“Interstellar” Review

There’s been a lot of hype surrounding Interstellar – Christopher Nolan’s new film. In fact, there’s a lot of hype around Christopher Nolan himself; he has a small, devoted fanbase that treat him like a god. On imdb’s “Top 250” list (based off of user ratings for the films), he has 6 films in the top 60. At the time of writing this, Interstellar is already at #11. This goes to prove two things: One, that the imdb rating scale is fundamentally flawed. And two, that people are ridiculously excited for this movie.

In an undisclosed future date, the earth has been put through countless trials and tribulations, and has become mostly uninhabitable. The humans call themselves “caretakers” as they attempt to live a normal life and survive. However, unbeknownst to the general public, the earth will soon become entirely impossible to live on. Because of this, a secret NASA mission takes place to explore a worm hole near Saturn for potential habitable environments. 

Visually speaking, this movie is a knock-out. It’s a space movie at its heart, and spares no expense to show as many stunning images as it can. What separates this film from Gravity is that this movie is an existentialist drama with the visuals catering to the plot, while Gravity is an action film with the plot catering to the visuals. Not that either of these options are necessarily bad, but Interstellar is much more emotionally draining, while Gravity feels like riding an overly long rollercoaster. Interstellar was also shot on film and relies heavily on practical effects, which creates a much more immersive environment.

Despite the inclusion of several characters that were merely plot or exposition devices, the performances are very strong in this film. Matthew McConaughey gives an out-of-this-world presentation as the retired engineer-turned-farmer who must leave his family to lead the space expedition. Handled by weaker actor, many of his scenes would have really held the movie back, but instead McConaughey is a joy to watch every frame he’s onscreen. Anne Hathaway is tolerable as the daughter of the head of NASA as well as a leader on the spacecraft, however her performance as well as her character leave much to be desired. A lot of time is spent with Jessica Chastain as Murph, McConaughey’s character’s daughter. Unfortunately, her character is there mostly to deliver rushed and somewhat unnecessary plot details, so some of her more emotionally powerful scenes are lost. There are some nice cameos from John Lithgow, Casey Affleck, and Michael Caine, as well as a couple of nice surprise appearances. The strong supporting cast definitely lifts the film up a level.

Compared to some of Nolan’s other works, the story to Interstellar is pretty linear. In fact, a reason I don’t really like comparisons from this movie to 2001: A Space Odyssey is that 2001 is very surrealist while Interstellar explains just about everything. There’s generally not a lot of room for interpretation because this film explains everything that happens several times in detail. While this makes the film very easy to comprehend on a first viewing, it also likely makes subsequent viewings much less enriching. And despite being very scientifically accurate, the film’s big universal theme is that love transcends all. Which, to be honest, is horribly disappointing.

Nonetheless, Interstellar fulfilled my need for a 3-hour existentialist drama. The film’s length may prove to be a problem for some people, especially because of some pacing issues, but I really love lengthy and ambitious films. I think that’s the best word to describe Interstellar: ambitious. And personally, I’m always willing to watch an ambitious picture. 8/10.

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