Looking at Christopher and Jonathan Nolan’s best work, a clear pattern emerges. Memento, The Prestige, and Inception have all been finely crafted puzzle-boxes. It’s not much of a surprise, then, that when they decided to pay homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey with their hotly-anticipated science fiction epic Interstellar, they decided to treat Kubrick’s masterpiece as, itself, a giant puzzle in need of a solution. Visually stunning, the film is a marvelous technical achievement that rightly praises human drive and ingenuity, but never quite connects with our sense of wonder.

We start on an Earth that is more clearly becoming inhospitable to human life than our own is. One crop after another succumbs to a blight; the population falls dramatically as the dust-bowl deepens. Society has become small-minded and timid, even denying our former achievements in one scene that feels lifted from a bad rip-off of 1984

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