Every year there comes along a handful of films that bring with it a weight of high anticipation and expectation. With past films like The Dark Knight and Inception, Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar is certainly one of those blockbusters.
The question is, after all the build-up and all the hype can it deliver on its expectation?
The answer is yes it can, for the most part Interstellar is every bit as good as one could hope it to be.
Interstellar is set in a post-apocalyptic future where the world’s crops are gradually failing one by one, ex-NASA pilot and now farmer ‘Cooper’, (Matthew McConaughey), is chosen by his former employers to lead a last ditch effort to find the rest of humanity a new home.
Aided by the strange appearance of a wormhole discovered next to Saturn, McConaughey is forced to leave behind his two children, Murphy and Tom. He is particularly close to his daughter, who is heartbroken to see him leave.
Accompanying Cooper on his voyage are Brand (Anne Hathaway), Doyle (Wes Bentley) and Romilly (David Gyasi).
Interstellar is one of the year’s most ambitious films, asking questions of time travel and human survival to name a few and for the most part, it succeeds in answering these questions.
First of all, visually it is the most stunning film you will see all year. There are scenes throughout the whole film that will leave you quite simply stunned.
The shots of the spaceship travelling around the rings of Saturn for instance, accompanied by a beautiful slow piano tune, are some of the most beautiful and well executed not only in the film but the sci-fi genre for a long time.
The central plot to the film, which is the search for a new planet for humanity to settle, is glued together brilliantly by the strong emotional relationship between Cooper and his daughter, Murphy.
Most of the early scenes involve the two bonding which make his departure from earth all the more abrupt.
Interstellar needs that emotion. Without it, there could have been a danger that the whole film would have been drowned in complicated scientific dialogue.
A criticism often aimed at Christopher Nolan is that he creates occasionally cold and emotionless characters. Whether you agree with that criticism or not, you would almost certainly have to agree that Interstellar offers its fair share of emotive characters.
That in itself is a huge achievement for a film that has to stretch our mind around the concepts of time relativity, fourth dimensions and gravitational manipulation that it finds time to explain these things (and explain them well) while also presenting well rounded multi-layered characters that are genuinely interesting.
With his new found acting renaissance, the temptation is to drop to the ground and worship Matthew McConaughey’s performance. However, the praise should go to the complex, yet engaging plot as this keeps the film accessible, no matter the lead. Though McConaughey does bring a bonus of feeling and emotion to the film that another lead might not have.
In fact the whole film is sprinkled with impressive performances with Jessica Chastain (playing an older version of Murphy) and Mackenzie Foy (playing a younger version of Murphy) being worthy of particular praise, the latter more so for showing such a strong emotional performance at such a young age.
Despite wormholes, black holes, and planets with mile high waves, the film is at its core basically about the relationship between a father and daughter. A large part of that relationship working well is down to that performance by ‘Foy’.
Underpinning the whole film is a majestic, uplifting score by Hans Zimmer.
A long-time collaborator with Nolan, Zimmer decided, in keeping with the entire film, to create an entirely fresh, original soundtrack. It adds suspense and emotion but doesn’t steal attention away from the action or dialogue. Rather it adds to it.
If there are issues with the film then they are to be found with science being pushed too far on an audience that doesn’t grasp some of the more complex aspects.
To solve this issue there are occasional moments of clunky exposition and dialogue, Brand is guilty for a few of these moments.
Those moments however are few and far between and arguably perhaps even necessary to help us get our head around the physics element. Not everyone is Neil deGrasse Tyson after all.
The film maybe doesn’t have as much narrative elegance as ‘The Dark Knight’ or the solid intricate detail and framework of ‘Inception’ but it has enough of both with more emotion and ambition to leave someone in no doubt that they are watching a film crafted by a true artist and filmmaking visionary.
Something else which is nice thing about Interstellar and Christopher Nolan is that it isn’t just another reboot, remake, prequel or sequel in the long line of franchise cash-ins.
When I look at the Cinema listings and see Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 or whatever part of Middle Earth is currently being explored, I can’t help but sigh and yearn for something fresh and innovative.
Christopher Nolan does that. When was the last time you watched something as mind-bendingly complex and original as Inception or Memento.
Overall Interstellar is an engrossing cinema experience with an almost perfect blend of detail, emotion, science and stellar performances. The kind of qualities that are sadly rare in modern blockbusters.