Just simply by being the next Christopher Nolan movie, Interstellar started off with lofty expectations for it to live up to. After all, this was the next film from the mind behind The Dark Knight and Inception, and if he could change the way we thought about Batman and dreams, what could he do to space? Then when he casts Hollywood’s golden boy Matthew McConaughey in the lead role and fills the cast with nothing but notable talent, it was poised to be the next incredibly showpiece for IMAX, as his films tend to be.
Even then, whether it would live up to its expectations was the second question on most people’s minds, right behind: “what the hell is Interstellar?” We’ve had a number of trailers and television spots, but none of them painted a clear picture of what the actual plot was other than McConaughey was going to space. The nebulous nature of the marketing only increased the mystery surrounding Interstellar’s release.
It was a gamble, but one that definitely paid off. Interstellar is a beautifully constructed sci-fi epic that, like any well regarded sci-fi tale, blends modern day concerns about the future with fascinating visualizations and explorations of theoretical science. Whether you like the characters or not, it is almost impossible to argue that this film is nothing short of astounding. From the opening until the credits rolled you can feel Nolan’s intentions. This is the movie he wanted to make and nothing feels compromised.
Humanity overcrowded the Earth, then had to abandon its advances to return to farming culture just to support the population. Now even that is threatened as a Dust Bowl effect and blight is killing off crops one species at a time. McConaughey’s Cooper is piloting an exploratory journey to a new planet; he’s piloting the last chance at humanity’s survival. The plot isn’t anything groundbreaking, but the tiny details make it feel new. Overpopulation and starvation are a common fear found in sci-fi, but having another Dust Bowl is a fascinating element that breathes new life into the concept. And it isn’t alone, many of the character beats and plot elements you’ve seen before, but the small twists or brilliant performances allow them to feel fresh.
Interstellar is so much more than its plot or characters, not to say that there aren’t some award worthy performances, but this is a film meant to astound, meant to amaze. It succeeds on the front beyond any expectations I had. There is a particular scene that I won’t spoil, but the theoretical science made visual effect left me in awe. It wasn’t the only spectacular visual scene either, between every character moment would be another visually arresting moment. Even if the plot wasn’t good, this is a film just worth looking at.
If 2001: A Space Odyssey was the first great step forward for science fiction film, Interstellar is the second. Just as Stanley Kubrick captured the majesty of space in 2001 while weaving it around a more traditional story of an A.I. gone wrong, Nolan has crafted the most breathtaking shots of space within film thus far and woven it around a traditional story of a man trying to protect his family. And where Kubrick left us with an ending meant to be ambiguous, Nolan managed to stick to the tradition of sci-fi getting strange at the end while remaining within an understandable realm of science. Go see Interstellar in IMAX and get lost in its beauty.
In Theaters: November 7th, 2014
Runtime: 169 min
Rating: Rated PG-13 for some intense perilous action and brief strong language.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Matt Damon, Casey Affleck, John Lithgow
Genre: Adventure, Sci-Fi
Studio: Legendary Pictures
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Official Site: http://www.interstellar-movie.com/