After the start to a summer of stupefying cinematic duds, anticipation is running high for Inception, Christopher Nolan's (The Dark Knight, Memento) latest action-thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio as an "extractor" who can enter people's dreams in order to steal their secrets. Early reviews have critics gushing, but is Inception a modern-day masterpiece or just a relatively good film in a season of unwatchable ones? (Watch the hyper-kinetic trailer for Inception)

This is what we've been waiting for: "One of the year's best films...a stunningly gorgeous, technically flawless symphony of images and ideas," declares Christy Lemire at the Associated Press. This "superb" movie is no average "mindless thrill ride; it'll make you work, but that's part of what's so thrilling about it."
"'Inception' a four-star mind trip' 

The praise is as inexplicable as the movie: I wanted to love this "clunky and confusing" so-called "masterpiece," says David Edelstein in New York Magazine. "But I truly have no idea what so many people are raving about." Here's a theory: Maybe someone "went into their heads while they were sleeping and planted the idea that Inception is a visionary masterpiece and—hold on… Whoa! I think I get it. The movie is a metaphor for the power of delusional hype."
"Dream a little dream"

It's an admirable film — compared to the competition: Although it's "impressive," Inception contains "notable flaws," says Steven Zeitchik in the Los Angeles Times. What it does well is scratch "a very particular itch at a time that few films are scratching anything at all." Unfortunately, the hype is setting Inception up for failure: "No film should have to bear the weight of this much expectation."
"'Inception' is absorbing and provocative, but probably not a masterpiece"