The secret is out.

Christopher Nolan's much anticipated 'Inception' hits movie theaters this weekend, and a collectively asked question will be answered: What the heck is it? While its initial trailer was purposefully ambiguous, we can now surmise that it is about a team of dream professionals who enter peoples dreams and manipulate them. It's a complex world, dreams, and the movie has mostly dazzled critics with it's multidimensional storytelling approach and special effects.

In the world of 'Inception,' Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) leads a team of dream catchers (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Dileep Rao and Ellen Page). He's offered one last job by the wealthy Saito (Ken Watanabe), who wants his team to to implant an idea, referred to as an inception, in the dreams of one Robert Fischer Jr. (Cillian Murphy).

Cobb's mysterious ex, Mal, is played by Marion Cotillard.

Critics are generally raving about 'Inception.' Those who don't like it really don't like it and only a few are so-so. The consensus is that Nolan ('Batman Returns' and 'The Dark Knight') has established himself as a Hollywood game changer with 'Inception.'
The secret is out.

Christopher Nolan's much anticipated 'Inception' hits movie theaters this weekend, and a collectively asked question will be answered: What the heck is it? While its initial trailer was purposefully ambiguous, we can now surmise that it is about a team of dream professionals who enter peoples dreams and manipulate them. It's a complex world, dreams, and the movie has mostly dazzled critics with it's multidimensional storytelling approach and special effects.

In the world of 'Inception,' Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) leads a team of dream catchers (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Dileep Rao and Ellen Page). He's offered one last job by the wealthy Saito (Ken Watanabe), who wants his team to to implant an idea, referred to as an inception, in the dreams of one Robert Fischer Jr. (Cillian Murphy).

Cobb's mysterious ex, Mal, is played by Marion Cotillard.

Critics are generally raving about 'Inception.' Those who don't like it really don't like it and only a few are so-so. The consensus is that Nolan ('Batman Returns' and 'The Dark Knight') has established himself as a Hollywood game changer with 'Inception.'

They hype

Entertainment Weekly: "First time around, the movie -- part sci-fi fantasy, part gun-toting heist pic, part mindfreak, all filmmaker brio -- is dazzling and buzzy. It's a rolling explosion of images as hypnotizing and sharply angled as any in a drawing by M.C. Escher or a state-of-the-biz videogame; the backwards splicing of Nolan's own 'Memento' looks rudimentary by comparison. Only repeated exposure can clarify for each spectator not only what's going on, but also whether the emotional payoff deepens enough to warrant the arbitrary complexity of the game."

Arizona Republic: "The visuals are stunning, perhaps the most fully realized of any film. And yet, as over-the-top as it may sound for the streets of Paris first to rise 90 degrees and then fold over on top of themselves, in this context it is not simply showing off for the sake of doing so, but a believable part of the story."

Associated Press: "In its sheer enormity, it's every inch a blockbuster, but in the good sense of the word: with awesomeness, ambition and scope. The cinematography, production design, effects, editing, score, everything down the line -- all superb. But unlike so many summer movies assigned that tag, 'Inception' is no mindless thrill ride. It'll make you work, but that's part of what's so thrilling about it."

'Inception' trailer


Variety: "But even when questions arise, one so completely senses a guiding intelligence at the helm that the effect is stimulating rather than confusing. Never one to strand the viewer in a maze, Nolan remains a few steps ahead, keeping total comprehension just out of reach but always in view; like a mechanical rabbit on a racetrack, he encourages us to keep up."

Rolling Stone: "'Inception' glows with a blue-flame intensity all its own. Nolan creates a dream world that he wants us to fill with our own secrets. I can't think of a better goal for any filmmaker. Of course, trusting the intelligence of the audience can cost Nolan at the box office. We're so used to being treated like idiots. How to cope with a grand-scale sci-fi epic, shot in six countries at a reported cost of $160 million, that turns your head around six ways from Sunday? Dive in and drive yourself crazy, that's how."

Roger Ebert: "If you've seen any advertising at all for the film, you know that its architecture has a way of disregarding gravity. Buildings tilt. Streets coil. Characters float. This is all explained in the narrative. The movie is a perplexing labyrinth without a simple through-line, and is sure to inspire truly endless analysis on the web."

USA Today: "Hollywood films generally regard audiences as below average in intelligence. Nolan, the creator of such films as 'Memento,' 'Insomnia' and 'The Dark Knight,' regards his viewers as possibly smarter than they are -- or at least as capable of rising to his inventive level. That's a tall order. But it's refreshing to find a director who makes us stretch, even occasionally struggle, to keep up."


They snipe

New York: "Inception is full of brontosaurean effects, like the city that folds over on top of itself, but the tone is so solemn I felt out of line even cracking a smile. It lacks the nimbleness of Spielberg's 'Minority Report' or the Jungian-carnival bravado of Joseph Ruben's 'Dreamscape' or the eerily clean lines and stylized black-suited baddies of 'The Matrix' --- or, for that matter, the off-kilter intensity of Nolan's own 'Insomnia.' The attackers in 'Inception' are anonymous, the tone flat and impersonal. Nolan is too literal-minded, too caught up in ticktock logistics, to make a great, untethered dream movie."

New York Observer: "Through the use of computer-generated effects, buildings fold like cardboard containers, cars drive upside down and the only way you can wake up within the dream is death. None of this prattling drivel adds up to one iota of cogent or convincing logic. You never know who anyone is, what their goals are, who they work for or what they're doing. Since there's nothing to act, the cast doesn't even bother."

New York Press: "'Inception' proves this is Nolan's moment -- a beginning-of-the-end moment for film culture, ha, ha -- because it's conceived to amuse an era hungry for hokum and a geek audience who, after his gross 'The Dark Knight' pulled in $500 million, is primed for more baroque fantasia."

Salon.com "Sometimes Nolan's technical expertise produces its own kind of beauty, as in a startling zero-gravity scene in the hotel corridors when the laws of physics apparently rebel on Level Two. But for the most part 'Inception' is a handsome, clever and grindingly self-serious boy-movie, shorn of imagination, libido, spirituality or emotional depth."

New York Times: "But though there is a lot to see in 'Inception,' there is nothing that counts as genuine vision. Mr. Nolan's idea of the mind is too literal, too logical, too rule-bound to allow the full measure of madness -- the risk of real confusion, of delirium, of ineffable ambiguity -- that this subject requires."

It's eh, so-so

Orlando Sentinel: "'Inception' is an elegant, portentous ride, though I'm not sure Nolan is any closer to visualizing the real (dream) deal than Hitchcock was. He allows the odd playful moment (the title tune from Cotillard's Oscar winning film is a musical signal that a dream is about to end), but it's also a fairly chilly film. We're meant to mourn for loss, fear for characters and a mission in jeopardy. But do we really? Like Stanley Kubrick, like the Grinch -- Nolan's heart seems a few sizes too small."

Time: "But seeing 'Inception' -- or seeing it twice, which we suggest -- does not answer all the riddles. This is a film more to admire than to cherish, one that aims to fascinate rather than to satisfy familiar impulses. It's a beautiful object, like a perpetually spinning top, not a living organism."
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