Unless you're well-versed in the physics of wormholes, don't expect to understand the intricacies of Interstellar's science. And there's a lot of science, most of which sounds unbelievable, but it gets the story where Nolan and his brother Jonathan (who co-wrote the film), need it to go -- from the dust-smothered and scorched Earth to the dangerous outer reaches of space. The visuals are gorgeous, and not just in space, where Coop and his fellow astronauts -- Amelia (Anne Hathaway), Doyle (Wes Bentley), Romilly (David Gyasi), and the wise-cracking militarized robot, TARS, voiced by Bill Irwin -- travel from planet to planet, but also back on Earth, where time is passing so quickly that Coop's now grown children have all but lost faith that they'll see him again.
Occasionally the time-bending storyline starts to feel like it's stretching time for viewers as well, but somehow the missions -- both the one to save mankind and Coop's personal one to see his kids -- are compelling enough to keep audiences interested. McConaughey balances the line between dead serious, sarcastic, and heartfelt, and he plays well off of his co-stars (particularly his space team). Both the young and adult versions of Murphy are perfectly cast, and Caine -- whose professor has a penchant for quoting Dylan Thomas' poem "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" -- provides elder-statesman gravitas as he did in Nolan's Batman films. As Hathaway's character explains, love is a force that transcends time and space, so if you feel invested in Coop's promise to Murphy (and, to a lesser degree, his son, who grows up to be played by Casey Affleck), you'll forgive some of the confusing and convenient plot loops and concentrate on the possibility that at some point, this father will embrace his children again.