Never has a nearly-three-hour blockbuster enthralled me in the way that Interstellar did. After the grim seriousness and plodding pacing of his Dark Knight films, where Christopher Nolan did his damnedest to provide a real world for an utterly ridiculous character to play in, it’s a relief to see him freed from such constraints.

Not that there isn’t solid science underpinning Interstellar’s world-building (and departing), in fact there’s a ton of it. Those not interested in cosmological hows and whys may find the necessary infodumps all too frequent, but where Interstellar eclipses Nolan’s creativity as seen onscreen previously is in the sense of awe, wonder and spectacle he’s able to conjure on this trip into the unknown.

That the film veers all over the place is, to me, one of the things that justifies its length. Giving himself more of that precious resource, time, to play with (and jettisoning the expected training montage second act), Nolan gets to introduce A-list actors late, indulge in sub-plots that don’t emerge until the final half hour, and take us to some truly spectacular places along the way.

The cast are good, if not outright great. As with other Nolan pics, his ability to construct strong characters powered by real emotion is lacking. Luckily the likes of McConaughey, Chastain, Caine and even Hathaway (mostly) bring plenty to their performances.

Perhaps this is all sounding ho hum to you. But if space travel, sci-fi and visual spectacle appeal, you can’t look past this triumph of the imagination where the wondrous universe is the true star. Interstellar renders this semi-palatable for mainstream consumption thanks to co-writers Jonathan Nolan and theoretical physicist Kip Thorne. Add a director who may not have the singularity of vision possessed by Kubrick (himself flawed), and you’ve still got one of the most watchable self-indulgent projects in ages.

‘Interstellar’ movie times