By: Bryan Montgomery
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Christopher Nolan is a master of creating movies that not only bend the realm of possibilities within cinematography, but also a master of movies that challenge the viewer to actually think when they are sitting in the theater. Although his Dark Knight trilogy was more in the vast realms of action-based filmmaking, his other endeavors into film, namely The Prestige, Inception and Memento are widely considered to be breathtaking spectacle movies that require multiple viewings and have created a group of dedicated Nolan fans. Now, Nolan goes into what is perhaps his greatest undertaking; the large-scale space epic Interstellar, a love letter to science fiction that reaches as far as it can, surpassing its shortcomings to create an immersive and visually explosive adventure that is worthy of the Nolan name.
Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a former engineer who is forced into a life of farming as the world is forced into more of an agrarian society when faced with a shortage of food in the mid 21st century. A series of events lead Cooper to the remnants of NASA, who are planning a mission into a wormhole in order to find humanity a new home.
Nolan’s reputation has given him essentially free reign to take whatever creative avenues that he so desires, which is one of the main components of why Interstellar is so well-directed and composed. I’ll the first one to say that it is not my favorite film by Nolan, The Prestige, Inception and The Dark Knight alternate between that title, but, I strongly believe that after watching Interstellar for a second time once it arrives on video, Nolan’s sci-fi epic will probably become part of the conversation as well.
First off, the movie just has the feel of 2001: A Space Odyssey all over it. In many ways, it seems to be a replication of the classic film, only updated to the modern times. McConaughey is the central character of the film, and, as could be expected, absolutely nails it. Nolan has an uncanny ability to bring the best out of his actors, and McConaughey once again turns in a stellar performance, continuing his career resurgence with this film-carrying outing. Cooper is a deep but deliberate character who is thrust into a chaotic situation, as the seasoned veteran is able to fully understand the character of Cooper and convey that into the role with outstanding results.
Alongside McConaughey is a stellar cast of supporting actors, as the new Nolan regular Anne Hathaway does what she does best once again in channeling Brand into the film. A great deal of controversy surrounded her character, but Hathaway, ever the premiere professional, was able to shake that off and deliver a strong role for Interstellar. Jessica Chastain, however, is the show-stealer as Murphy, Cooper’s daughter who ends up playing a massive role in the progression of the plot.
Chastain is given essentially free reign and does the most with it, surpassing the surprisingly misused Casey Affleck and Topher Grace as the unlikely and gratefully welcomed emotional center of the film. The connection between Murphy and Cooper stands at the heart of Interstellar, and is the main reason why the film works. Having the connection between a father and his children worked so well for Nolan in Inception, and works even better with Interstellar. Having a two-pronged story between Cooper and Murphy alongside a similar relationship between Brand (Hathaway) and her father (Michael Caine).
With such a stacked cast, one surprising star is T.A.R.S., a robot voiced by Bill Irwin, who brings the laughs in a movie otherwise completely humorless. Some of the best moments in the movie are supplemented by T.A.R.S., and he is a perfect compliment to the chaos within Interstellar.
Visually, Nolan has taken the epic film to the next level with Interstellar. The one regret that I have after seeing this movie was that I didn’t take full advantage of the format and see the movie in IMAX. I can only imagine how amazing the movie would look in the extra large theater, as it Interstellar was absolutely breathtaking in a standard digital cinema. Any time that a film takes place in outer space there is opportunity to take special effects to another level, and Nolan is able to accomplish that and more with his immensely pleasing space opera.
On an even playing field is the constant energy that the film exhumes. Early in the film, the crew is thrust into other planets, the water and ice planets of which have been seen in trailers and TV commercials. The events on the water planet set the tone for the rest of the film; if anyone thought that the film would take liberties with its pace, the planet that has massive waves race across its surface slams you back into your seat for another two hours of chaos.
Interstellar has plenty of moments that are simply epic. Hans Zimmer’s score perfectly sets the tone, as the composer trades in the drums of The Dark Knight Rises and the synthesizers of Inception for a haunting, organ-based score that feels like it should be in an outer space movie. It’s simply another piece of the puzzle that Nolan puts together
The one shortfall of Interstellar is the slow open. Once the shuttle launches into space, the movie takes off with it. While it still lays on the ground, the plot slows slightly, but is necessary to create the amazing, climactic payoff. And what a payoff Interstellar offers. About 90 minutes into the near three-hour opus, major twists are delivered that shape the final act. It’s a completely unexpected turn, as unintended antagonists develop on both Earth and in space (supplemented by an unannounced casting decision that is very strong) launch the movie forward right when you think that it’s going to slow to a crawl.
Interstellar is another success from Nolan. One of the best filmmakers of our time took a chance with his newest endeavor, and it might not be his best movie since the beginning of his career, but it is certainly better than a vast majority of the movies that are coming out in theaters on a regular basis. One can only hope that the efforts put forth by Gravity and Interstellar over the past two years are only beginning of the return of the space epic; it’s a genre that has devolved over the last decade and is long overdue in cinemas. But for now, go see Interstellar immediately. Nolan has once again redefined the epic film; and his newest classic lives up the massive billing.