It apparently takes only a day or two for the entertainment news cycle to expunge one obsession and replace it with another, but even as awards season produces one new superlative-worthy entry after another, Warner Home Video is trying to remind audiences of one from earlier this year: 'Inception.' Newly released on Blu-ray in a three disc set, Christopher Nolan's film is now available for everyone to pore over, slow down, rewatch, and generally explore, even if its home video iteration is not quite equal to the task of providing fans with enough material to make the rewards worth the effort. That said, newcomers to the film should enjoy the set's novice-level approach to its dynamics, making 'Inception' a worthwhile and substantive holiday gift for a movie-loving friend or family member.
In spite of revisionist thinking that appeared in recent weeks that it's just not that great – a dismissal that seems to be a by product of finally seeing some other films released this year that are worth a crap – 'Inception' is a triumph on all levels, a rare example of something simple and sophisticated at the same time, and successful on both levels. But the film has already been reviewed, several times over, and requires no further assessment of its general bona fides, except as a piece of entertainment whose substance appreciates with multiple viewings.
On Disc One of the Blu-ray set, WHV has included only the film itself, along with an interactive "Extraction Mode" which allows viewers to sort of literally dive through the film itself and explore many of the most memorable and/ or logistically complicated sequences. Because "Extraction Mode" extends the running time of the film well beyond three hours, and especially because it interrupts the flow of the film, denying us the immediate gratification of its set pieces, it's probably better to view these pods via a separate, selectable collection of featurettes. But with a collective running time of 45 minutes, there's plenty here to enjoy, in particular the process and details involved in creating sequences like the destruction of the Japanese castle or the zero-gravity fight scene.
Thankfully, Nolan participates in the creation of all of the bonus materials, offering specific insights about the ideas and execution of his vision for the film. But even with this small wealth of behind-the-scenes material, the absence of a commentary track is noticeable, and it seems like especially hardcore fans or folks passionately interested in its concepts would leap at the chance to hear the director examine his film scene-by-scene.
Disc Two offers a really strange little collection of extras, meaning they all suit the film well, but don't really cohere together as some sort of encyclopedia of background information about the film. "Dreams: Cinema of the Subconscious" is sort of the centerpiece of the disc, and it provides an hourlong look at some of the familiar dreams that many people have, and then examines them via commentaries and interviews with various experts. Admittedly, the most exciting thing about the documentary for yours truly was the revelation that Nolan has precisely the same sorts of anxiety dreams that I do (going to school for a big test for which you haven't studied); but otherwise it's fairly interesting, although it spends a little too much time exorcising various interviewees' respective nightmares and insecurities without tying that material to the film's construction.
Also on Disc Two is 5.1 presentation of Hans Zimmer's amazing score. Unusually, each composition is individually selectable, but it is also unaccompanied by anything – which means that as you listen to the terrific stereo separation of the music, there are no images, even production stills or concept drawings, to look at. I guess if you're working or cleaning or hanging out and want to make your lifestyle seem intense and important, this is a great way to make it seem that way; but as a viewer it seems pointless to listen to the score via the Blu-ray, assuming that you already have it on CD or your computer.
Finally, other than the requisite gallery of promotional materials, including TV spots, trailers and production art, the second disc includes 'Inception: The Cobol Job,' one of the few motion comics in the history of the medium I was actually interested in watching (not to mention worth the time). Designed as a prequel to the film, 'The Cobol Job' does a great job of maintaining the tone and energy of Nolan's script and characters while offering information that isn't already available.
At the same time, it leaves a narrative gap between this story and the one in the film, although according to the good folks over at Screenrant, the UK Blu-ray of 'Inception' features another motion comic entitled 'The Big Under' which takes viewers up to the start of the movie itself. (There are a whole host of other features listed on the UK edition that either just don't exist, or WHV is saving for a bells-and-whistles special edition later down the line.)
Otherwise, the third disc features only a standard-definition copy for folks who want to bring it home to show to moms and dads who finally, this year, got one of those dee-vee-dee players, but it includes no extras. But as a sort of layman's home video edition of 'Inception,' this set mostly satisfies, because, well, it tells people how they made people look like they were floating, and offers presentation of the film that is as good as one could possibly want. For the devotees, the diehards and folks who simply have to know what each and every part of the movie means, however, this three-disc set is probably not going to answer all of your questions, or satisfy your appetite for information. In which case, 'Inception' is probably a purchase you'll make in your sleep, but at the risk of overdrawing a few corny metaphors, keep the dream alive for an edition in the not-too-distant future that really offers a complete portrait of the conceptualization and creation of Nolan's opus.