Having sat through The Dark Knight Rises, I wasn’t sure I wanted to see Christopher Nolan’s latest film. However, having seen it, I am pleased to report that Interstellar is a better film than The Dark Knight Rises. It is, however, pretentious, melodramatic, overlong, and ultimately silly.

Interstellar is set in a dystopian future. A blight is killing food crops and threatens to starve the human race. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a retired astronaut living on a farm with his family in a region that is plagues by dust storms. One day he notices the dust forming a pattern on the floor of his daughter’s room. It seems to him to be a binary code for a GPS location. When he goes to the location, he finds a secret NASA facility. There he finds his former teacher, Prof. Brand (Michael Caine), as well as Brand’s daughter, Amelia (Anne Hathaway). Brand tells Cooper that NASA has found a wormhole orbiting Saturn. Brand has devised a plan to transport the human race from the dying earth through this wormhole to another galaxy (shouldn’t this film be Intergalactic?) where they will settle on another planet, once he has solved the “problem of gravity”. (Wouldn’t it be easier just to find a way to kill the blight? One thing I’ve noticed about Nolan’s films is that no one ever does anything the easy way.) NASA has already sent astronauts through the wormhole to find habitable planets. Brand tells Cooper that he wants him to pilot a mission to go through the wormhole and find which astronaut has discovered a habitable planet.

I found most of the second half of this film entertaining, but the first half is a hard slog. There are scenes of people philosophizing about such things as man’s destiny and the true nature of love. There’s a subplot about Cooper’s relationship with his daughter, Murphy (Jessica Chastain). Michael Caine recites a Dylan Thomas poem. And there is a wisecracking robot, who, I take it, is meant to serve as comic relief. (Nolan has apparently forgotten that the comic relief is supposed to be funny.) It’s not until Cooper, Amelia, and the other astronauts travel through the wormhole that this film finally starts to pick up steam, and even then there’s a long lull after they visit the first planet. It seems to me that Nolan wants to be seen as a director with ideas. The problem is that his ideas aren’t very good. (The ideas in The Dark Knight Rises are terrible.) Interstellar could have been a nifty sci-fi adventure. Instead, it’s an ungainly hodgepodge of a a film.

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