Early Buzz: Christopher Nolan's Inception

Warner Bros has unleashed the embargo for Christopher Nolan's sci-fi action film Inception, and the first reviews have begun to flood online. After the jump we've compiled some excerpts. We're trying to keep the excerpts as spoiler-free as possible. Hit the jump.

AICN: "Though the narrative speeds ahead like a rapidly unfolding lucid dream, INCEPTION uses the familiar vernacular of the heist film to keep less attentive audiences engaged. Unlike other films that traipse across the boundless landscape of the unconscious mind, it's not a take-it-or-leave-it proposition." ... "The particulars may be complex, but there's an emotional logic that drives the story forward. There are also wildly compelling action set pieces. In this regard, INCEPTION is a miracle: a multi-layered meditation on the unruly clutter of the subconscious that works sensationally well as a classical action film. It plays brilliantly on every conceivable level." ... "What's most exciting about INCEPTION is that it finds Nolan peaking as a visual artist; he's using the extravagantly cinematic tropes of other genres to connect with the viewer intellectually. With INCEPTION, Nolan joins the company of Coppola, Lean and not too many others as a filmmaker who treats the big canvas with the respect it deserves – but with the steely verve of a chess player who can see dozens of moves ahead. Pure cinema at its best feels like dreaming with your eyes wide open. Cinema doesn't get much purer than INCEPTION."The Hollywood Reporter: " A devilishly complicated, fiendishly enjoyable sci-fi voyage across a dreamscape that is thoroughly compelling." ... ""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." ... "Sometimes originality comes at a cost though: At the end, you may find yourself utterly exhausted."Variety: "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." ... "If "Inception" is a metaphysical puzzle, it's also a metaphorical one: It's hard not to draw connections between Cobb's dream-weaving and Nolan's filmmaking — an activity devoted to constructing a simulacrum of reality, intended to seduce us, mess with our heads and leave a lasting impression. Mission accomplished."Cinematical: "Nolan, working with the sort of confidence (not to mention free financial reign) that comes from making a studio a mint on one's previous picture, crafts an amazingly sophisticated, subversive, thoughtful, and even occasionally confusing (albeit in only good ways) tale about the layers of reality in the mind that calcify and crumble when constructed from the raw materials of memory and emotion. At the same time, he's made an utter crowd pleaser, an epic piece of entertainment that ultimately feels so simple precisely because of all of its complexity, and one that rouses and inspires and excites in the same way as blockbusters comprised of pure spectacle." ... "Watching the film, there's a palpable sort of glee that Nolan takes in setting up the rules for his mental universe and then betraying them, contradicting them, or destroying them outright." ... "Ultimately, Nolan's is probably not the kind of movie that should be written about after just one viewing, and shouldn't be viewed even once with any preconceptions or expectations, sky-high as I may have made them for folks who read this far. "Empire Magazine: "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."Thompson on Hollywood: "The movie keeps you on the edge of your seat, focused intently on what's happening. Otherwise, it would be easy to get lost. Structured like an intricate maze, Inception takes the viewer through interlocking sets of dream realities. " ... "Inception not only references the "levels" of complex video gameplay, but also functions as a metaphor for the creative process of moviemaking itself"Awards Daily: "Inception is a journey into the unseen rooms of the mind. It is also a slightly uncomfortably intimate look inside the mind of Nolan himself.  It's a frightening place to be, as it would be to enter anyone's mind – dwelling in the various levels of consciousness, weaving in and out of the fears, desires and behaviors.   As much as we know, as far as we've come, as many places as we've been, there is still a lot about our minds and our dreams that we dare not discover.  How might your darkest fears and impulses manifest themselves in your dreams?  What monsters are lurking there? What memories?    Do you face them or run from them?"InContention: "In reviewing 2008's "The Dark Knight," I wrote that director Christopher Nolan "has made a brief career of exploring characters built upon their somber, in some instances twisted pasts, however distant or immediate." The theme continues with "Inception," a film like nothing you have ever seen before that plays out like a two-hour therapy session, wrapped in the accoutrement of a heist film and bathed in the panache of an entirely immersive cinematic experience." ... "Every single moment of "Inception" is more gripping than the last. It's the kind of film Freud, or more likely Jung, would have delighted in deconstructing.  Nolan takes a leap of faith with his audience, trusting them to keep up with the screenplay's labyrinthine structure while at the same time conjuring enough cerebral hocus pocus to avert attention from its weaknesses."HitFix: "suffice it to say that "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."Film School Rejects: "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." ... "nception has a very cerebral plot, big on emotion and deeply connected to the exploration of the subconscious — but it's an action film, and a beautiful one. Wally Pfister's cinematography is second to none, and the digital effects work is seamless." ... "Parts of Inception are like watching an Escher lithograph come to life, which, you know — is awesome. Coupled with Hans Zimmer's masterful score, Inception is not only a treat visually, but matched by the music from the first scene on. Inception is what The Wachowskis wish the rest of The Matrix films after the first could have been; a head trip with outrageous action sequences and a strong emotional attachment to the story."CHUD: "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." ... "I don't even know what's the most remarkable aspect of Inception. It's huge-budget filmmaking harnessed to tell a personal story that's smart and uncompromising. That's certainly remarkable in this age of Hollywood. " ... "I loved every moment of the waking dream, every frame of the celluloid reality. Cinema is dreaming, and Nolan understands this implicitly and completely. "JoBlo: "Nolan has truly created his magnum opus; an achievement of such grandeur, it's remarkable a film of this scale was made in this day and age" ... "The film stars DiCaprio, in a career-best performance," ... "It's tempting to compare this film to some amalgam of THE MATRIX, James Bond movies, THE STING and the 1984 thriller DREAMSCAPE, and while there are certainly similarities, INCEPTION defies comparison to live as a movie all its own. Intelligent without being impenetrable, INCEPTION is like few films that come before it. The film has no shortage of thrilling action sequences yet none feel arbitrary. The action, for once, serves the story instead of the other way around. But this doesn't mean that the visuals are anything short of breathtaking. "ComingSoon: "In a great many ways, "Inception" is an exceptional film. It boasts a larger than life cast, a virtually unrestricted budget and a director at the top of his game both commercially and artistically. Action scenes feature mountain ski chases, zero-gravity fights and flawless special effect dreamscapes. So how is it that "Inception" comes together as such a bore? "Inception's" problems stem completely from the screenplay. While we're meant to believe that the world Nolan has created is of the utmost complexity, it is nowhere near the level that the exposition affords it. "Inception" is a monstrous, all-consuming exposition that seems to devour character and emotion to the point that, on the whole, the film feels like the origin story for a much more interesting tale. That is, the dream-espionage set-up is wonderfully original and clearly well-researched, but far too much time is spent establishing the rules of the world and far too little twisting those rules into anything other than face value."