I went into Inception focused on staying away from spoilers (and so I'll try to keep this initial impressions post spoiler free), but I felt pretty spoiled indeed because I have read so much of PKD and Zelazny. It reminded me that I had wanted to write a screenplay based upon Zelazny's The Dream Master as an exercise. (It also reminded me why I never followed through on that exercise.) Inception takes a similar opening premise and then runs with your basic heist movie from there.  You know the drill: assemble the team of specialists, have your planning and training montage, then bob's your uncle. Even if all it managed to do was be Ocean's Eleven meets The Thirteenth Floor the movie would be a fun ride. I think Inception is even more awesome that that.
The obvious comparisons of Inception are to The Matrix (whereas the stronger comparisons are to the flawed, but mostly under-appreciated The Thirteenth Floor, which I need to rewatch, or to Dollhouse). In many places Inception (seemingly, but presumably intentionally) takes pieces from The Matrix and arranges them in better ways and makes much more sense of them. It also manages to make its infodumps feel much more organic throughout the story structure. (So, in summary, much better than the first Matrix film in nearly every way.)
My biggest problem with the film was that, to me as spoiled as I am, it felt like it left the training wheels on. I felt like I was ahead a beat or two for the length of the movie, but I can understand that so much of that feeling was that I was already primed for it by some of Sci-Fi's masters (and Dollhouse), and that Nolan's well done foreshadowing in the film played right into my "plot line spider sense". I feel that Inception would make a great build-up to an even twistier, more mind-bending sequel. (That is probably a pretty nice problem to ascribe to a film as my biggest problem with it--- that it needs a crazier sequel to amp things from 11 to 12 or 13.)
On the other hand, I did develop a handful of currently interesting theories about the film of varying complexity, that I'm curious to see which ones survive a second (or third viewing) and if any of them might be interesting to blog about if they do survive repeat viewings.
|||It might be fun to attempt that exercise, but with an eye to The Dream Master script being a prologue/paralogue alongside Inception... merge a couple of characters, rejigger the tech to mostly match, etc.|