There's so much space in Christopher Nolan's nearly three-hour intergalactic extravaganza Interstellar that there's almost no room for people. This is a gigantosaurus movie entertainment, set partly in outer space and partly in a futuristic dustbowl America where humans are in danger of dying out, and Nolan -- who co-wrote the script with his brother, Jonathan -- has front-loaded it with big themes and even bigger visuals. Interstellar is supposedly all about what it means to be human, but it's supersized in case we really are so out of touch with being human that we need to have everything blown up IMAX-big. "We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars," says Cooper, Matthew McConaughey's farmer-astronaut-dreamer in one of his many, many proclamations about life, family, and the cosmos. "Now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt." But even the dirt in Interstellar looks spectacularly art-directed.
Launched into a wormhole to scout new worlds for possible human habitation, Cooper and his colleagues encounter frozen worlds and watery ones, and the dangers they face are both existential and specific. The universe Nolan has invented for them is vast, awe-inspiring, and terrifying.
But if Nolan is so godlike, you'd think he'd be better with actors. They don't stand a shooting star's chance in Interstellar. Anne Hathaway's big moment -- her only moment, really -- is a quavery speech about true love. In what should be McConaughey's most moving scene -- he faces the reality that his children have aged by 23 years, while he's only a few hours older -- we can see McConaughey working the strings.