Interstellar Review: Nolan's Best Yet

Christopher Nolan has proven himself as a box-office draw.  This is due in large part to his apparent ability to capture awe on film.  Whether it be planting ideas in dreams, psychotic clowns or illusionists with dark secrets, Nolan has shown he is capable of capturing audiences'  attention, while leaving them with incredibly memorable experiences.  Interstellar is no different.

While it is customary to divulge the basic plot of films, I feel that the trailers for the film left audiences with only a vague idea of the plot, and I feel that was done intentionally.  I am so grateful I was able to see the film with little idea of the plot.  Suffice it to say, humanity finds itself in a world in which food has become scarce.  Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a reluctant pilot-turned-farmer and father, is tasked with piloting a mission to space to save humanity with a small team, including Anne Hathaway as Amelia Brand.

Even though the journey taken by the film's hero's is full of unexpected turns, I will say the general idea of the film's big "mind-F" moment became somewhat apparent to me before it actually occurred.  I don't know if this is because I have watched enough Nolan movies to know what kind of ending he likes to close his films with, or if the ending was really that obvious.  Whatever the reason, I found that it in now way ruined the satisfaction I felt.  For the first time in a Nolan film I cared more about the characters themselves than the tangled plot, and discovering the "mystery" at the center of the film. 

Of course, with the Nolan brothers writing, there is a bevy of interesting, likable characters.  Matthew McConaughey delivers a moving, powerful performance as the story's hero and the chemistry between Anne Hathaway and Matthew McConaughey is very compelling as well.  The rest of the cast which includes the likes of Michael Caine, John Lithgow, Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain perform their roles to perfection.  It is a very rare treat to see a movie in which none of the performances are over or under done.  

Like any good sic-fi film, Interstellar delves into some very deep, thought-provoking themes.  It explores the idea of what it means to be human, and what place certain human emotions have in our rationale.  It also includes these regarding time and what we do with it.  The themes are complex and intertwined throughout the whole plot.  This fact, mingled with the film's heavy exploration of theories studied in Astrophysics and Quantum Physics can make for a difficult film to digest.  This sounds funny saying this since it is a movie and all, but I honestly suggest brushing up on Einstein's "Theory of Relativity" (especially regarding Time Dilation) as well as other subjects such as wormholes and blackholes.  I also suggest reading, at the very least, the Wikipedia page of Kip Thorne, the film's scientific advisor and theorist who conceptualized much of what is seen in the film.  Brushing up on the science behind the film will hep you better understand what is going on with the plot, and will add to your overall enjoyment.

In addition to getting ideas from Kip Thorne, it's pretty clear that the Nolan brothers took a lot of inspiration from 2001: A Space Odyssey  when it comes to the look and feel of Interstellar.  This isn't surprising considering how much Christopher Nolan loves Stanley Kubrick's films.  Like the 1968 classic, Interstellar has incredible visuals, capturing the majesty, and brutal nature of space.  The alien worlds seen in this film look, well alien.  Nolan (and Hoyte Van Hoytema the film's cinematographer)  masterfully combine real locales with beautiful CGI backdrops to create some of the most breathtaking sci-fi landscapes I have ever seen in film.  While the special effects my not be quite as revolutionary as those found in Inception, they are nevertheless breathtaking. 

Unlike 2001: A Space Odyssey, Nolan's film has a much faster pace, which is good considering the fact that Interstellar is nearly three hours long.  Honestly, I was worried when I saw how long this film was, but my worries were all for naught.  The film is paced perfectly, making for a very entertaining, fast three hours.

Complimenting the films- ahem- stellar performances and visuals is the score provided by the great Hans Zimmer.  I feel like Nolan and Zimmer are the new Spielberg and Williams-- They complement each other so well.  Zimmer's score for Interstellar is easily his best.  As a composer who is known for using a great deal of percussion, especially for Nolan films, it was nice to hear piano music and organ music.  The grandiosity of space is beautifully accentuated by the booming, bone shaking organ music that swells from time to time.

Speaking of bone shaking, seeing this film as it was intended to be seen, on the IMAX screen is something of a double-edged sword.  The huge visuals and booming sound make for an unforgettable experience, especially during the film's third act, but sadly much of the dialog is muffled, making it nearly unintelligible.  This is actually a problem I have had with multiple Nolan movies, and one which really should have been fixed by now.  Muffled dialog aside, the sound design for this film is top-notch.

The Wrap-Up

The Good:

+Intelligently written, with solid, real science behind the fiction.

+Perfect performances, especially by Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chasten.

+Incredible, awe-inspiring visuals.

+Impressive, moving score by Hans Zimmer.

The Bad:

-Muffled dialog in the IMAX theater

The Ugly:

There is nothing ugly about this movie.  It is beautiful.

The Verdict:

10 out of 10

The film's heavy science content and heavy themes may be a bit much for some viewers, but overall the film is a masterpiece.  Every aspect of the film is well-done, from the actors' performances to the literally fantastic visuals to Hans Zimmer's best work there is a whole lot to love about this film.  Being bitterly disappointed with The Dark Knight Rises, it's  good to see Nolan back on top.  The film contains some intense scenes, some swearing (including one instance of the "F-Bomb") no sexuality and is rated PG-13.  

 

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