Westport News film critic Susan Granger reviews the new movie, "Interstellar:"

Visionary filmmaker Christopher Nolan ("The Dark Knight," "Memento," "Inception") has created a speculative, mind-bending sci-fi adventure through the celestial space-time continuum.

Sometime in the future, Earth is dying. As the atmosphere grows richer in nitrogen and loses oxygen, the world is suffocating. Famine is rampant, yet science is so derided that rewritten history books claim the Apollo missions of the 20th century were a hoax to force the Soviets into a bankrupting space race.

Aeronautical engineer-turned-farmer Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is secretly recruited by his former physics professor (Michael Caine) to pilot a NASA spacecraft through a mysterious deep space tunnel, called a wormhole, near Saturn to find a suitable planet for Earthlings to colonize. But widower Coop's heart belongs with his family, particularly his precocious 10-year-old daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy). Coop knows that space travel means that Murph could be his age when and if he ever returns.

Nevertheless, Coop and his crew (Anne Hathaway, Wes Bentley, David Gyasi) with a robot called TARS (voiced by Bill Irwin) embark on what becomes a spectacular thrill ride, encompassing incomparable beauty and inconceivable terror. As years pass, now-grown Murph (Jessica Chastain) realizes that, in order to see her father again, she must solve an essential equation involving time, gravity and space. It's a captivating premise, even if movie-goers understand very little of the techno-babble.

Propelling not only the plot but also empathy for the father/daughter plight, Matthew McConaughey embodies the strong, tender hero, supported by a cast that includes John Lithgow, Matt Damon, Casey Affleck and Ellen Burstyn.

Obviously inspired by Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" and consultations with eminent theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, writer/director Christopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan have conceived a metaphysical conclusion that's comparably bewildering.

Inventively designed by Nathan Crowley and magnificently photographed by Hoyte Van Hoytema, the film's emotional effectiveness is heightened by Hans Zimmer's fantastic score.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Interstellar" is an audaciously ambitious, awesome 8, reflecting Nolan's belief that humans are destined to explore the universe.

- For more about movies and theater, check the website: www.susangranger.com.