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‘Inception’ Isn’t Perfection

Director Christopher Nolan’s ‘Inception’ opens today, and it’s been touted as one of the few gleaming banner movies of the summer. After all, it is the follow-up to ‘The Dark Knight,’ one of the most critically praised films in recent memory.

But the reviews rolling out are letting expectations down easy: ‘Inception’ is solid, but it ain’t perfect.

“I truly have no idea what so many people are raving about,” says New York Magazine’s David Edelstein. Ouch.

“It’s all very beautiful, and mostly very empty,” reads the Florida Times-Union’s review.

The gist of the criticism is that while everyone was hoping for a New Classic from this summer season, what viewers may have their hands on is merely a Good Flick.

The film stands at 85 percent (an admirable score by any means) on RottenTomatoes, and 75 percent with the site’s Top Critics. More soundbites from the detractors:

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian: “There is something disconcertingly self-important about ‘Inception,’ with a plot that clogs and flags markedly in its final act.”

A.O. Scott, New York Times: “It trades in crafty puzzles rather than profound mysteries and gestures in the direction of mighty philosophical questions that Mr. Nolan is finally too tactful, too timid or perhaps just too busy to engage.”

J.R. Jones, Chicago Reader: “It sags and eventually buckles under the weight of its complicated premise.”

Rex Reed, New York Observer: “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.”

Andrew O’Hehir, Salon.com: “‘Inception’ may have been directed by Christopher Nolan, but Nolan’s dreams are apparently directed by Michael Bay.”

It’s worth noting, of course, that major outlets like Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, the LA Times and the Boston Globe dig the movie.

And the face of film criticism himself, Roger Ebert, likes it, commending the film’s bold uniqueness: “Movies often seem to come from the recycling bin these days: Sequels, remakes, franchises. ‘Inception’ does a difficult thing. It is wholly original, cut from new cloth, and yet structured with action movie basics so it feels like it makes more sense than (quite possibly) it does.”

As for the “I’m confused!” haters? Ebert isn’t beyond acknowledging the baffling complexities: “The movie is a perplexing labyrinth without a simple through-line, and is sure to inspire truly endless analysis on the web.”

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