Osage Reviews...INCEPTION (Blu-ray; Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures) - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 6 Old 01-02-11, 02:31 AM Thread Starter
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Osage Reviews...INCEPTION (Blu-ray; Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures)

Studio Name: Warner Bros. (Legendary Pictures)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Disc/Transfer Information: Widescreen 2.40:1; Region 1 (U.S.) Release
Video Codec: VC-1
Tested Audio Track: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Caine, Ken Watanbe, Tom Berenger, Cillian Murphy


Remember the Dennis Quaid thriller Dreamscape back in the…oh…what was it, 1980s? He played some guy that had the ability to enter people’s dreams and alter them, thus becoming a target for the government and finally a rogue element that wants to kill the president in his dreams? Well, Chris “Batman Begins” Nolan has turned the concept up 200 notches with his much-ballyhooed Inception – the hoopla surrounding this film was at a fever pitch even prior to arriving in theaters, and now that’s it’s been released on DVD and Blu-ray, the energy swirling about it is even greater on home theater forums and elsewhere.

The overall concensus about Inception, if you read the countless long threads started by film enthusiasts on this title on the aforementioned forums, is that for many, the storyline was just so confusing – Nolan dabbles in the concepts of dream “layers” and at many points, it’s true…we just don’t know what is going on. But if you follow closely, it’s really not all that difficult – many of Nolan’s usual players are onboard, including staple Michael Caine, and the incorporation of Leo DiCaprio in a starring role for one of Nolan’s projects was initially looked at with skeptical eyes, but still, the final result, while odd, will never be called ordinary in Hollywood circles, that’s for sure. The film opens up with a classic flashback sequence, which of course eventually becomes the scene we “catch up” with towards the end, and depicts DiCaprio’s Dom Cobb character being washed ashore on a beach as some children play in the sand beyond. He’s then dragged by Asian-speaking soldiers off the beach and in front of what appears to be their superior (Ken Watanbe), as subtitles accompany the soldiers’ explanation of how DiCaprio’s character was found. The entire science behind Inception is then systematically revealed, as we see DiCaprio and his “team” of dream invaders entering different “layers” of this induced dream they’re all in. Apparently, this sequence was an “audition” for DiCaprio and his men, because Watanbe's character has a job in mind for them to do.

The concept behind Inception was more than fascinating – but much of it gets so lost in thick storytelling that it becomes too far fetched and downright confusing for its own good. As DiCaprio puts together another “team” to tackle this job, he explains to his next female prospect – introduced to him through his old professor (Caine) – how they do their work…apparently, this girl is going to be the “constructor” of the raw blueprint for a dream, explaining to her that she must construct pathways and other elements in the mind of the person they’re planning on infiltrating – in this case, the Oriental gentleman wishes for DiCaprio and his team to enter the subconscious dreams of the son of a powerful tycoon (the son being played by Nolan staple Cillian Murphy) so an idea can be “planted” in his head…an idea having something to do with his father’s company and how it will affect everything around them. This “planting of an idea” is known as inception, and according to the lore that Nolan creates in this film, it’s nearly impossible and very dangerous. So, DiCaprio’s “espionage dream weaving” Cobb character begins to build his team and plans to invade Murphy’s mind through days of plotting this dream-based attack.

The notion that someone could endure a dream within a dream, and that the subconscious and dreams have varying different layers, is explored in detail here – through some kind of briefcase-based contraption, DiCaprio and his team hook up to the different people whose minds need to link together to enter a dream, and once out cold, they’re all in the dream and subconscious mind of the target together. The team gets on the plane Murphy is traveling on, knock him out with a spiked glass of water, and get to work entering his mind to perform this “inception” to complete this job. However, once in the “created dream,” they find that all is not what they expected – apparently, Murphy has consulted with other “dream snatchers” who were able to implant into his subconscious a defense mechanism which would protect him from industrial espionage agents just like DiCaprio and his team. This takes the form of machine gun-toting bodyguards in the dream they’re in, making it more difficult for DiCaprio and team to implant the idea they need to into Murphy’s mind. Other problems arise as we bear witness to the different “layers” of these dreams and subconscious images, one involving DiCaprio’s wife, who is trapped with all of them in these layers and timelines. The whole thing begins to get very science-fictiony after awhile, albeit with dazzling imagery and conceptualization on Nolan’s part.

From Batman Begins and The Dark Knight to The Prestige and now this, Chris Nolan appears to be running the proverbial cinematic gamut – for what it’s worth, my wife couldn’t stand Inception, and we actually stopped the disc just a few minutes in the first time we watched it, instead going with Stallone’s The Expendables; we ended up watching all of Inception, but she fell asleep way before the end, and as for me, I didn’t think it was something I’d add to our collection shelf.


All around the online home theater community, you’ll read the cheering and hoo-rahs! of reviewers applauding the “stellar” video transfer Warner lavished on Inception – and for the most part, it was clean and clear. But I didn’t find it especially demo worthy as many did, as much of the flashback dream sequences were a bit soft to me and although no heavy grain was present, the visuals did not exhibit eye-popping characteristics.

Of course, that’s not the subject matter here – we’re constantly in and out of dreams, layers, hallucinations and then back to reality, so the visuals are a representation of these stages. A sequence involving Murphy’s dream layers, one in which the team and him are in a snowy mountain range, was rendered crisply with the snowfall sharp as a tack and whites kept in check from being blown out in contrast. Blacks were inky and rich, but there was some shadow collapse, all the while keeping fleshtones accurate.

I couldn’t help, though, noticing what I have been describing as “very DVD-like” in terms of video characteristics for most new Blu-ray transfers on Warner Bros.’ Inception – many scenes just didn’t jump out or off the screen in any particular way, thus not providing that surreal “high definition look” we crave from the best transfers the format has to offer – we’ve seen eye-popping detail on titles like The Dark Knight, No Country For Old Men and Fast & Furious, but the last couple of titles I viewed on Blu-ray just didn’t knock me off my chair. Now, this may be a testament to the DVD upscaling abilities of my Oppo Blu-ray player (which makes great DVD transfers look very close to Blu-ray) or it may be that I am getting used to the way images look from my distance from my display…or, it may be the limitations of my rear projection display regardless of the fact that it’s a 1080p example.


Once a Dolby-exclusive studio – from the DVD days into the early Blu-ray era – Warner Bros. has joined the DTS Master Audio brigade (actually, there’s a lot more to this that doesn’t have anything to do with studios “choosing” to go with DTS Master Audio, but that’s for another time) and dropped a 5.1 HD MA track on the Blu-ray Disc of Inception, which defaults to the mix right after choosing “English” from the basic menu. From the outset, the Master Audio track isn’t on the explosive side, requiring a good push of the volume to make out DiCaprio’s dialogue delivery and to truly get immersed in the soundscape. As the action and dream sequences heat up, the mix opens and evolves, delivering rumbling bass to accompany explosions, atmospheric cues in the surround channels and overall improved dynamics. As always, bullets make their way across the front central soundstage position over the shoulders of home theater audience members and into the appropriate surround channels, and other ambient cues are rendered nicely.


The single-disc sample I received from my press contacts at Warner did not include any extras.


Boy…I just didn’t know what to make of this. It sure was different, but I personally cannot see multiple viewings of it, and much of the so-called “science” behind it gets exhausting and cumbersome in many spots; DiCaprio is his usual self here, playing the desperate, always-on-the-edge-of-insanity character he did so well with in Scorsese’s Shutter Island, but I can’t recommend this beyond a one-time watch.
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post #2 of 6 Old 01-07-11, 06:36 PM
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Re: Osage Reviews...INCEPTION (Blu-ray; Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures)

Inception is for sure a movie to see only when you want a brain twister. I previously liked Nolan's Memento a lot, and went into Inception eager to be confused. I wasn't disappointed.

I've been looking forward to the Blu-Ray so I can stop and rewind whenever I want. This will help resolve the questions we see online, whether the children's clothes are different at the end (they are), whether you can hear the top drop after the end (I can't), and more.

Is this a great movie to own? Not for many, but yes, for me. It is a mystery wrapped inside a dilemma. But with all my enthusiasm returning to the theaters to see this movie several times, I never could convince my wife to go once.
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post #3 of 6 Old 01-09-11, 09:13 PM
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Re: Osage Reviews...INCEPTION (Blu-ray; Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures)

This movie in Blu-ray is godsend.

This was one of those mind-challenging movies. I had so many questions after seeing it for the first time and I did not want to just go online to seek answers. I rather re-watch it and in the convenience of my home, with a remote and pause button.

So, this in Blu-ray is just superb! Now I can truly appreciate and understand the multi-level plots, subplots and intrigues, with my favorite munchies within arm-length.
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post #4 of 6 Old 01-09-11, 09:22 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Osage Reviews...INCEPTION (Blu-ray; Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures)

Thank you for all the replies, fellas. I, for one, didn't share the enthusiasm this film has clearly spawned -- you should see the gushing review the editor of Home Theater mag gave the BD in the latest issue -- but clearly I am in the minority. I happened to like Nolan's vision on re-imagining the Batman franchise better than Inception, Momento or even The Prestige, but his filmmaking is often called an acquired taste, so everyone's mileage will vary.
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post #5 of 6 Old 01-11-11, 10:50 AM
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Re: Osage Reviews...INCEPTION (Blu-ray; Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures)

Yes, I too have had to get used to being my own minority re what I like or don't care for. But thankfully at this site we can all state our views without getting flamed.
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post #6 of 6 Old 01-12-11, 01:28 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Osage Reviews...INCEPTION (Blu-ray; Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures)

Indeed...and thank you for your thoughts and for taking the time to read the review.
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