Acclaimed director Christopher Nolan ventures out into space in his latest film, one that is both ambitious and breathtaking. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain the film focuses for a long time on Earth. The planet is dying and astronaut/pilot Cooper (McConaughey) must risk never seeing his family again as he and a crew of astronauts embark on a perilous journey through a wormhole in search of a habitable planet to ensure mankind’s continued survival. This sci-fi movie certainly offers value for money coming in at around 2 hours and 50 minutes. While by no means a perfect film, Interstellar is not only one of the best sci-fi films in recent memory but an epic rollercoaster that sticks with you long after the credits roll.
First of all, Interstellar is visually stunning, from the bleak and windswept Earth to the silent vastness of space the film succeeds in showcasing a spectacle throughout. The cinematography of Cooper’s ship in space is wonderful to watch and Hoyte Van Hoytema does a great job of establishing the insignificance of humanity in relation to the gigantic openness and size of space. Much of Interstellar’s beauty is captured in its environments, from the emptiness of a planet’s landscape to the interior of the spaceships everything is meticulously established and realised. This effect doesn’t fade either despite the film’s long running time and if there’s anything you can say about Interstellar its that it never looks dull. The visuals suit the grand and epic scope of the film to the ground without overwhelming the audience leaving no doubt in my mind that, in a similar way to Gravity, this is best seen on the big screen.
Nevertheless, don’t let the film’s blockbuster credentials fool you. Interstellar has an emotional, human story at its centre. The plot revolves solely around Cooper and his family making this a fairly personal and intimate film too. There are heartbreaking moments as well as triumph in the film and Matthew McConaughey does an excellent job as Cooper, who at his heart is a father who misses his family while he is out in space. Anne Hathaway also does well as Brand, one of the scientists who accompanies Cooper and is another touchstone for Earth’s humanity in her approach to the job of exploration. Special mention should also be given to Cooper’s family particularly Mackenzie Foy and Jessica Chastain as young Murph and grown-up Murph respectively. This character is at the heart of the story and is tremendous to watch throughout from thoughtful youngster to sceptical yet believable adult.
After seeing it Interstellar comes across as fantastic sci-fi. You’ll see many of the influences throughout the film in particular from 2001: A Space Odyssey. But for the most part, the film feels unique and avoids some of the tropes of the genre. As many guessed, a classic feature of sci-fi is present here: time travel. Rather than a gimmick, time travel serves the plot and the journey of Cooper nicely which is important because it’s a main thread for the characters to follow. While its difficult to explain much of the story without spoilers there are plenty of twists and turns as you would expect from a Chris Nolan film. Behind the plot is some quite philosophical and interesting themes such as the fragility of humanity, family and pioneering exploration. It doesn’t leave any easy answers and gives the audience more to ponder over once it finishes, this is often the sign of a great film, when you leave the cinema still thinking about it.
However, one of Interstellar’s greatest strengths is also a weakness in the film as a whole. There are also question marks over the plot, in particular the final third. While it isn’t impossible to wrap your head around Interstellar’s lofty concepts, it is quite difficult. Like Inception before it, it’s a film that will definitely benefit from repeat viewings but is certainly thought-provoking. While some (myself included) like a film that challenges its audience in meaningful ways, some may be put off by the lingering questions the film leaves in its trail. The film is extremely ambitious in its scope as well as its story and it does threaten to overwhelm the audience with too much ambition at times. Interstellar is intended to be an event but you should still prepare yourself for its long running time.
Overall, Interstellar’s positives outweigh its flaws. Visually stunning, emotional and good fun, its let down by an overly complex final third that leaves just a few too many questions. Nolan’s latest film challenges its audience with lofty ambitious themes at times but at its heart is a human, heartfelt story supplemented with enjoyable sci-fi throughout.
What did you think of Interstellar? Did it live up to its ambitious promises?
Let me know by commenting below.