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In the Dark

A Helluva Good Universe Next Door

Interstellar
Produced and distributed by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Screenplay by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan

Nightcrawler
Produced by Bold Films
Written and directed by Dan Gilroy
Distributed by Open Road Films

In their latest film, Interstellar, Christopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan have tried to revive a tired science-fiction premise about the world’s coming doom.  It seems Earth can no longer support human life.  The government—that’s the government of America, of course; who cares about other nations?—must move human beings off the planet pronto.  There’s a global blight; only corn still grows, and it’s dying out rapidly.

The film’s primary claim on our attention resides not in its astonishingly trite story, but in its spectacular images.  Reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, the movie boasts wondrously realistic scenes of what it might look like to travel through unimaginably vast reaches of space.  It’s a special-effects marvel harnessed to a story that might have been written by a 12-year-old boy with an above-average imagination.

Interstellar is undeniably juvenile, but that, in itself, is not fatal.  Most science fiction has a childish...

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