Here's a sample of the early reviews:
Variety (which sent out its alert at a leisurely pace, at 3:25 PM):
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.
Is it the first great movie of the summer?
No. “Toy Story 3” is. But “Inception” is probably the second great movie of the summer.
Understand, a single viewing is hardly enough to come to terms with the film, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page and Tom Hardy as a crack team that invades Cillian Murphy’s dreams and find unimaginable perils in the subconscious. But that first viewing is enough to realize that “Inception” is a dense, stylish, thorny, dazzling film that delivers as a thrill ride but gives viewers lots to chew on and puzzle through.
Here's Kris Tapley: we'll talk Inception on our podcast Friday:
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.
Empire gives the movie five stars:
In terms of scale and style it is, as Nolan intended, comparable to Bond’s best excursions — yet filtered through a brain-frying, subconscious-spelunking, time-dilating structure that boldly frames action sequences around each other. So we get an explosive Arctic mountain vault-storming within a zero-gravity scramble within a vehicle-crunching chase. In effect, the set-pieces are simultaneous. Which is insane, but brilliant as, while he at times boggles through the necessarily complex editing, Nolan never corrupts his multiverse’s internal logic.
Bottom Line: A devilishly complicated, fiendishly enjoyable sci-fi voyage across a dreamscape that is thoroughly compelling. In a summer of remakes, reboots and sequels comes "Inception," easily the most original movie idea in ages.
And Jeff Wells rounds up some other reviews as well, under the heading "they all gushed." Guilty as charged.