I thought this was neither the Kubrickian masterpiece nor the monumental folly it's been made out to be, but somewhere in the middle. A good movie, not a great film. My biggest problem with it was similar to what others have expressed: for a movie that keeps rattling on about the subconscious, and dream logic, and labyrinths and mazes and the strangeness of dreams – none of the dreams, or dreams within dreams, ever felt all that "dreamlike". With the exception of the crumbling city shoreline towards the end (a haunting if not entirely original image), this movie kind of made it seem like dreams are slick Gotham city-like metropolises, or five star hotels, or mountain retreats defended by men on jetskis with guns straight out of an 80's action movie. I don't know about you, but my dreams are not like this at all. The movie completely ignores the psychosexual/Jungian/Freudian/symbolic/mercurial nature of dreams in favor of big action movie cliches. I can't remember the last time I was attacked by a group of Bourne Identity-style euro assassins with automatic weapons in a dream. More likely the attacker is unseen, unclear, ominous and omnipresent. When was the last time you had a big car chase in your dream? Why did they need to get in a van to go to hotel? If it's a dream, why do you need transportation? Characters keeping asking other characters, "You know how you know you're in a dream? You don't remember how you got here," but then in the next scene they're all piling in a van to get to the next part of the dream. Dreams can be very pleasant one second, then turn on a dime into nightmares, and then back again. Nolan's dreams are far too consistent.
I don't think Nolan is the auteur he's been made out to be. He's a very competent director of action movies. I give the movie credit for not patronizing the audience, and not fully insulting my intelligence. I think it's audacious, and somewhat original. But it's no "2001: A Space Odyssey". Nolan, unlike Kubrick, seems afraid of not spelling every last detail out. One of the beauties of Kubrick's masterpiece is that it operates on many levels and is subject to myriad interpretations. It's far more dreamlike than anything Nolan could muster.