McConnaughey is 'miscast' in the lumbering and dull space-exploration epic.
SPACEMAN BLAND: McConnaughey is 'miscast' in the lumbering and dull space-exploration epic.

Circumstances of blockbuster previewing can, and will, encompass projector meltdown. That's what happened during the last 15-20 minutes of Interstellar at the preview. But one tends to avoid writing about an ending, and I'd seen almost all this film had to offer. And Interstellar is, with a few exceptions, a lumberer. Gravity, it wasn't. Does the audience longing to see space exploration need to be seated and asked the question "Would you go space travelling if you knew you'd never see your family again?" This supposedly great puzzle must have nurtured Interstellar during development hell. It was originally going to be a Spielberg movie and has now been shaped into a Christopher Nolan film (which must have been like genetically engineering a rhino out of a puppy).

Matthew McConnaughey is Cooper, an ex-astronaut and a dirt farmer of the not too distant future. The dustbowl has returned and, in an arresting stab toward realism, Nolan films living survivors of the 1930s catastrophe to describe what that was like. Under circumstances that would be even more embarrassing to describe then they were to watch, Cooper and his cherished daughter (Mackenzie Foy, maybe the best actor in the film) stumble into a secret NASA lab. What's left of NASA is trying to ark the dying human race through a convenient wormhole parked near Saturn.

Interstellar surprises you with a high ratio of scenes of people sitting around tables (sometimes on board spaceships) to moments of flight or danger. The innovations, such as scenes caught by an IMAX camera mounted in the nose of a Learjet, portion out thin slices of excitement. Don't expect romance with Anne Hathaway; she's got an austere Hitler-Youth haircut to show she's all about business. It doesn't matter; McConnaughey, miscast to the max, is mostly waiting for 23 years worth of Skype messages.

There are moments. Good robots, naturally. A planet covered with a layer of water as shallow as a kid's wading pool turns out to have ultra Maverick wave-breaks; thanks to a nearby black hole, the clock runs at hyperspeed—one hour there equals seven Earth-years. The back and forth between deep space and dusty cornfields worked in Ray Bradbury's stories. Here, the relentless seriousness and Hans Zimmer going full Bach on the soundtrack's organ, leaches the pleasure of exploration from this high, wide and barren film.


PG-13; 169 Min.

Opens Fri.

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