Christopher Nolan’s Inception is the kind of movie that’s tailor-made for DVD. The plot is so twisty that I’m not ashamed to admit that my head hurt when I walked out of the theater the first time. I was a bit confused, a little frustrated, but more than anything I wanted to see it again to make sure it all added up. That’s why I’ve been counting down the days ’til its release on DVD and Blu-ray when I’d finally be able to replay some of its knottier scenes to see if all the puzzle pieces snapped into their proper place. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the film. I just wanted to get it, too.
Last week, I got my advance copy of the film in the mail — it hits shelves Dec. 7 — and after a couple more spins, I’m finally satisfied. The puzzle is complete in my brain. I can now move on to other pressing matters, like what the deal is with this Glee show everyone’s talking about? But before I do, a little something has to be said about the kick-ass extras on the Inception discs. First off, the bonus features on the standard DVD are fine. But if you’re really looking to dig into Nolan’s big British brain for juicy nuggets about the Cobol Job, you’re gonna have to spring for the Blu-ray. In fact, if you’ve been looking for a reason to upgrade from DVD to the newer technology, this may be the film that finally nudges you into busting out your wallet.
On the standard DVD, you get four mini-docs, each giving a behind-the-scenes look at one of the signature sequences in the film. All of them are solid… but also pretty run-of-the-mill in terms of what you get on any big DVD title these days. The Blu-ray, on the other hand, includes a pretty trippy featurette about the science of dreaming and the subconscious, a groovy animated prologue about how Leonardo DiCaprio’s character and his dream team were enlisted by Cobol Engineering to perform the extraction of Saito that opens the film, and, best of all, the chance to watch the movie in “Extraction Mode”. Let me explain. Anyone who’s coughed up $18 for a DVD recently is familiar with all of the How They Did It extras that breakdown special f/x sequences and action scenes. Some of them are good, some not so good. What makes Extraction Mode awesome is how it shuffles these nuggets into the film as its playing. So let’s say you’re watching the scene where Joseph Gordon-Levitt gets into a brawl in zero-gravity. As that scene is playing, the movie basically pauses and takes you to a four- or five-minute feature explaining how they shot the scene with Nolan talking about how extras were throwing up and how he got the idea from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Then, after he’s done giving this tasty little glimpse behind the curtain, the movie picks back up again.
There are 14 Extraction Mode moments, most of which are filled with some sort of anecdote or geeky factoid that lovers of Nolan’s film will eat up and then regurgitate to impress fellow members of the nerd herd with. Which, let’s face it, is more than enough reason on its own to watch the movie a second or third or fourth time. Normally, I’d prefer not to know how a magician pulls off his tricks. But Inception‘s a rare case where finding out how the trick is conjured doesn’t demystify the illusion, it only makes it more magical.