Movie Review – Interstellar (2014)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, John Lithgow, Matt Damon, Wes Bentley, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, Mackenzie Foy, Ellen Burstyn, Topher Grace, Bill Irwin, Josh Stewart, Timothée Chalamet, David Gyasi

And I think that’s just about it. Big cast! Interstellar is an epic film that is set at some distant (or not too distant) point in the future where the crops our failing and our time on Earth may be limited. After stumbling upon a NASA base, Cooper (McConaughey) joins a team that leaves Earth to try and find a new home for humanity.

Wow. This film is incredible. It combines some good sci-fi concepts with a solid emotional core, so it affects the mind and the heart. It starts off by presenting us with a desperate world where the moon landings are widely believed to have been faked, and most of humanity’s efforts are directed into farming. Cooper was an engineer but he was forced into farming, and while his son Tom (Chalamet, later played by Affleck) is going to be a good farmer his daughter Murphy (Foy, later played by Chastain and Burstyn) is far more precocious. This grounded serves as a good foundation for the later crusade into space, which is blended seamlessly with shots of Cooper driving away from his farmhouse leading into the shuttle taking off, all accompanied by a soaring Hans Zimmer score.

The film continually parallels Earth and space as we move through time and we see how the journey affects Cooper and his crew, and how the situation on Earth is developing. The emotional core I talked about mainly consists of the relationship between Cooper and Murphy. Each actress who plays Murphy does a fantastic job, particularly Foy. McConaughey pours his body and soul into his role, and he is the conduit through which we experience the film. However, although this father-daughter relationship is a high point it does mean that his relationship with his Tom comes off as an afterthought, and there seems a strange imbalance with the siblings.

Cooper’s crew, assisted by some stylish robots, are a good team and complement each other well. Hathaway probably has the third-best role in the film, but I liked their adventure into space. The visuals are astonishing, whether its the landscape of a planet, the shuttle and space station docking, or travelling through a wormhole, it’s a real feast for the eyes. It harkens back to classic sci-fi films, but I think the concepts of relativity and black holes etc are explained well enough for the layman to understand. People who read and watch a lot of sci-fi will find a few plot developments quite predictable from the offset, but despite this they are still emotionally resonant due to the humanity given to the characters.

Speaking of humanity, this is pretty much an ode to our species. It shows that even though we have our flaws we can transcend our limitations and reach out to survive and evolve. I won’t go into spoiler territory, but there is a certain character that represents our greed and fear, yet we can overcome these. It’s the type of sci-fi I love and it comes at a time when dystopian films are so in vogue. The philosophy behind this film is very positive and hopeful, and it is all distilled into the character of Cooper.

I believe the skill of Nolan here is in making a high-concept sci-fi film that is also emotional. There were points when I welled up with tears, points where I burst out laughing, points where I was driven to the edge of my seat with tension, and points where I simply had to gaze up at the screen in wonder.

As you can tell, I loved this film but it’s not without it’s flaws. I’ve already mentioned the disparity of the relationships Cooper has with his children. The end of the film feels…I don’t want to say anti-climactic, but it does feel a little odd, and I do think there could have been some more explanation about certain things. There is some deus ex machina going on as well, but I’m not quite sure it qualifies given that…well, you’ll have to see for yourself. It all feels a little too…convenient. Yes, I think that’s how I’ll phrase it.

Overall though I enjoyed it immensely. The score complements the visuals perfectly and when you boil it down it’s a story about humanity and our place in the universe. I loved it and I’m not sure how it’s going to hold up on second viewings because I feel at certain points it may drag, but even though it’s nearly three hours long I didn’t feel it dragging in the cinema, I was just enjoying it all unfold.


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