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Interstellar (Review)

11/11/2014 17:08 GMT | Updated 10/01/2015 10:59 GMT

The time is some time in the not-too-distant future; the place, some generic American state. But really it doesn't matter when or where this movie is set, Interstellar is a filmic no man's land. Matthew McConaughey is Cooper, a pilot who comes out of enforced retirement to "save the world" (really). He is tasked with travelling to another galaxy to find the Earth's population a new home after the planet is ravaged by dust storms. Meanwhile, Anne Hathaway plays the token female in space and his potential love interest and Jessica Chastain plays Cooper's daughter Murphy, who picks up the business of saving the planet where her father leaves off.

Interstellar is yet another film that falls prey to what I call "boys with toys" syndrome. Brothers Christopher and Jonathan Nolan are clearly so caught up in spectacle that they forget the basics, things such as story and character.

For all its bells and whistles, Interstellar feels like a rehash of other better movies. There are shades of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: Space Odyssey, Perfect Storm, and of course Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity (there are so many similarities here, I can't believe it's a coincidence).

The Nolans perform the cinematic equivalent of the soft-shoe shuffle; they're hoping that you'll be so awed by the special effects and so busy shoving popcorn into your mouth that you won't notice that there is no there there. There's not a single character you care about and the mission seems academic. "We're all going to die!" "Meh..."

There is more emotion in a single image in Gravity (for example, a floating photograph of the family of a newly dead astronaut) than Christopher Nolan invests in his entire movie.

If the Nolan brothers are to continue working together, then I wish that they would employ a good (female) script editor or creative producer who would reign in their self-indulgence. Overlong and overblown, Interstellar tries the patience. And I've just about had enough of the Nolan brothers issues with both women and minorities. As soon as I saw a black man in the spaceship, I thought, "Guess who's not going to make it to the closing credits." To be fair, David Gyasi's character Romilly is the second person to die, not the first (that's progress!). But in Interstellar, the Nolans ethnically cleanse the future; the brothers seem completely unaware that more than 90 per cent of the worlds' population is not white. And as Jessica Chastain's character struggled to solve a complex maths problem, I couldn't help thinking, "A) If it's that important, wouldn't you have a team of mathematicians working on it? and B) A couple of Asian maths heads would solve that problem in a jiffy."

Meanwhile, Hathaway is rewarded with one of the most thankless female roles I've seen on the big screen this year. Despite being a professor's daughter and a fixture at NASA, she's the one who gets to espouse the film's tacked-on theme of love and look after the embryos needed to repopulate another planet.

And there's a scene in the film's first segment which is just offensive. As Michael Caine's character Professor Brand is trying to convince Cooper to join the project, we see pictures of the astronauts who have already embarked on a mission to find another habitable planet. "These are the brightest and the best," says the professor. There's one woman and one Asian guy. Seriously?

I liked how Nolan depicted time as a physical space we can inhabit, like Dr Who's Tardis or the Wardrobe in CS Lewis' books, but by the time this segment came along, I was too busy thinking about what to have for dinner.

In the end, Interstellar is just too hokey and just plain silly to be creditable. And, at a bum-numbing two and a half hours, I can't even say this is an interesting diversion.

However, praise must be heaped upon the small shoulders of Mackenzie Foy who plays Murphy as a child, for she is an undeniable star who brightens every scene that she's in. I'm certain that she has a long and distinguished career ahead of her.