There didn't seem to be a more can't-miss movie this year than "Interstellar." Christopher Nolan, with all his post-"Dark Knight" clout, making a movie about space exploration starring a Matthew McConaughey who keeps finding new heights in his acting game? What could go wrong? Well, the movie.

There didn't seem to be a more can't-miss movie this year than "Interstellar." Christopher Nolan, with all his post-"Dark Knight" clout, making a movie about space exploration starring a Matthew McConaughey who keeps finding new heights in his acting game? What could go wrong? Well, the movie.

"Interstellar" is tremendously ambitious and multi-layered. That's nothing new for Nolan. But as Nolan tries to tell his most sweeping story and attach a level of humanity that hasn't been seen in his previous films, he loses something along the way. And he takes far too long to get there.

The setting is a near-future world where dying crops and drought leave humanity a generation away from extinction. McConaughey plays Cooper, a former pilot who leads a daring space expedition to seek a new home for the human race. He leaves behind his young daughter and son on a mission only a parent could understand, as he tries to build a future for them.

I'll leave the heady twists and turns of "Interstellar" alone. If you've seen "Memento" or "Inception," you know Nolan has a deft touch at twisting time into an onscreen Mobius strip, and I don't want to ruin any of those moments.

But for the near-three-hour experience of watching this movie, I kept waiting for a sense of wonder that never came. It was like driving across the state of Indiana toward Chicago. After a few hours of nothing but farmland, you come upon that amazing I-90 wind farm. Only "Interstellar" never has a wind farm.

It is plenty windy. As Nolan dives deep into explaining the theoretical physics of his story, he seems to desperately be seeking the approval of Neil deGrasse Tyson. But for a three-hour movie, his storytelling failures are inexcusable. Key characters and plot points are underdeveloped and/or explained in exposition. At times "Interstellar" feels like a TV edit of an even-longer film with key scenes left on the cutting room floor. It's confusing - admittedly, a lot of Nolan's films come to focus on repeat viewings, and I'll give this that chance - but it's also something I never would have expected. It's boring.

The thing that really magnified the flaws of "Interstellar" for me is the fact that there was an amazing film set in space that explored similar themes (evolutionary instincts, parenthood) just one year ago. "Interstellar" is twice as long as "Gravity" and half as good.