Interstellar is absolutely beautiful to look at and immediately it must be said that if possible, the Christopher Nolan film must be seen in 70mm IMAX. Now, it also must be stated that the story itself has so many moving parts. For any filmmaker, that is a supreme challenge to make it work. But, this is the man who made Inception, right?
Nolan’s latest film was co-written by him and his brother Jonathan and the two paint a picture of a world (teased in the Interstellar trailer) where the Earth is basically telling us that it’s time to go.
Matthew McConaughey is Cooper, a former astronaut who now, like many people in Nolan’s Interstellar world, is making his living as a farmer. And even that is not going so well. Blight has wiped millions off the map and those who are left are slowly but surely running out of food.
By happenstance (no details here as they are so integral to the entire plot), he stumbles on what’s left of NASA and their secret plan to find a suitable planet to live on somewhere, anywhere, out there. Michael Caine (a Nolan vet from those Dark Knight trilogy movies) is a professor who has discovered a wormhole that allows us to travel great distances.
With Anne Hathaway, Wes Bentley and David Gyasi, they suit up and head out into the unknown. But first, the Nolans showcase what Cooper is leaving behind -- a young daughter (McKenzie Foy) and teenage son. Cooper could be gone years, decades even. So the choice is a tough one -- stay with your family and everyone dies, or head out into space and try to save the human race. We all know what he does.
McConaughey continues his hot streak with Interstellar. He is in almost every scene and it is he who is our connection to the earthbound world and what they are doing in space.
Nolan doesn’t take too much time to get into space, but just enough to truly give the audience the impression of the fragility of the situation and the deep connection that McConaughey has as a single father raising two kids with his father-in-law’s (John Lithgow) help.
But, when this story truly hits hyper drive, in terms of its true cinematic worth, is when the crew reaches deep space. Nolan’s mastery of his camera work is utterly sublime and single-handedly lays down quite the argument to use film rather than digital with his 70mm IMAX work. But, not all of the sequences are in IMAX, so there’s a bit of an eye adjustment when they switch back and forth… it’s just about framing and really not a big deal to this writer.
Once they’re in space it is also a time for Hathaway to again remind us of her Oscar-winning talents. She and McConaughey don’t always see eye-to-eye in terms of what they should do and everyone involved has ulterior motives. The audience can never tell if decisions are being made that are for what each character personally wants. Or, are plans being made that are all for the betterment and utter survival of mankind?
That is truly a credit to the Nolan brothers and their script. The other aspect of the script that deserves mention is their use of the science in science fiction.
They have a physicist as a consultant and it shows -- although experts will find that much of what Nolan presents is still much more science fiction than science. Yet, it still is an interesting study in mentally wrapping your head around deep space travel, the power of time itself, and yes, even gravity.
It is clear that Interstellar is Nolan’s passion project. His handprints are all over this. Although it works on a certain level when he suddenly shifts from the Interstellar space story to the earth story (the kids are now grown up and are played by Jessica Chastain and Casey Affleck), it feels a little jolt-like when we first go back to see what they’re doing. But, as their rich story is interwoven back into the space exploration narrative, the connections between the two are much more fluid.
Our Interstellar review has to point out, it is too long. We can stand a good three hour movie, but there are parts of this film that could easily have been cut. It is an extremely ambitious endeavor and likely to garner much debate as millions of people flock to see it in the coming weeks across the globe.
Much as when you watch Inception online, it’s easy to see how Nolan’s superhero-less projects tend to divide. You either love it or hate it. The thing with Interstellar is we bet there will be legions that are smack dab in the middle of that argument.