Bil’s rating (out of 5): B.5. USA/United Kingdom, 2014. Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., Legendary Entertainment, Syncopy, Lynda Obst Productions, Government of Alberta, Alberta Media Fund, Atvinnuvega- og nýsköpunarráðuneytið. Screenplay by Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan. Cinematography by Hoyte Van Hoytema. Produced by Christopher Nolan, Lynda Obst, Emma Thomas. Music by Hans Zimmer. Production Design by Nathan Crowley. Costume Design by Mary Zophres. Film Editing by Lee Smith. Academy Awards 2014. Golden Globe Awards 2014.
In the not-too-distant future, the scarcity of food has made agriculture the world’s primary focus, with sciences relegated to as frivolous a pursuit as acting, and historical events like the Apollo missions are believed to be hoaxes perpetrated by the government to fool the Soviets. Matthew McConaughey plays a dissatisfied farmer whose once glorious career as a scientist and pilot have been sublimated to these rural arts, but he still encourages his children to take an interest in physics, which is why it is perfectly logical that his precocious little girl would have a knack for understanding the gravitational disturbances around their property. She uses her crafty observations to interpret furniture moving in their house as evidence of a ghost and the pilings of dust in her room as a message from somewhere beyond her home (you know I can’t make this stuff up). Turns out that not far from where they live is a research facility headed up by physics genius Michael Caine and his daughter Anne Hathaway, a secret NASA project looking to have humanity survive its impending doom by finding another planet for us to live on. It isn’t long before McConaughey joins this team, leaving behind his family to travel into the outer stratosphere and use a recently discovered wormhole to go to a distant galaxy and suss out the livability of other worlds. Theories of relativity being what they are, however, means that time is not a universal constant and, while only a few human years are spent on the voyage, much more time than that passes on the Earth below. The imagination is meant to be pushed to some pretty impressive limits in this goddawful mess by Christopher Nolan, but it strikes wrong notes at just about every turn, wasting the presence of some fine talent (including Hathaway, who has never been more effectively sincere) who are smart enough to pull off the complicated science jargon in the dialogue and yet never seem to know what they’re talking about. Nolan is so pompously didactic with his runny narrative that he forgets two key ingredients that are always involved in good science-fiction: a sense of wonder (there is no respect for the vast beauty of space) and a sense of humour (the film takes itself and its theories far too seriously; if you’ll recall, 2001 is a brilliant collection of visual dick jokes). The endless running time just gets more ridiculous as it goes on, with no strand left untethered (thank God the ghost thing eventually makes sense!) but more thematic elements than are necessary (climate change, human emotion vs. human reason, the love of the few over the love of the many), then a little drama with a laughable villain and, by the time you get to the over-extended last third, you realize this movie has been making itself up for three hours. Have someone spoil the length of time the story spans, double it, and you’ll know how much time you’ll need to sit through it.