The First Reviews of Inception

Warner Bros. Pictures recently lifted the embargo on Inception reviews. We be updating this article as more reviews pour in.

The reviews so far are unanimously positive:

Film School Rejects (A+):

I will say this now, without reservation and fully confident that many will agree; Inception is easily the best big budget film of the year thus far. I’ll go further and say that it’s one of the most beautiful, well written, and fully realized high dollar films of the last five years. Inception, is close to perfection.

CHUD (10/10):

Inception is a masterpiece. Making a huge film with big ambitions, Christopher Nolan never missteps and manages to create a movie that, at times, feels like a miracle. And sometimes it doesn’t even feel like a movie; while presented in woefully retro 2D, Inception creates a complete sense of immersion in another world. The screen before you is just another layer of the dream.

Awards Daily:

Imagine a film being made in 2010 where you have absolutely no idea where it is going or how it will end. These were the worlds created by revolutionary filmmakers, like Stanley Kubrick, Woody Allen, David Cronenberg and David Lynch. With Inception we have a film and a filmmaker that has broken new ground and very nearly reinvented the form and he did it all without 3-D. Nolan gets there on the power of the story – and his vision was realized with the aid of the usual suspects – Wally Pfister’s cinematography, Hans Zimmer’s unbelievable score – the art direction, the visual effects – see it on IMAX and it will blow your mind. I am sure more than a few will discover that seeing the movie IN an altered state will also blow your mind, not that I’m advocating that.


Further, its sublime combination of theoretical and humanistic elements puts it in the company of films like, yes, The Matrix, but more accurately dense, character-driven concept movies like Synecdoche, New York, itself arguably one of the best and most important (if also impenetrable) of the last decade. But it’s also the kind of movie that transcends any easy comparisons, and resists previous standards of achievement, innovation, or impact, which is why it’s difficult to pinpoint the last time I felt quite so passionately about every single part of a cinematic experience. And that may ultimately be the film’s greatest achievement: to consume and possess its audience with that passion, whether you’re as inspired and excited as I am, or disappointed, confused or frustrated as many will no doubt also be.

JoBlo (10/10):

At 148 minutes, INCEPTION is hardly a quick film but it moves with such speed and efficiency that you never “feel” the length. Even when it’s over, the movie stays with you, begging for conversation, discussion, debate and, eventually, another viewing. I’m sure it’ll even pop up in your dreams. Nothing wrong with that. We should all be dreaming a little bit bigger.

Empire (5/5):

Like The Matrix mated with Synecdoche, New York — or a Charlie Kaufman 007. To paraphrase Casino Royale’s Vesper Lynd, it’s a meaningful pursuit in a summer of disposable entertainments. With physics-defying, thunderous action, heart-wringing emotion and an astonishing performance from DiCaprio, Nolan delivers another true original: welcome to an undiscovered country.

Indie Wire (5/5):

As intricate as the script is—Nolan worked on it for a decade—the movie is not just a feat of cinematic wizardry, even though it comes close to the level of technological derring-do carried off by the likes of Stanley Kubrick. (Indeed Nolan works in repeated homages to the late great auteur beyond the obvious use of moving sets on gimbles to allow athletic Gordon-Levitt to bounce weightless and walk on walls and ceilings.) The movie also has heart. So that even if you do get confused (as I did in the James Bond snow section, filmed in the Canadian Rockies), the emotional through-line pulls you along. It’s as simple as The Wizard of Oz: The Extractor wants to go home.

Box Office Magazine (5/5):

In terms of sheer originality, ambition and achievement, Inception is the movie of the summer, the movie of the year and the movie of our dreams. Director Christopher Nolan’s heist film about a group of dream extractors who can invade a person’s subconscious to steal-or plant-vital information may remind you of James Bond, The Matrix, or even Nolan’s own Memento, when in fact it’s unlike any other. A bold, inventive, audacious entertainment, Inception charts a new course for motion pictures and sets the bar very, very high. Matrix-style business should be in order, even though audiences will have to pay strict attention to get the full experience (perish the thought). Simplistic moviegoers who like their blockbusters cooked in predictability may not get it but Nolan fans and those who like their action married to new ideas will flock to multiplexes for repeated viewings.


If movies are shared dreams, then Christopher Nolan is surely one of Hollywood’s most inventive dreamers, given the evidence of his commandingly clever “Inception.” Applying a vivid sense of procedural detail to a fiendishly intricate yarn set in the labyrinth of the subconscious, the writer-director has devised a heist thriller for surrealists, a Jungian’s “Rififi,” that challenges viewers to sift through multiple layers of (un)reality. As such, it’s a conceptual tour de force unlikely to rank with Batman at the B.O., though post-”Dark Knight” anticipation and Leonardo DiCaprio should still position it as one of the summer’s hottest, classiest tickets.

In Contention (3.5/4):

Moreover, this could be the film to solidify the director’s place among the modern masters. “The Dark Knight” made its mark on pop culture, yes, but “Inception” doesn’t carry the (however unfair) stigma of being based on pulp fiction. It could leave a footprint far more important on the industry: the fulfilled promise, perhaps thanks to a thinly rewarding summer movie season, that expensive, thoughtful, original filmmaking can pay dividends.

The Hollywood Reporter:

Following up on such ingenious and intriguing films as “The Dark Knight” and “Memento,” Nolan has outdone himself. “Inception” puts him not only at the top of the heap of sci-fi all-stars, but it also should put this Warner Bros. release near or at the top of the summer movies. It’s very hard to see how a film that plays so winningly to so many demographics would not be a worldwide hit.

Hit Fix:

…”Inception” is an exhilarating cinematic experience that suggests there is still room, even in the blockbuster world, for big ideas and dangerous emotions, and that may be the single most thrilling thing about it.. has the harshest review so far. Silas Lesnick feels that the film spends too much time on the setup, and is not a fan of the way Nolan applied real-world logic to the world of dreams. That said, Lesnick still gives Inception 7/10:

Coming Soon (7/10):

What is most infuriating about “Inception” is how close it gets to being something really great. Instead, we’re left with “Solaris” (but never as existential or as meditative) meets “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (but never as fun or thrilling). Compared to most of this year’s releases, “Inception” should still impress and, at the very least, inspire some worthwhile discussion, but it’s hardly the heady blockbuster summertime savior that audiences have been waiting for.

Post your comments below or join us in the official post-embargo Inception review thread in the forums.

by George
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