Interstellar (2014)

(Video on Demand, April 2015) Some movies are more difficult to approach in a capsule review than others, and while Interstellar is certainly one of them, the fact that I saw it with a raging fever doesn’t help matters at all.  My expectations about it were running high: Christopher Nolan is an ambitious director, and daring to present an original hard-SF space exploration spectacle at a time where superhero franchises are the rage would be ironic even if The Dark Knight Returns hasn’t directly financed Interstellar.  The film certainly delivers on its promises: With a two-and-a-half hours running time, it tackles new frontiers of science (thanks to physicist Kip Thorne’s collaboration), time-travel (in a way), an extinction-level crisis, weighty family matters and humanity’s future in one big wide-screen package.  Matthew McConaughey stars as an intrepid engineer bucking against a subsistence-mode Earth, selected to lead a mission that may offer a way out of a decaying environment.  The rest of the film is an interlocking puzzle of big ideas brought home through very personal stories, exploiting the dramatic possibilities of physics in a way often realized in prose Science Fiction but rarely attempted on-screen.  The result is like a good solid hard-SF novella brought to life, with careful direction and mind-expanding sequences.  I liked it a lot, but surprisingly enough didn’t quite love it like I loved Inception.  The length of the film is an issue, and so are some of the shakier elements of the world-building in which the story takes place.  I couldn’t sufficiently suspend my disbelief when it came to Earth-side matters, although some of the dreary details were all-too-vivid.  Still, I enjoyed toying with the film’s ideas and theme, and think that this is a major Science Fiction film in the way it successfully manages to feel like a mid-seventies hard-SF novel, combining a decent amount of science with a decent amount of fiction.  I’m half-tempted to blame my fever for not being bowled over by the result, but it may also be that Interstellar is designed to be admired more than to be loved… which, in itself, is a very hard-SF intention.

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