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A&E >  Entertainment

Stunning sci-fi effects make up for clumsy story in ‘Interstellar’

Matthew McConaughey plays a man on a mission in “Interstellar.”
Matthew McConaughey plays a man on a mission in “Interstellar.”
Sean Axmaker

What’s new to watch this week on pay-per-view and streaming services:

Pay-per-view / video on demand

“Interstellar,” Christopher Nolan’s follow-up to his hugely successful “Dark Knight” trilogy and cerebral caper film “Inception,” is clumsy as a family drama but stunning and conceptually ambitious as a science fiction film. Neil deGrasse Tyson gave Nolan top marks for his presentation of amazing alien worlds, black holes and quantum physics. With Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, and the coolest robot I’ve seen in ages. PG-13.

“The Imitation Game” was the other true story about a brilliant British thinker facing adversity released in 2014. Benedict Cumberbatch plays real life code-breaker Alan Turing, who cracked the Nazi enigma code. His true story is devastating but the film’s dramatic license gives a skewed perspective on the man and the science. Keira Knightley co-stars. PG-13 for mature themes.

Also new: Morgan Freeman narrates the G-rated Imax documentary “Island of Lemurs: Madagascar” and Chris Evans and Michelle Monaghan star in the rom-com “Playing It Cool,” which comes to Cable On Demand before theaters.

Netflix

The new line-up of movies isn’t quite as exciting this month. Along with the new indie comedy “Life Partners” with Leighton Meester and Gillian Jacobs as BFFs, highlight include the 2001 satire “Buffalo Soldiers” with Joaquin Phoenix as a black market hustler on a U.S. military base in 1980s Germany, and the evergreen comedy “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray.

For the kids, there’s the 2006 animated comedy “Barnyard” and more episodes of the Netflix original “Madagascar” spinoff “All Hail King Julien.”

Amazon Instant Prime

If you missed it on PBS, the 14-hour documentary mini-series “The Roosevelts” is superb. Ken Burns provides a political and social history of America from the turn of the century to World War II through the lives of this influential political dynasty.

Amazon Prime also has a handful of exclusive new movies this month: “The Better Angels,” an atmospheric drama about the childhood of Abraham Lincoln; “My Old Lady,” a comedy starring Kevin Kline, Maggie Smith, and a Paris apartment; and Kevin Smith’s blackly comic horror tall tale “Tusk.”

Hulu Plus

Hulu Plus just picked up the exclusive subscription streaming rights to the hit show “Empire,” the only new series this season to build a bigger audience with each episode. You can also see all 12 episodes on the Fox website and Comcast’s On Demand service (with commercials) for a limited time but Hulu Plus is keeping the show and has fewer commercials.

Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. Visit him online at seanax.com.
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