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REVIEW — “Interstellar”

Christopher Nolan unleashes another epic masterpiece on audiences with “Interstellar”, an emotional tour de force than spans the heavens.


The film opens with a number of documentary style interviews showing elders describing the hardships they experienced.  While many may believe this to be a flashback sequence, what’s fascinating is that besides one actress, they are all actual interviews from Americans who lived through the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.  Nolan uses this and other relevant concerns to weave a cautionary tale during the first act of “Interstellar.”   Humans have nearly died out, and “blight” is wiping out all the crops.  Soon, only corn will be left.  Man has abandoned its materialistic gluttony and is now focused solely on staying alive.  As one character puts it, “The world no longer needs engineers, we need farmers.”  Along with discarding their consumerism, mankind has also lost its curiosity.  NASA was disbanded, no one invents anything new, and even medical specialists have dropped their profession in lieu of farming.  It mirrors the fear of complacency many Americans have now that NASA’s funding has been chopped.  The general populace takes for granted all the technology that was created as by-products of our space exploration.


This is another movie where it is impossible to discuss any plot points without spoiling the audience’s excitement in watching the story unfold.  In fact, the uncertainty of where we will end up is one of the film’s themes.  But this is not just 3 hours of tree-hugging, NASA propaganda. At its core is a surprisingly emotional tale of a father’s love for his family.  Even though it’s the classic parable of “what sacrifices would you make for the ones you love,” it’s incredibly compelling and touching.


Nolan taps Hitchcock’s love of taking an ordinary man and thrusting him into extraordinary circumstances.  Matthew McConaughey plays Cooper, an ex test pilot and engineer who the world no longer needs.  Provided a one-in-a-million shot at saving the world, he must choose between staying with his family, or leaving them behind so that they might live.  The choices he and his family make, and their results, are heart-wrenching.


Visually the movie is stunning, especially on 70mm IMAX screens, which is truly the only way this film should be seen.   Nolan doesn’t reserve the full IMAX shots for just the space scenery, but also uses it to punctuate highly emotional scenes in the first act.  It’s an interesting choice that definitely works.  Although most of the scenes and shots are genius, there are a few that seem oddly out of place.  A number of times we are given fixed views of large air/spacecraft wings that film almost the entire screen.  Only a corner of the shot reveals the sky or space beyond.  Nolan is such a meticulous director, that these were obviously chosen for a reason, but aesthetically it just feels wrong.   Similarly, the writing is mostly genius.  Some very real theories in physics relating to time,space, and gravity are used to great effect, but there’s also a heavy dose of luck and unlikeliness used to tie up some loose ends.  The dialogue is all exceptional as well, except for a very clunky monologue about believing love to be a quantifiable force in nature.  Thankfully, in the grand scheme of this epic narrative, these are some very minor gripes, and are easily excused.


The best films always work on a multiple of levels.  They challenge or mind, our preconceptions, and touch our hearts.  “Interstellar” is the rare movie that achieves all of this with ease, and is among the very best cinematic experiences of 2014.

5 out of 5 Stars

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