It's a fantastic week for DVD releases; fantastic as in fantasy. First off is the mind-bending sci-fi mystery thriller 'Inception,' director Christopher Nolan's impressive investigation into dreams and reality, featuring an outstanding cast headed up by Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe and Marion Cotillard. Next is 'Shrek Forever After,' a less-than-stellar final chapter in the animated adventures of everyone's favorite green ogre. Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas return once again for voice-over chores.
What It's About: Director Christopher Nolan ('The Dark Knight') took a common sci-fi story premise -- people invading the dreams of others -- and wove it into a fantastic, mesmerizing sci-fi mystery thriller that takes viewers through layers and layers of real, surreal, and unreal worlds. Leonardo DiCaprio leads a team of "extractors" who steal valuable corporate secrets by entering the subconscious of executives during the dream state, when the mind is at its most vulnerable. But the team's last job -- "inception," or planting an idea in someone's mind -- turns out to be a seemingly impossible mission that takes the crew into dreams within dreams within dreams -- with the possibility of no return.
It's Kinda Like: 'The Matrix' meets 'The Cell,' 'Dreamscape' and 'eXistenZ'
What We Say: Nolan is no stranger to the obscure and esoteric -- his 2000 'Memento,' which follows a man, suffering from short-term memory loss who tries to track down his wife's killer, unfolded backwards in time. 'Inception' takes the director's love of mind games (Nolan, it could be said, is the real Joker in 'The Dark Knight') to it's ultimate level by infusing each dream state with deeper and deeper levels of action and meaning until the line between reality and fantasy becomes obscured. It's confusing at times -- there's four dream story lines unfolding simultaneously -- but if you pay attention to all the details (try not to let the spectacular special effects distract you) you'll be able to figure things out. Maybe. Dream on.
• Extras: The Blu-ray version is where all the action is: There's an extra disc in the Blu-ray set loaded with 90 minutes of behind-the-scenes featurettes as well as 'Dreams: Cinema of the Subconscious,' a featurette that delves into dream research.
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'Shrek Forever After'
What It's About: In this third sequel, Shrek has become a domesticated family man longing for his youthful nastiness. To feel good about himself, he signs a pact with Rumpelstiltskin that transports Shrek to a twisted, alternate version of Far Far Away, where ogres are hunted, Rumpelstiltskin is king and Shrek and Fiona have never met. Shrek has to tap his inner ogre to save the day and turn the worlds right side up.
It's Kinda Like: 'Shrek' meets 'It's a Wonderful Life'
What We Say: Once upon a time the 'Shrek' franchise was original, creative, satirical, clever and funny. But by the third outing things got a little tired and repetitive; this fourth adventure tried to remedy that but still fell short of the first two, feeling forced and too self-reflective. Shrek with a midlife crisis? Making a Faustian deal? If, as billed, this is the last of the series, may the green ogre rest in peace.
• Extras: Commentary, deleted scenes, behind the scenes featurettes.
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Best in Blu-ray: 'Videodrome,' 'Restrepo,' 'Barry Munday'
Other New December 7 DVD Releases:
'Barry Munday': Patrick Wilson stars in this black comedy about a suburban wanna-be ladies man who wakes up in the hospital after being attacked in a movie theater only to realize that he is missing one of his most prized possessions ... his "family jewels."
'Cronos' (1993): Guillermo del Toro's audacious feature debut about a kindly antiques dealer who happens upon an ancient golden device in the shape of a scarab, and soon finds himself possessor and victim of its sinister, addictive powers.
'Disciples of the 36th Chamber' (1985): Classic Shaw Brothers martial arts film starring the legendary Gordon Liu.
'Hunter Prey': A group of elite intergalactic commandos must capture their escaped alien prisoner after their spaceship crash-lands on an unknown planet
'Restrepo': A Harrowing documentary that captures the daily activities of American soldiers deployed at the dangerous "Outpost Restrepo" in Afghanistan.
'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead': A quirky vampire take on the Tom Stoppard play that pays homage to Shakespeare.
'The Year of Getting to Know Us': A comedy about a New York-based writer who returns home to Florida to deal with his eccentric mother and a litany of childhood issues; stars Jimmy Fallon, Sharon Stone, Tom Arnold, Lucy Liu, Illeana Douglas.
Check out other new December 7 DVD releases at OnVideo.
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