Nolan’s “Interstellar” is Riveting

imageChristopher Nolan’s ambition exceeds his reach in the often glorious and dizzyingly satisfying outer space adventure Interstellar (B+). Matthew McConaughey valiantly anchors the film as a widowed father and retired pilot living on a midwest farm who gets activated into a journey to find an inhabitable planet for the future of the human race. The stakes couldn’t be higher, setting the stage for epic human emotion and a plot that operates on a dual time continuum of earth and a place beyond the stars, not all that unlike the director’s Inception in which the latter realm was the dreamscape. Michael Caine, Wes Bentley, John Lithgow and David Gyasi are among a very effective ensemble bringing credibility to an often arcane and sometimes pondrous story. In contrast, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain inhabit somewhat problematic characters with odd intentions and impenetrable subplots, respectively. The film’s first and second act are near perfection both visually and thematically, and the final act just can’t sustain the sense of wonder. Still, the early earthbound segments have the heft of Steinbeck by way of Spielberg, and the bulk of the outer space sequences glisten with the majesty of Herbert by way of Kubrick. The film’s heady mix of science and mental puzzles is infinitely resonant and adds up to a near-masterpiece. But as the space dust settles, there are inconsistencies, unexplained motivations and other overlong passages that reflect missed opportunities. Overall, an intriguing premise, fine acting, an engaging story and incredible technology effects put this film in hyperdrive against any others in its category and make for a splendid voyage of mind-boggling proportions.

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