. There’s no sense of playfulness or a nod toward the insanity of the concept. Normally I would appreciate that, but in this case, I think a lighter hand would’ve added some much needed verve to the proceedings.

I don’t want to sound too down on Inception, as it does offer much to admire. Nolan certainly knows his way around an action scene, as the flick boasts a good number of effective sequences in that domain. Again, I do really admire the film’s ambition as well, for it shoots far beyond the usual megabudget summer movie’s parameters.

But I can’t lie and pretend that Inception entertains me as much as I hoped it would. The movie provides a number of strengths but it gets buried under some of its pretensions. This leaves it as a good flick but not one that deserves claims of greatness.

The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio A-/ Bonus D+

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 went with stylized tones that emphasized orange and teal. While these choices lacked imagination, they came across well. 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

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