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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Mystery > Drama > Serial Killer > Remake > Insomnia (2002/Warner Bros Blu-ray)

Insomnia (2002/Warner Bros Blu-ray)


Picture: B+     Sound: B+     Extras: B     Film: B+



A remake of the original 1997 Norwegian film, Insomnia stars Robin Williams, Al Pacino and Hilary Swank.  Insomnia is an obsessively twisted tale directed by the dark, yet elegant Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight).  Insomnia was Nolan’s next venture after dazzling audiences with his fanatical mind trip in Memento.  Being one to never disappoint Nolan created an dark world in the eerie wilderness of sunny Alaska; though this time he did not where his triple hat of writer/director/producer, satisfied with taking a rest as just director.


The tale stars Al Pacino as detective Will Dormer who along with his partner Hap Eckhart (Martin Donovan) is brought to the Alaskan town of Nightmute to solve the brutal murder of a young girl.  It seems that the detectives have some alternative motives as well, hiding out from an internal affairs investigation back in Los Angeles.  In Christopher Nolan fashion our main character (in this case Al Pacino) is plagued with inner turmoil.  As an investigation is raging on in LA, Detective Dormer finds himself riddled with guilt in Alaska.  While chasing the killer down an embankment, Dormer accidentally shoots the wrong man, but does not admit his fault; instead covering it up.  We soon find Detective Dormer in a fragile state consumed by guilt and immersed in the 24hours of daylight in Northern Alaska unable to sleep.  Adding salt to the wound is the killer (Robin Williams) taunting Pacino’s character at every turn, as he witnessed the accidental shooting and cover up.


The film is truly brilliant and insanely depressing.  Nolan takes us on another journey of the obsessed, dragging the characters through the dirt to come out battered and broken.  There is a number on Pacino’s head throughout the film, but as the film moves forward we increasingly feel the tension building.  In only a way Nolan could, we as an audience concurrently sympathize, yet detest Pacino for what he has done.  In the end, Nolan again managed to spin a wonderfully immersive tale of depression, guilt, obsession and inner turmoil.


The technical features on this new Blu-ray are not the highest quality we have seen for a Christopher Nolan film, but are nevertheless amazingly well done.  The 2.40 X 1 aspect ratio impresses in its AVC-1 1080p encoded transfer as it manages to be very detailed, while not washing out Nolan’s intended depth and grittiness.  The picture adequately balances light and dark, as detail and texture pop throughout.  The film mainly leans toward the darker hues, but manages to splash color in here and there when needed.  Overall a quality presentation with nice balance.  The sound is presented in DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1 Surround track that is just as amazing as the picture.  Like the picture the sound is all about balance and this release gets it all too right.  Insomnia’s sound manages to ‘blast and boom’ at the right moments, just as it can nicely transition into dead silence.  The sound effects are superb and everything projects crisp and clear, with a pristine dialogue track.  The track has solid directionality that lends to the intended atmosphere of the film.


The extras are very nice, but are sadly just recycled over from the DVD.  I give the extras a high rating because they were excellent in the first place, but honestly I would have liked new HD features.  The extras include a Commentary Track with director Christopher Nolan that (as I have known for a while) is one of the best commentaries out there as it gives the inner workings of Nolan’s creative process and even goes way beyond that.  There is also a Cast/Crew commentary that is choppy as different parties come and go to give their account on sections of the film; no where nice as Nolan’s commentary.  180° A Conversation with Christopher Nolan and Al Pacino is an interesting little extra that delivers just what it says and shows Nolan as a bright eyed new director.  Other extras include 3 featurettes that are ‘blah’ at best and include Day For Night: The Making of Insomnia; In the Fog (another making of); Eyes Wide Open (about insomniacs); Additional Scenes (optional commentary); Stills Gallery; Theatrical Trailer.  Nice extras, but would have liked something new.



-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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