In his first directorial effort since the conclusion of The Dark Knight Trilogy, Christopher Nolan (Memento, Inception) turns his focus to the stars. Interstellar depicts a not-too-distant future in which the earth’s ability to sustain life is quickly diminishing and society is on the verge of collapse.
The story follows former NASA test pilot, Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), as he tries to keep his family afloat amidst the planet’s declining state. Cooper decodes a message from a “Ghost” haunting his 10-year old daughter Murphy’s (Mackenzie Foy) room, which is revealed to be coordinates that lead the duo to a secret NASA base.
This is all headed by Professor Brand (Michael Caine, Children of Men), who so happens to need a pilot for his super secret mission to save the earth by use of a wormhole– apparently “placed” for human use. The wormhole thus transport a small crew, featuring Professor Brand’s daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway), to the farthest reaches of space in hopes of finding inhabitable planets. Sound like a bit of a stretch? I thought so too. But if you don’t think about it too much, it’s easy to move past.
It’s after this sequence that the film really starts to take flight. After a rocky farewell with daughter Murphy, Cooper is off to the stars. The space cinematography is gorgeous. Nolan and team did a phenomenal job of capturing the empty vastness of space; choosing silence for the exterior space shots does wonders for the tone, as well– something that a film like Gravity was missing (even though I loved that film).
There are a bunch of scientific theories that are played around with throughout the film, which according to Neil Degrasse Tyson (Cosmos) are mostly sound. It’s this basis in scientific theory that makes of Interstellar‘s more interesting aspects: Time in space also moves slower than time on earth, adding an extra dimension to earths survival.
We’re treated to the landscape of a few alien worlds, and a certain scene featuring a certain insurmountable force of nature almost left me breathless; and watching the advanced flow of time play out was nothing more than chilling. But these scenes are far and few in between. Personally, I would have loved to have seen more of this and a little less of the sentimentality that permeates the film. By the time we reach the ending, whatever scientific credibility that was built up is almost diminished thanks to a pretty hokey last act, which no doubt will leave many scratching their heads in confusion.
I couldn’t help but finding myself comparing the film to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Blasphemous to even think of it, I know, but to sum it up, Interstellar feels like an action/thriller version of 2001, but nowhere near as effective; 2001 Lite, if you will. Overall the film’s pros outweigh its cons — unless you consider the price of a big city IMAX ticket — and whether you’re a fan of Nolan fan and/or sci-fi, you could do a lot worse at the movies.