Thursday, 6 November 2014

Film Review: Interstellar


Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Jessica Chastain
Runtime: 169 minutes

Space, the final frontier. After tackling magicians, vigilantes and dream thieves, Christopher Nolan is blasting off into the black void of nothingness for his latest movie, Interstellar

Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Michael Caine (of course), Interstellar is a movie the like of which you will not see for a very long time. Prepare to have your socks categorically blown off, as Interstellar takes flight.

Christopher Nolan, love him or hate him, knows how to make gosh darn awesome movies. They may sometimes be grandiose or overly grim and clinical (hence the term, 'Nolanisation'), but his past work with the Batman franchise, Insomnia and Inception (amongst others) have been some of the best, and most original, pieces of cinema in the last 15 years.

In his latest cinematic voyage, Nolan is transitioning into full-blown Stanley Kubrick/Ridley Scott territory, with Interstellar journeying across the stars in search of new planets and a new hope. Safe to say, the hype has been massive - but does the movie live up to it? Well, it's bold, vast and convoluted, the kind of film you rarely see nowadays. But at the same time, it's not as seamless as some of Nolan's past work.

In a nutshell, Interstellar follows Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), an astronaut who leads a team of specialists across the solar system towards a mysterious wormhole. Their objective is to find new worlds for the human race to live on, as the Earth is slowly eroding away and can no longer sustain life. I say 'in a nutshell' because there is a lot more to it than that, and I don't want to give too much away. The less you know, the better it is - trust me.

As the various different layers are added into the movie, it becomes obvious that Interstellar is a very complex film - like Inception (which examined dreams, and dreams within dreams), Interstellar is all about space travel, time dilation and the theory of relativity. It's a film you really need your head screwed in for, and will most likely improve and reveal further layers with repeat watches.

That being said, I didn't once feel lost or confused. The screenwriting is superb, and Nolan effectively tackles these complex sci-fi concepts across the three-hour runtime. The final hour of the movie strays into full-blown A Space Odyssey territory, but the way in which the action is framed teaches the audience of the internal logic of the film with only a few hiccups.

As a result, I think that Interstellar isn't quite as seamless or as streamlined as Inception, a film that I consider to be near-enough perfect. Where Inception posed questions and left the answers up in the air, Interstellar strives to answer everything it puts forward - with varying degrees of success. It's full-blown science-fiction, and the assault of unfamiliar ideas warrants a degree of acceptance on behalf of the audience - essentially, suspend disbelief, and try to enjoy the ride.

It's loopy and heavy on the science, but you don't need an undergraduate degree to get your head around it. Nolan also leans heavily on the various philosophical and ethical conundrums our characters face. For the most part, they work and don't weigh down the sense of mysticism and adventure.

Where the film excels is in its casting - the whole ensemble is simply supreme. Matthew McConaughey is, as we've come to expect, amazing. There is really nothing I can fault his performance on. Torn between his family on Earth, and his destiny hidden amongst the stars, Cooper is a character that feels fully-fleshed out from the get-go.

Anne Hathaway, a fellow astronaut called Brand, is also excellent - whilst her character is thrust firmly into a supporting role, her performance is great and one scene she shares with McConaughey inside the Ranger module particularly struck me for her acting ability. David Oyelowo and Wes Bentley complete the expedition team, and the former is particularly good as Principal, a scientist.

Jessica Chastain, who plays McConaughey's grown-up daughter Murphy, briefly steals the limelight in the film's second half, as her character grapples with her father's absence growing-up. It's emotional, gut-wrenching stuff, wonderfully handled by Chastain. The younger version of Murphy is played by Mackenzie Foy, who asserts herself firmly as a star of the future.

The score, composed by Hans Zimmer, is spellbinding and the direction is also hard to pick fault with. The scenes set in space are jaw-droppingly gorgeous, and the foreknowledge that Nolan utilised as little green screen as possible only makes the film that more impressive. Like Gravity, Interstellar is one of those films you just HAVE to see on the big screen.

There are only a few drawbacks I can pinpoint from Interstellar. Firstly, the three-hour runtime is a bit of a grind at times. The film isn't paced slowly, but there is a fifteen-minute stretch at the end where I felt the plot could've been trimmed back a bit. Plus, Nolan balances his time between the crew and Earth, with the (sometimes rapid) switching back and forth jumbling the film's flow.

All of this boils down to one question - where does it rank alongside Nolan's past films? Is it his best yet? Put simply - no, I don't think so. Inception has a greater final act, The Prestige has that 'WTF-factor' and The Dark Knight is, well, The Dark Knight. Interstellar is bold, that much is obvious. But I found that the overall impact wasn't as punchy or emotionally-resonant.

Don't let that put you off however - Interstellar is easily one of the best films this year. The scope is undeniably massive, the acting is superb and it looks AMAZING. It might not be perfect, but it's hard to deny this - they don't make them like this anymore. I'll take flawed ambition and originality over mediocre and safe every of the week.

The Verdict: 8.5/10


It may not be Nolan's magnum opus, but Interstellar can't be faulted for its grand ambitions. It's a technical marvel, a film so gorgeous and visually astounding it'll make your eyeballs struggle to comprehend the magnitude and sheer scale of achievement. McConaughey impresses in the lead role, with Hathaway and Chastain equally as brilliant.

8 comments:

  1. Good review! Interstellar is hugely ambitious with its detail to science, astrophysics and suspending disbelief, and towards the it hits a few bumps in the road to maintain its. It's definitely one of my favorite movies of the year and one of the best. :)

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    1. Thanks Katy :) Ambitious is probably putting it lightly! It certainly asked a lot of its audience when it came to understanding all the sciency stuff. I still haven't decided where it ranks on my list of films for 2014, but it's in the Top 10...I think. I'll have to see how it all pans out when I've seen everything worth seeing. Still got things like Nightcrawler, Imitation Game and Birdman to come, so who knows :)

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  2. Good review! I did like McConaughey and Hathaway, as well.

    The only thing that I really disagree on is the fact that this one HAS to be seen in the theater. Honestly, the visuals were nothing too special for me. Of course, my standards are too high, at this point, but Gravity was so much better!

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    1. I can see where you're coming from Tanner - Gravity certainly had that wow factor with the visuals. Especially with that opening shot. But I'd put Interstellar on the same level. It looked amazing :)

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  3. Sorry I took so long to read this, but nice review! Damn is this movie grand in scale, haha, undeniably so. No, it's not perfect, but you can't help but admire its ambition all the same. :)

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    1. Pretty much sums it up Chris! :) Ambitious to a fault in some ways...

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  4. Yeah dear!! No doubt Interstellar is very popular and was blockbuster movie of Anne Hathaway. She has done superb job in the movie. Actually I am looking some more movies with anne hathaway which were famous and did well. Do you know any?

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    1. She's been in quite a bit over the years - Devil Wears Prada, Alice in Wonderland, Love and Other Drugs, The Dark Knight Rises, Les Miserables (for which she won an Oscar) - so plenty to choose from! I'd say my favourite (Interstellar aside of course) is Get Smart :) Not a fantastic film, but she's a great duo with Steve Carrell :)

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