It has been two years since Christopher Nolan’s last directorial effort The Dark Knight Rises blew up the scene and brought in more than one billion dollars at the box office. Since then he has lent his producing and writing hands to 2013’s Man Of Steel and this year’s Transcendence, both of which were not exactly home runs of the Batman variety. Skip to November 2014 and we have Interstellar, a science fiction epic that piqued the interest of many long before its release date. Riding on the coat tails of both the space film trend of Gravity and the film’s leading actors ongoing ‘McConaissance‘, Interstellar seemingly had all the ingredients to be a success of Jupiter sized proportions.
The film is set on a near future Earth, an Earth that is rapidly running out of resources and suffers from blight and severe dust storms. Technology and science appear to regressed and Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a NASA test pilot turned farmer who lives with his two young children and father in law, but dreams of a better future no matter how improbable this seems. Through a series of narrative turns that are too long winded to divulge, Cooper ends up reconnecting with NASA, now a secret underground operation and finds himself, much to his children’s dismay, deciding to pilot a hopeful mission to journey to another galaxy in search of a new planet for the human race to continue to survive. The film, for want of a better word, is exhausting, but it is exhausting in a number of the best cinematic ways. I will be the first person to admit that I am no expert on the logistics and intricacies of science fiction physics and laws, and Interstellar indulges in some of the most mind bending concepts I have had to wrap my head around in a long time. Worm holes, black holes, time dilation and extra dimensions are all heavily featured in the plot, and there is a special kind of delight in watching events take place which are completely spectacular yet almost utterly incomprehensible to you. I get that many sci-fi aficionados will not see it this way, but I enjoyed having to work hard to try to understand what the characters were doing and exactly they why had to do it. To counter balance this scientific edge, a strong line of sentimentality runs through the film in a very unapologetic manner. Cooper’s undying love for his children is often revisited, as are the romantic connections between other supporting characters, and this worked for me personally to bring a humanistic edge to some of the science that was flying straight over my head. It might not work for those who prefer their sci-fi to be a little more clinical and hard edged, but the science/sentimental mix brought back nostalgic feelings of films such as Aliens and Contact. The look of Interstellar is undeniably stunning, with the sheer scale of the picture taking ones breath away on several occasions, but it has to be said that the overall aesthetic is not quite as sharp as in Gravity, in fact I fear we may have been spoiled forever on that part thanks to Alfonso Cuaron.
Matthew McConaughey continues to be excellent as protagonist Cooper, not many actors can still command the audiences attention amidst the visual chaos of a space thriller setting, but he does this effortlessly. McConaughey’s career rebirth is beginning to reach Pixar levels of quality trust, if his name is attached the film is nearly certain to be a great one, and Interstellar certainly follows this pattern. Accompanying McConaughey on his mission is most notably Amelia Brand played by Anne Hathaway, who gives a pleasingly nuanced performance, taking a lot of scientific dialogue and somehow making it palatable for the mainstream audience. Their on screen platonic chemistry is great to watch, and it is refreshing to have two big Hollywood stars fronting a film that does not conclude with a cliche romantic union. Further supporting roles are provided by a cast of talented actors including Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, Michael Caine and John Lithgow, all of whom give enjoyable performances and keep a very high standard throughout.
Overall, Interstellar is a thrilling space adventure that, though housing a few plot holes and perhaps not being quite rigorous enough for a hardcore sci-fi audience, boasts some truly stunning moments and held me captivated through the entirety of its three hour running time. Spectacle is certainly the word to use, with each set piece outdoing the one before it. With a sweeping and interesting score to accompany the extraordinary visuals, the film really does feel like an event in the moment, and carries the kind of plot line that will leave you discussing and pondering for days afterwards. Not one of the easiest watches I have had this year, but certainly one of the most memorable. A thoroughly exhilarating action experience that is helped along with healthy regular doses of heart.