Christopher Nolan has been called a lot of things in regards to his directorial style; cold, calculated and often times lacking in basic human emotion. While it is a mostly valid point to some degree with many of his characters seeking either vengeance or solace over the loss of a loved one but never really forging that sought after emotional audience connection, he nevertheless has been able to stir our emotions in many other significant and awe-inspiring ways.
So seemingly in an attempt to quell his many critics who love to rely on old arguments with each of his new films (or just finding the right material), Nolan has crafted
Review Vital Stats:
Projector Type: 70mm IMAX 2D
Film Rating: PG-13
Film Runtime: 2 hr 49 min
Release Date: November 7, 2014
Loves: Big sci-fi epics with brains, Inception
Likes: Anne Hathaway, toned down use of digital effects
Neutral: Frustratingly obtuse plot points
TARS: One of the best robot buddies ever created
|Astronauts are apparently a thing of fiction in the future.|
One such brilliant mind is a man named Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a widowed father of two who was forced to leave NASA and become a corn farmer along with the rest of world. Now spending his days grooming his teenage son Tom to take over the farm, using his immense skill set to fix farm equipment or defending his young daughter Murph's belief that space travel is real (schools now teach that the moon landing was faked), Cooper longs for the days before the planet was hit with its current drought and famine and wishes that he could make more of a difference.
|Despite very little experience, Cooper's crew is ready to save the human race.|
Short on both skilled pilots and trained astronauts, Professor Brand jumps at the opportunity to have Cooper join the mission which would add immensely to its rate of success. Cooper then has to make the heart shattering decision to leave not only his dad (John Lithgow) and son behind, but to also leave Murph, whom has a deep emotional connection with her father behind and doesn't understand his sudden and urgent need to abandon her. With little time to lament his decision, Cooper, along with Brand's daughter (Anne Hathaway) and two fellow scientists, Doyle (Wes Bently) and Romilly (David Gyasi) are soon on their way to a new galaxy in search of a new home.
|The visuals evoke a very similar feel to the Sci-fi classic 2001: A Space Odyssey.|
He makes movies about big ideas usually with an accompanying epic scope but always adds a sugary sweet coating that helps all the extensive talky bits go down a bit easier, but even then as a master of making the implausible seem possible he can slip up every now and then. Interstellar is the most ambitious film Nolan has ever attempted and that is coming from the man who gave us arguably the greatest superhero movie of all time with The Dark Knight, the mind-bending edge of your seat dreamscape Inception and pulled a rabbit out of an endlessly tricky tale of two feuding magicians in The Prestige, and where ambition comes from so does fault and yes, Interstellar is not a perfect film.
|Seeing this on a normal screen doesn't begin to do it justice.|
Not since James Cameron's Avatar has a film necessitated the big screen experience as Interstellar. Sure, films like The Dark Knight and Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol each had scenes and sequences shot in IMAX that were made much more enjoyable when seen in the format, but Interstellar dwarf's both those heavyweights. While it is to be determined how much of the film was shot in IMAX (at least 30 to 40% most likely), it without a doubt adds immensely to the epic nature of the film and cannot be recreated on even the biggest normal theater screen.
|Many of the flight sequences use this perspective which was all shot in IMAX 70MM.|
We rarely get a glimpse of the main spacecraft the Endurance, the design of which is more practical than cool looking, as is the rig it uses for interstellar travel. The crew's robotic companions named TARS and CASE are on a whole other level with their awkward designs which are later revealed to be much more capable that it first appears. Even when we begin to explore this new alien solar system and visit its many worlds we hardly ever see them from orbit and when we do they are fleeting images at best. Those weened on space travel films like Star Wars and Star Trek are in for a drastic new (and arguably superior) way of experiencing space travel in film.
|Traveling to another solar system via a black hole has never looked more impressive.|
Take for instance the first planet Cooper and crew land on. What awaits them is best left a mystery, but what can be said is that Nolan will take you on an emotional roller coaster unlike anything you have seen or experienced before and even though it is all over in the blink of an eye, it is something you will never forget. Much like the hallway brawl in Inception, that entire sequence will likely be the one thing everyone talks about directly after seeing it simply because it is one of those extremely rare cinematic moments where the reveal is every bit as compelling as the mystery that led us there.
|A boy and his robot...|
While other characters all get a fair shake, at front and center the entire time is the image of Cooper sitting in front of that monitor awaiting for that first time his distraught daughter might send him a message. This is where that long sought after emotional core comes into place which is intermingled brilliantly with the science behind the fiction. Rarely (if ever) has a film melded science geekery with human emotion quite as masterful as here which is important when the film starts to really stretch the limits of our known reality.
|Coop and Murph hold a strong bond that goes beyond both time and space.|
Sadly though, many have taken to the internet to pick apart or disprove the science behind the film. If you are sitting there trying to figure out if that is what a black hole would really do instead of taking in all the emotional baggage and visual splendor then you are either opposed to sitting back and enjoying something as pure entertainment or you are just trying to be difficult. If ever there were a film where its positives outweighed the negatives, this one is it. Speaking of negatives...
Now, let's discuss some of the more unfortunate side effects to the way Nolan approached his latest opus. For a film filled to the brim with scientific theories and existentialism there is a whole lot that is said and shown but very little that is explained. There is a fine line between explaining too much and not explaining anything at all, Nolan's own film Inception for example is particularly guilty of over explaining with nearly the entire first hour of that film devoted to making sure the audience understands everything before diving head first into all the action. While it worked upon a first viewing, additional viewings proved that first hour to be somewhat taxing at times.
|These scenes layout the stakes but very little else in the way of how it all works.|
There is one frustrating part of the film that does bear mentioning though which is the details behind why they need some mystery calculation from within the black hole in order to accurately determine how to get all the humans off Earth if their mission is successful. All we learn is that half of it has been figured out (which we never see) and that through some extensive leaps in logic and theoretical time manipulation we will learn the other half. What makes this overtly obtuse plot point even more frustrating is that when it is figured out (for the most part) we still don't know why it was needed or how it is even implemented.
|Some of the worlds they visit are truly awe inspiring.|
That relatively small critique aside, Interstellar is every bit the Sci-fi epic it has been promoted as. The film takes you on an incredible journey through time and space that most will not soon forget. With near limitless imagination and fully engaging both our minds and our hearts, Christopher Nolan has delivered upon us one of the most captivating adventure films in recent memory. While this isn't the best film the director has ever made, and leaves a lot of questions unanswered or just completely ignores their existence, it is certainly leaps and bounds ahead of the curve when compared to everything else Hollywood shovels out to us year in and year out.
Nothing more needs to be said. Logic concerns and plot holes be damned, see this film immediately and make sure to see it in the proper IMAX format in 70mm film if possible. Even without those added benefits though, the story and the visual majesty on display combined with yet another epic score by Hans Zimmer will be enough to capture the hearts and minds of everyone willing to give themselves over to Christopher Nolan and crew for 3 hours of their lives.