by Tony Medley
Running Time 173 minutes.
OK for children.
Some directors suffer from the delusion that audiences just canít get
enough of their marvelous talent. Christopher Nolan, who wrote (with his
brother, Jonathan) and directed this thing, has never made any effort to
bring films in at a reasonable running time. The Dark Knight
(2008) ran for 152 minutes. His next, Inception (2010) went on
for 148 minutes. Then followed The Dark Knight Rises (2012) at
165 minutes. In 10 years he hasnít directed a movie that came in
anywhere close to under 2 hours. This one takes the cake at 173 minutes.
It is simply unsustainable.
Itís a marvel of pop theoretical physics, witness the presence of Kip
Thorne, a former Cal Tech theoretical physicist, as an executive
producer. Because the world is going to hell in a handbasket some
scientists led by Michael Caine have devised a plan to send spaceships
through a wormhole into another galaxy to find worlds receptive to human
life. A wormhole (also known as an Einstein-Rosen bridge) is
a hypothetical topological feature of spacetime that
would fundamentally be a "shortcut," much like a tunnel with two ends,
one here and one maybe millions of light years away.
Caine gets Matthew McConaughey to pilot the latest ship. Naturally they
have to have a gorgeous woman who looks like a movie star along for the
ride, so Anne Hathaway, Caineís daughter, is one of three others who
join Matthew for the trip.
Matthew has some family problems with his children because he has to
leave them in the lurch, gallivanting off in outer space. But, hey, he
promises his daughter (a delightful Mackenzie Foy as a youngster who
morphs into Jessica Chastain during Matthewís absence) heíll come back.
Since sheís not stupid, she doesnít believe him and Matthew worries
about that, even though heís, as I said, millions of light-years away.
Things arenít easy out there in outer space and they run into some
problems, not the least of which is getting back to earth. This is where
Einstein and Thorne once again come into play because, as we all know
now, time is relative. So while all the poor clods trapped back on earth
are aging, Matthew and Anne arenít because the faster you go the slower
you age and all that.
In one segment of the movie, Anne and Matthew go out to explore a
planet. Theyíre gone a little longer than anticipated, maybe a couple of
days. But when they return to the mothership the astronaut waiting for
them, Romilly (David Gyasi), has waited for, get this, 26 years! Talk
about remarkable patience. Being considerate people, they apologize for
taking so much time. Itís possible that I got the 26 years wrong, since
a movie this long with so much scientific mumbo-jumbo does things to
your mind, and in 173 minutes you might mis-hear something, but I donít
think so (he was a young man when they left the ship and he had some
grey hair when they returned). Queries to the PR firm handling the film
went unanswered. Regardless, the point was that, since time is relative,
Matthew and Anne thought they were gone for a few days, but to Romilly
it was shockingly longer.
The first couple of hours are pretty good. The story is interesting and
the special effects are terrific (no green screen!). But the last 45
minutes is annoyingly inscrutable. Where Nolan tries to get a satisfying
Hollywood ending, it just completely falls apart. It goes on and on and
on and, even though itís based on speculative science fiction which is,
by definition, hard to believe, the resolution is beyond anything
credible and, for me, completely ruined what came before. Maybe this is
the influence of Thorne, who has devoted a large part of his career to
time travel, influenced by his friend, Stephen Hawking. Maybe Hawking
and Thorne understand the final 45 minutes, but I donít think any normal
audience will. I thought it was ridiculous, and I like time warp movies.
But movies like1980ís Somewhere in Time and The Final
Countdown, two of the best, had plausible bases for the time travel.
This one requires an
advanced degree in theoretical physics to comprehend, and even then I
would think it would be ludicrous.
November 4, 2014