By Darren Franich
Updated July 06, 2010 at 11:00 PM EDT

Image Credit: Stephen VaughanOh, summer 2010, you sly pup. You’ve teased us for two long months now with a nonstop cinematic parade of threequels and reboots and remakes and Adam Sandler. Not that we’re complaining: some of those movies were pretty good. But now you’re revealing your prized possession: Inception, Christopher Nolan’s long-awaited, utterly mysterious follow-up to The Dark Knight. We’ve watched the trailers. We’ve pondered over the posters. We’ve noticed that Tom Berenger is in the movie. We are intrigued. Now the reviews are hitting the internet, and guess what? We are even more intrigued.

Todd Gilchrist over at Cinematical speaks for most reviewers when he notes that Inception is “a film that benefits from knowing as little as possible about it before seeing it,” and without spoiling anything, calls Inception “a stunning achievement and the most completely entertaining film I’ve seen in years.” Over at IGN, Jim Vejvoda gets heavy with allusions sure to send film studies majors into the upper reaches of the geekosphere, saying Inception reminds him of Jean Cocteau, Stanley Kubrick, Michael Mann, The Matrix, and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Drew McWeeny over at HitFlix praises the entire cast, who do “great work.” Getting just a teensy bit SPOILER-ific here, he also notes that “the last forty-five minutes or so of the film is just one long reality-bending set-piece,” which is not something you’re going to see written about The Expendables. Like many of the reviewers, Kirk Honeycutt ofThe Hollywood Reporter detects a few Matrix comparisons, and also notes that the movie’s core audience is basically humanity: “It’s very hard to see how a film that plays so winningly to so many demographics would not be a worldwide hit.”

Inception is the first Christopher Nolan film since his debut, Following, that’s not an adaptation. Besides finding the thing extremely entertaining, Justin Chang at Variety notes a similarity between the Leonardo DiCaprio character’s ability to weave dreams and Nolan’s filmmaking: both are activities “devoted to constructing a simulacrum of reality, intended to seduce us, mess with our heads and leave a lasting impression.” Devin Faraci at echoes that assessment in his rave review: “[Inception is] huge-budget filmmaking harnessed to tell a personal story that’s smart and uncompromising.” And Steven James Snyder of Techland concurs: the movie “is so unbelievably inventive and intelligent that I’m convinced a studio just gave Christopher Nolan carte blanche to do anything he wanted.”

Lest that sound too heavy, Mr. Beaks at Ain’t It Cool brings it home: noting that Inception uses the thrilling plotline of a heist movie to ensnare all audiences, he concludes, “Pure cinema at its best feels like dreaming with your eyes wide open. Cinema doesn’t get much purer than Inception.”

PopWatchers, I didn’t think it was possible to be more excited about Inception. I was wrong…dead wrong! Why, oh why, isn’t it July 16th yet? Have these early reviews had a similar effect on you? Please do speak out below!