Does Christopher Nolan’s latest film reach the stars, or does it crash and burn before leaving orbit? (MILD SPOILERS)
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, and Michael Caine
Directed By: Christopher Nolan
To call Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar an ambitious film is an understatement. It deals with a possible future for the human race, wormholes, the theory of relativity, black holes, and space travel. It clocks in at nearly 3 hours, and features some of the most mind bending space imagery I’ve ever seen. Yet despite it all, the driving force behind everything is a father’s love for his children, which makes Interstellar Nolan’s most affecting film yet.
The story follows Matthew McConaughey’s Cooper, a former NASA pilot turned farmer. In the not too distant future, Earth is dying and down to its last usable crop. With few options remaining, Cooper is brought into a highly secretive NASA program designed to seek out and find a new home for our species through a wormhole that has just been recently discovered near Saturn. Teaming up with other explorers Amelia (Anne Hathaway) and Doyle (Wes Bentley), the crew takes to the skies to explore the planets on the other side of the wormhole.
Honestly to go further would start to dip dangerously close into spoiler territory, and since much of Interstellar should be experienced as spoiler free as possible, I’ll try and cover only essential parts of the film. (vaguely). Interstellar spends a good chunk of its time dumping exposition on you in it’s first hour, and it also doesn’t waste any time getting McConaughey into space. It moves so fast, in fact, that I was worried that this may have been too much for Christopher Nolan to handle.
I was wrong. While there are moments where the film gets a little too bogged down in explaining the rules of the film, it’s worth it by the movie’s end, which does become a bit of a head trip at times. There were plenty of moments where I was blown away by what I was experiencing, but also almost on the edge of “come on”. Yet Nolan pulls back at just the right moments to make things not seem completely out there, and actually makes it all work by the time the credits role (it might make your head hurt a little though).
It should also be noted that Interstellar has some of the most insane space travel images put on film. Interstellar is a movie designed to be seen in theaters, IMAX or not. I saw it in a regular theater and many times I couldn’t believe the visuals I was seeing. The amount of research and planning that went into how this kind of travel could be accomplished must’ve been daunting, but it’s clearly worth it when you see it on screen.
As good as the visuals are, Interstellar wouldn’t work without its lead. McConaughey is the absolute star of the show. He nails every scene he’s in, and is clearly gunning for a second Oscar nomination. It’s impossible not to feel for him when he’s watching the video transmissions from his family while he’s on his mission. Anne Hathaway is also extremely good as Amelia, the daughter of Cooper’s old professor, played by Nolan mainstay Michael Caine.
While Inception may be my favorite Nolan film (aside from The Dark Knight), I think Interstellar might be his best. While Nolan may not achieve the lofty ambitions his film sets up, the mere fact that he took this kind of a risk shows why he’s one of the best filmmakers working today. Sure, there’s plenty of things for the Nolan haters to pick apart, but at the same time, even they have to admit that Nolan’s pulled of something pretty damn cool with Interstellar.