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Interstellar

I actually wrote this review last summer, when “Interstellar” was released, but forgot to publish it.  Oops. 

You always know when you’re watching a Chris Nolan film, whether it’s about a masked vigilante or a guy no short-term memory trying to solve his wife’s murder. There’s nobody else in the movie business who can make total confusion so enjoyable and entertaining.

In “Interstellar,” Nolan plays with a lot of the same pieces he played with in “Inception.”  Time speeds up and slows down, characters operate entirely without a safety net, are often unsure where reality begins and ends. But this time the whole thing is (supposedly) based in more in science than in fiction.

Matthew MacConaughey, who has been in so many movies in the last 18 months that he must only ever see his family over Skype, plays an astronaut who sets out from Earth on a desperate mission to find a new habitable planet, and only sees his family over Skype.  In a not-too-distant future, all organic life on Earth is dying thanks to something called “the blight,” and everyone has become corn farmers. But MacConaughey has his eyes on the heavens, and on his daughter Murph’s bedroom, where some mysterious entity seems to be trying to communicate with him by knocking books off the shelf.

Turns out who or whatever entity is communicating with them has also managed to open up a wormhole to another galaxy, where there are several promising planets to replace Earth as humanity’s home. Though, if you ask me, who or whatever this superior entity is, it doesn’t take humanity all that seriously.  The wormhole is out by Saturn, so it takes the astronauts several years just to get to it. And then when they do, the promising planets all orbit a black hole, which makes things all kinds of complicated.  I mean, seriously? There weren’t any potentially habitable planets anywhere in the vast universe that didn’t orbit a time-distorting black hole?  And you couldn’t put the wormhole just this side of Venus? It’s sort of like telling a homeless guy “I found you a place to live… I’ll send a car to a location fifty miles from where you are now, so start walking.  And by the way… your new house is in Iran. You’re welcome!”

Or maybe it’s all the ploy of a director who likes puzzles and much as he likes stories, and likes stories that work like puzzles better than anything. Because when you’re watching “Interstellar,” you’re not thinking about how overly complicated everything is.  You’re thinking about how in the world MacConaughey and company are going to get from point A to point B, and how much it is going to cost them.

Alongside “Gravity,” it’s pretty remarkable that we’ve now got two movies in two years that pay homage to “2001: A Space Odyssey” and in my opinion, surpass that film as entertainment. “Interstellar” may not be as tightly wound and intricately constructed as “Inception,” but it’s still, easily, one of the best, most interesting, most fun to watch films of 2014.

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Posted in All Reviews, by Will Krischke.

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