Inception is a tough film to write about for two reasons. First of all, it has a complicated plot with twists and turns can be difficult to conceptualize, let alone vocalize (or in this case, literalize). Second, explaining key plot elements requires spoiling parts of the story, and I don't plan to do that.
The bottom line is that Inception is a good film. It's worth seeing on the big screen, but the effects aren't so grandiose that it requires an Imax experience. If you miss it in the theater, don't worry; it's still worth seeing on DVD.
Critics have compared its mind-bending properties to Memento and Mulholland Dr. I haven't seen Memento so I can't comment on that. Inception is a better film than Mulholland Dr, however. The story, while complex, is also more compelling.
Inception follows a team of "extractors" as they pursue their schemes. Extractors can share and and enter the dreams of other people. They do this for the purpose of corporate espionage. In Inception, someone hires the extractors to implant an idea in someone's subconscious through their dreams so they think it's their own idea.
The surprises and plot twist come from the nature of dreams. The characters have to be aware of whether they are dreaming or awake, and the audience needs to keep track of the various dream states as well.
It's a great premise and the story telling is, for the most part, quite strong.
The effects in the dream worlds are impressive in their execution, but disappointing in their vision. While it's important for the dreamer to not see things that reveal to them that they are dreaming, the fact is that people's "normal" dream worlds -- that which they accept as real at that moment and without question -- are a lot weirder and more creative that those envisioned in Inception. The mundanaity of most of the dream worlds detracts from their credibility in the film.
The bigger flaw with the film is the use of the characters. It's hard to keep track or who is whom once the action starts flying. While a few of the main characters are easy to distinguish, others blend into one another. They're simply not drawn in enough detail to make it easy to tell them apart and understand what they are doing in different scenes.
The other problem with the way the movie draws the characters is that I'm not sure why most of the them are there. In many "scheme" films, a leader assembles his or her team. Each team member has a distinct role, and we get to see each of them execute their role. In the TV world, shows like Leverage and Mission Impossible are prime examples of this.
With Inception, that doesn't happen. Some of them appear to have roles, but those roles don't necessarily carry through the film. Additionally, while some of them may have a clear prep role in the plan, when they move to the execution stage, I'm not sure why everyone who participates is actually participating in that execution.
The action in the dream worlds is fairly easy to follow for the most part, though I did start to lose track once we got to what resembles Hoth. Again I think part of the reason for this is that I had already started to lose track of who was whom and what they were doing.
Despite those concerns, this is still a very good movie, and it's one well worth seeing.