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  1. tl;wr -- Interstellar was entertaining, but left me disappointed, especially on further reflection. Interstellar is an enjoyable film. Though something like 2 hours 40 minutes long, it never left me bored or restless. It treats its subject matter with reasonable care and doesn't have any of the scientific howlers that you might find in, say, Gravity. (More on that in a bit.) Speaking of which, let me compare Interstellar with two other recent SF(ish) films: Gravity and Europa Report. Europa Report was a modest, relatively low-budget 2013 SF film. It was limited in both scope and ambition, and for that reason was tremendously successful (as a film -- I have no idea how much money it made or lost). For those who might not know the film, let me explain that Europa Report is a faux documentary analyzing the efforts and tragic but heroic end of a space crew traveling to the Jovian moon Europa to investigate whether life may exist there. The film works well for a lot of reasons, not least because of what I already mentioned -- limited scope and ambition. There was little film time given for the purpose of "rounding out" the characters; it was assumed that the audience could figure out for themselves that the astronauts were real people with real lives and concerns, and that if (when) something terrible happened, it would be tragic for many. Instead, the film concentrated on showing the realities of life when engaging in interplanetary travel, subtlely explaining space travel without either pandering to or insulting the intelligence of the viewers. The setting was very near future, so the science and technology were extremely believable. The film is not without its flaws or its critics. Some hated the "found footage" approach, though I personally thought it worked very well for this movie. And as much as I enjoyed the film, even I can't argue that the "flashback" structure was unnecessarily complicating and would have worked equally well just telling the story chronologically. I never watch horror movies, so the supposed resemblance to a horror flick was lost on me, but I found the attempt at that sort of suspense utterly unnecessary: In the end, the astronauts were doomed to die horribly one way or another, so the "creepy monster" feel was unnecessary (though I do approve of the last scene of the pilot trying to provide some final scientific return from the mission by "sacrificing" herself -- actually opting for a relatively quick and painless death of drowning/freezing/getting ripped to pieces instead of a more protracted demise by hypothermia). And the final sign-off speech by the mission director was cloying, though perhaps realistic given that she was trying to put a good face on a privately funded space expedition that went horribly wrong and resulted in the loss of the entire crew. But on the whole, the movie worked brilliantly. Europa Report was the best "hard" SF movie I have seen since, well, 2001: A Space Odyssey. (And considering the bizarre final half hour of that movie, Europa Report might well be the best SF movie I have ever seen.) Gravity was a big, shiny, glitzy, typical Hollywood sci-fi film from the same period as Europa Report. It was, in fact, a mirror image of Europa Report, strong where Europa Report was weak and weak where Europa Report was strong. (Except for strong directing and strong acting, which were evident in both. In fact, if anything, Gravity was too slick in its directing; IMO, it could have used a bit less glitz and a bit more grit.) Gravity starred Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, two of Hollywood's most popular (and prettiest) actors. In addition to big-name stars, it had big-budget special effects and a big-shot director, who seemed determined to turn the movie into a parable of redeption through sacrifice, or something like that. Europa Report had neither international star power in its big-name personnel nor a huge marketing push; Gravity excelled in both areas. Gravity also put considerable effort into showing how human and relatable its primaries were, resulting ironically in cardboard characters of little depth whose trials seemed both manufactured and unbelievable. This alone makes the movie almost unwatchable on subsequent viewings. The "science" in Gravity was laughable. Here, Europa Report was simply in another class entirely. Gravity was a rollicking good ride the first time, but cannot stand up to a second screening, where the viewer will inevitably wonder if Outer Space is really only one cubic mile in volume, whether destroying a single satellite might actually cause a chain reaction within minutes (and, if so, why it hasn't already happened like three decades ago), why an astronaut would casually pilot an EVA module around delicate work being done by fellow astronauts (he wouldn't), how Sandra Bullock's character managed to wear a space suit for hours on end without even needing a diaper (amazing bowel and bladder control those astronauts have!), and so forth. From any sort of technical viewpoint, the film is a huge and irredeemable mess. Literally irredeemable; to make Gravity an honest-to-goodness good movie, you would need to rewrite it from the very beginning and change many key plot points to make it somewhat believable, resulting in, well, an entirely different movie. So my review of the movie can be summarized as follows: When I went to see Interstellar, I was hoping for Europa Report, but I got Gravity. Though not exactly, since I think Interstellar is a better movie than Gravity. But with all the fanboys swooning and the likes of Neil deGrasse Tyson (badly overrated both as an entertainer and as a science explainer, not to mention a seemingly compulsive liar) singing its praises, I assumed it would be something really, really special. And it was not. The mere fact that the "distant galaxy" apparently consists of three adjacent rooms, weeks or perhaps months apart, obviously within relatively easy flying distance of each other, is bizarre and eye-rolling enough to write off the "science" part of this supposed science fiction. But it wasn't the SF weakness of the film that I found really disappointing. Rather, the movie claimed to be about The Power of Love (cue Huey Lewis). But that whole theme was simply unconvincing. To offer just one example from many: When, after an entire lifetime apart of more than 90 years from the daughter's perspective, Dad finally gets to see his baby girl again, and she's 106 or whatever while he's only about 40 -- THEY DON'T EVEN TOUCH EACH OTHER!!!!!! ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? Here lies the girl who has been his motivating force in all he's done! So does he throw his arms around her? Does he smother her with kisses? Does he say, "I don't care if you're three times my age, you are my baby girl and I adore you!"? No! He stands there and SMILES at her while they exchange pleasantries, without so much as a handshake! But it gets much, much worse. When this supposedly "adoring" daughter dismisses her dearly beloved, long-lost, cruelly missed, finally returned father with a lame "No father should see his child die" -- HE LEAVES! That's it. No need to watch any further. How about, "I was there when you came into this life, and I'm going to be here when you leave it, sitting quietly by your head and stroking your cheek while you say your goodbyes to the wonderful family you produced, who are mine even though I don't know them"? Yeah, that would have been good. But no, no time to WATCH HIS BELOVED DAUGHTER DIE! Heaven forbid. Our hero has far more important things to do, like fly off in search of a woman who in reality hated his guts and never showed the least romantic interest in him, nor him in her, the emotional pinnacle of their entire relationship being when he undocked from her spaceship and they waved goodbye to each other as he fell into a black hole. Interstellar : B+ for the original idea, but no better than a C- for execution. And honestly, that's being way too generous.