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Case Number 19287

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Insomnia (2002) (Blu-ray)

Warner Bros. // 2002 // 118 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 15th, 2010

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson dreamt he had insomnia, but it only turned out to be a mushroom-induced hallucination.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Insomnia (2002) (published December 19th, 2002) and Insomnia (1997) (Blu-ray) Criterion Collection (published July 22nd, 2014) are also available.

The Charge

Days never end. Nightmares are real. No one is innocent.

Opening Statement

Just in time for Christopher Nolan's latest big screen Daisy Cutter, Insomnia scores a Blu-ray release, a perfect suitor for this moody crime thriller.

Facts of the Case

Al Pacino (Any Given Sunday) is legendary L.A. cop Will Dormer, who's found himself in some Internal Affairs hot water back home and gets shipped to the nether regions of Alaska to help out with the investigation into the murder of a teenaged girl.

With an eager young cop (Hillary Swank) trailing him and a partner dogging him about the IA investigation, Dormer has plenty on to deal with—until he swaps gunfire with the guy who might be the murderer (Robin Williams) and in the ensuing, foggy shoot-out, someone dies. Someone who can cause Dormer an ice-road-truck-load of pain. And so the web of lying begins.

The Evidence

Of the four big features that Christopher Nolan has helmed, I'd say only this one doesn't qualify as a homerun. Maybe a ground-rule double. This disc no doubt coincides with the looming release of Inception on the world, as evidence by the $7.50 in movie cash to be used towards a ticket for the film and the surprisingly bold "From the director of The Dark Knight and Inception" accolade pinned at the top of the disc cover. I haven't seen Inception and Nolan fanboy that I am, I have little doubt it will be a quality outing at the theatre, but that's some gusto from the marketing guys at Warner Brothers. You didn't see many "From the director of The Adventures of Pluto Nash" taglines.

Regardless of why the trigger was pulled to push Insomnia into the world of high-def, I'm glad it's here. This is a beautiful movie, no surprise since Wally Pfister, Nolan's go-to director of photography, was setting up the shots. The sweeping Alaska vistas (Nolan sure loves those sweeping vistas) are breathtaking in high-def, especially the opening titles that follow Dormer's plane as it navigates the wilds of Alaska and the finale, which takes place adjacent to a glacier. The 2.40:1 widescreen represents a major leap in visual fidelity, and I defy your eyes not to blow themselves up in excitement when Nolan's lens gulps the scenery. The small details are augmented as well, with Al Pacino's weatherbeaten face divulging more and more wrinkles, bags and blemishes as his insomnia progresses. From tight in, to way out, Insomnia on Blu-ray is a visual marvel and an absolute must-upgrade if you're a fan of the film and want to see it in its most pristine incarnation. The sound, a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, transmits the deeply atmospheric score; though, that's all that I can remember from the arrangement, that it was atmospheric.

The extras are nice, but they've been recycled from the DVD: commentaries from Swank, Pfister, production designer Nathan Crowley, editor Dody Dorn, screenwriter Hillary Seitz and Nolan (in order of shooting sequence); additional scenes with optional commentary, featurettes on the production design, the making-of and real-life insomniacs; an interview between Nolan and Pacino; and a stills gallery.

Closing Statement

Right, about the film: it's a solid thriller, well-shot, well-directed and well-acted (thanks to a satisfyingly sinister turn from Williams and a dialed-down performance from Pacino). There aren't many surprises, but the weight of the material still hits toward the end for the characters' endgames, where Nolan gives us some meaty insight into failure and redemption. I found the insomnia gimmick lacking. Nothing ever really happened with it, save for Pacino looking real spaced-out at times.

Good movie. Great Blu-ray. Extras you've seen before.

The Verdict

Not Guilty. Pass the warm milk!

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Scales of Justice

Video: 95
Audio: 90
Extras: 80
Acting: 95
Story: 80
Judgment: 86

Perp Profile

Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
• 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
Audio Formats:
• DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
• English (SDH)
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 118 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Blu-ray
• Crime
• Drama
• Mystery
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentaries
• Deleted Scenes
• Featurettes
• Photo Gallery


• IMDb

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