Like your Thanksgiving leftovers, here's a hot take served cold: I just saw Inception for the first time, and it wasn't a very good movie.
First of all, have you seen Dreamscape? From 1984? Just so we have that out of the way.
OK, so now we have layers or levels, dreams-within-dreams. So what? A big part of my problem with the movie is that the various levels are all action-packed garbage. It's action that doesn't even advance the plot: it's there to try to create suspense or a sense of urgency because the death of a character in a parent dream means they die/disappear from the child dream.
The problem is that it's hard to create suspense if you're not invested in the characters. And I definitely was not invested in these characters. You get to the end after an hour or so of feeling like you're flipping aimlessly between channels showing 3 different James Bond flicks. The final shot is where you're supposed to think, wait, is this a dream? or is this real? does he care if it's a dream or if it's real? Instead the feeling I was left with was who cares?
As far as people who get really into discussing what this-or-that means in the movie, I have a feeling they are the same people who found The Matrix exceedingly clever.
Furthermore, the bombastic score got in the way and annoyed me. It's probably unfair of me to include that criticism, since that's my criticism of nearly every major film. Why are film scores almost universally terrible? I wish there was an option to mute all non-diegetic sound.
The actors were all great, so there's the redeeming quality.