|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Monday, 13 December 2010|
The Thirteenth Floor,” the film does possess powerful sequences. But if you examine the film further, it lacks a truly convincing story and it is filled with holes beyond a doubt.
If taken at face value, “Inception” offers a wild ride that takes you on a journey. However, let’s examine that journey for a moment. The entire story is based on the fact that a team of mindwalkers, a name I am giving them for the purposes of simple reference, journey into the dreams of one man, attempting to plant the seed of an idea to sell the company. That is it. The rest of the film is really just a bunch of visual effects in an interesting concept.
There is a backstory that deals with Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his family. However, the family drama going on almost serves to interfere with the actual task at hand rather than enhance. It falls somewhere in a gray area, where it can’t be taken out, but at the time it doesn’t fully fit.
The film’s premise is that a person can link their mind to another person and thus in effect controlling the other person’s sub-conscious. The team usually deals in extraction, so when the movie opens you think, “why wasn’t this movie called ‘Extraction?’” The open is shaky and you have absolutely no idea what is happening and can’t decide whether you are ever going to understand. For some reason I quite enjoyed that feeling. But at the same time it left me wondering how well the story was put together.
I started to keep track of all the questions that popped into my head as the film went by and in the end about half were never answered and about two thirds of those unanswered questions were more for the audience to interpret on their own. Still, because the introduction is so hazy and you don’t know in what state the characters are in at the beginning, there is absolutely no way to tell which reality they may be in at the end. The director adds one of those twists at the end to make you second-guess your initial reaction to the ending. I won’t spoil the ending, but either way the ending left me feeling a bit indifferent.
In “Inception” the mindwalkers must implant an idea, which seemingly has never been done before, by journeying to dreams within a dream within a dream. There are elaborate setups and almost impossible to follow decisions throughout. However, a lot of that is what makes this a fun movie. Once you get past the opening, the ride really takes off.
DiCaprio gives a solid performance. Ellen Page is limited as her character isn’t there to do much other than question Cobb and further his family drama. Joseph Gordon-Levitt feels a bit out of place now and then but overall does a great job. The rest of the supporting cast also does a great job of conveying the task at hand.
Christopher Nolan is known for his dark cinematic imagery, and thankfully that imagery comes to life on this Blu-ray transfer. There are few technical issues here and there, but it is fairly accurate to the original theatrical presentation. There is some ever so minor crushing in the black levels a few times during the film, but nothing that must people will notice. The colors are generally warm and well resolved, except when need be as the case with the cold ocean worlds and winter wonderland sequences. Fleshtones do fluctuate a bit, and some may find the overall skintone to be too saturated. The contrast and brightness levels are nicely balanced. Details and textures remain sharp and well defined throughout the film, with only occasional ringing. This is a near perfect video transfer.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the audio quality. Bare in mind that majority of the audio issues stems from the original sound design, but seemingly comes across as a transfer issue. When I originally saw the film in theaters I was disappointed with the frequency response and immersive qualities of the audio track. I thought, “well, maybe it is just the theater’s system.” So I patiently waited for this Blu-ray released so that I could crank it up in my reference theater. Unfortunately, it was a big let down. It darn near ruins the watching experience. The audio track is dull and muddy. Dialogue is lost numerous times amid sound effects. The original mixing is terrible. Between those two items the audio track is just practically unlistenable for me. The LFE channel is nicely used in the film, but it eats up so much of the frequency spectrum. There are instances in which the sound effects are nicely mixed and crystal clear. But this is the exception rather than the rule. The immersive quality is better in my theater than it was during its theatrical run, but the directionality is spotty. Enveloping comes and goes. Now, you may be wondering about the audio track from the sound design perspective. Well, tried as I might, I could not find a pattern in the sound elements. I wholeheartedly expected the audio timbre to shift with each level of dreaming. Perhaps the filmmakers wanted to keep you guessing as to which world they were in, but there is no difference in dialogue/sound effect/music quality from one layer to another. Overall, I was extremely disappointed with this film’s original sound design, mixing and the Blu-ray transfer, which simply is the result of the original design. Boo.
NOTE: My audio rating is from the standpoint of a professional audio engineer. The majority of movie watchers out there will love this audio track and should consider the audio track rating on a consumer level to be a 4 or 4.5.
The special features of this Blu-ray release are rather limited. This is a three-disc set that includes two Blu-ray discs and a DVD/Digital Copy Combo disc.
The first Blu-ray disc contains the feature along with Warner’s Extraction mode. This mode sounded exciting, but in actuality it only offers about 45 minutes of footage along with the film. There is no PiP or commentary track, which leaves most “Inception” fans without a nice breakdown of the film’s construction.
Disc two contains the rest of the bonus materials. The primary feature on the second disc, which is of course my favorite, is the isolated score in 5.1 DTS-HD MA. It is shame that there is no imagery to go along with the score, so in essence this feature is simply the soundtrack in hi-resolution multi-channel. “’Inception:’ The Cobol Job” is a great featurette that provides a background as to how the mindwalkers got started in the business. “Dreams: Cinema of the Subconscious” examines how dreams actually work. Great for medical enthusiasts. “Project Somnacin: Confidential Files” is a BD-Live function that offers little useful information. Lastly, there is some conceptual/promotional art and trailers/TV spots.
“Inception” isn’t a perfect movie, but it gets high marks for an attempt at something somewhat new and original. For me there were too many plot holes and undeveloped storylines. However, as an action/thriller it is quite impressive. While the video quality nears perfection the audio quality from a professionals standard is quite miserable. However, most consumers will find the audio track to be tremendous. Highly recommended.