I didn't necessarily have high hopes going in. In fact, I thought the previews looked downright awful. That said, it was hot and I felt like going to the movies. I was hoping for at least a decent popcorn movie (or nacho movie since I don't really eat popcorn at the movies). Instead of that, what I got was a self-serious, ponderous movie. I honestly don't know why this has gotten so many good reviews. Among the things I actively disliked were:
1. The screenplay is talky and awful. For some reason, Nolan has characters stand around, talking, and talking, and then talking some more about what they are going to do or should do. It reminded me of an extended cheesy Star Trek battle scene where they talk about how their shields are failing and they give a running tally of how close to failing they are. The movie could have easily been 50 minutes shorter if cut down on the ponderous exposition. Even worse is when characters "philosophize" about dreams or ideas.
2. This is the most painfully literal minded movie ever made about dreams. You would think, given its enormous budget, the film could find less obvious representations for delving deeper into the unconscious mind of its characters than riding an elevator down. One reason I enjoy the Hellboy movies is they aren't afraid to descend into a series of absurd and excessive images that shouldn't be taken literally. Inception, however, has no sense of dream logic at all. Suffering through it, I actually longed for the silly Nightmare on Elm Street sequels where at least occasionally some bargain-basement surrealist aesthetic would emerge.
3. The only arresting image is shown in the trailer. However, it's only arresting in the trailer since the exposition heavy film explains it way to such a degree that it looses any mystery and ability to induce awe.
4. This one is more a nitpick, but when you dislike a movie so much that's what you start to do. You don't forgive its minor flaws. In the film, characters constantly talk about the subconscious mind when they mean the "unconscious." Even more nitpicking, characters don't seem to understand what a "paradox" is. Contra what a character says, Escher's never-ending staircase isn't technically a paradox. It's merely an optical illusion. Yes, that's really nitpicky. I know.
Anyway, I should have stayed home and watched the Dokken video from A Nightmare Elm Street 3 about dream warriors. It isn't 150 mins long.