Directed by Christopher Nolan
Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine
It's no secret that Christopher Nolan has implanted himself into a list of directors that have nearly no misses on their respective resumes. Whether a Spielberg movie is an Oscar-worthy masterpiece or a fun blockbuster, you know what to expect. The same goes for Nolan, who presents his newest mind-bending trope in Interstellar, a science fiction film that is equal parts homage to Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey and head-scratching thrill ride. It may not be Nolan's best film, but it is perhaps his most ambitious.
Set during an undisclosed, but not-too-distant, future Earth, Interstellar is quick to focus on a particular family living in a picture perfect American farmhouse, surrounding by fields of corn. While it may seem to be the epitome of the American dream, the everyday we are used to is anything but ordinary in this version of the planet. A dust storm literally takes over the land almost daily, leaving the inhabitants coughing and the surrounding a dull, gray color. As the Earth literally begins destroying itself, the fight for human survival begins, somewhat unknowingly. We're never told how long this apocalypse has been occurring, but it seems like it has become quite the norm. Cooper, the patriarch of the small, mother-less family, uncovers a set of coordinates, with help from his young daughter, Murph. These coordinates lead the two to a secret government location and, before we know it, Cooper is on a shuttle mission directed at finding a new home for all of Earth's inhabitants.
The summary alone leaves plenty to be explained and Nolan, as we've seen in his other works, doesn't worry about overly explaining anything. Figuring it out and discussing it is part of the fun. In the case of Interstellar, Nolan may be a little too baiting with the techno-babble. While the story is compelling enough, the science around takes away from any mystery or emotional depth. There are big scientific terms and named theories tossed around as if to cover those tracks, but a little more explanation would have done the film some good. This would have, however, increased the already dedicated time to beyond 3 hours (the movie sits at over 2 and half as is). In turn, this presents Nolan's largest misstep with Interstellar. The film seems to be pieces of an even bigger, livelier story. There is a lot of information to cover, so maybe it is better that things seem to jump here and there. But, without solid backing behind the events we're seeing take place, it's hard to feel completely invested in the mission at hand.
One thing Nolan has done right is that he's gathered a pretty impressive roster of A-list talent that completely knocks it out of the park. Matthew McConaughey, as Cooper, gives another reason to claim his renaissance as truly affective. He's emotionally invested in every piece of the story and becomes the film's brightest highlight. Anne Hathaway brings a surprising subtlety to her turn as Amelia, one of Cooper's fellow adventurers. She's strong, but easily broken. Jessica Chastain offers an equally heartbreaking performance as Cooper's adult daughter Murph. The performances are greatly complimented by the stark and beautiful score by Hans Zimmer, along with some of the most memorable visual effects of the year.
Despite the sometimes choppy pace throughout the film, Interstellar is quite a feat. There are some great shocks and truly gut-wrenching turns of events. It's hard to completely explain without giving too much away, but everything is not always as it seems. The clear salutes to the previously mentioned 2001: A Space Odyssey are present throughout the picture. What Nolan has pieced together is a piece of beautiful art worthy of the big screen. I saw the film in the 35mm format, which only enhanced the experience. It was the appropriate level of nostalgia seeing the slight graininess of the projection and the much-loved cut dot/cigarette burn in the top right corner. The picture was amazingly clear, too, which makes me wonder why we have to rely on digital projection all of the time. The effects were never in jeopardy and the film still played like a charm.
While it's easy to pick apart a movie that is supposed to be a masterpiece, at the end of it all, I haven't been able to stop thinking about Interstellar since I saw it almost 24 hours ago. It's a different type of opus when compared to last year's space epic Gravity, but a rewarding film experience nonetheless. You don't want to miss this adventure while it's on the big screen. Trust me.
Runtime: 169 minutes