Every year there is at least one movie that is highly anticipated but ends up also being highly polarizing. This year that movie is Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi epic, Interstellar. While the previews give you a glimpse of what you will see, they also hide a vast majority of the nearly 3-hour-long film. With a movie of that length there is always the chance of losing the audience in the mix of things, and when you combine that with the fact that the movie is dealing with some very complex ideas and theories, many people may come out of the movie scratching their heads. But for those who go along with what the movie has to offer, ignoring plot-holes that Nolan is famous for, they will be rewarded with the most awe-inspiring, personal, and grand film of the year.
It is pretty amazing how Nolan deftly handles the extreme magnitude of the universe while also focusing on a simple family living in the Midwest. The movie starts out simple; a man named Cooper, played by Matthew McConaughey, is living on the dusty and food-less Earth trying to raise his two children with the help of his father-in-law. That all changes when he is chosen to travel through a wormhole to hopefully find a sustainable planet in order to help save the human race from extinction. That is basically the gist of what the trailers have offered us. If I go any further you will be spoiled on a lot of the surprises the movie has to offer because once they leave Earth, things really change. At times the plot tends to jump forward without any explanation of what happened in between. One instance, which is pretty spoiler-free, is when Cooper finds out he is going to be leaving Earth. In one shot he is driving away from his house, and then immediately after the rocket is taking off. It’s moments like these that make it feel a bit rushed, but you can make the argument that it was for the right reasons.
The acting in Interstellar is some of the finest that Nolan has ever directed. McConaughey is still at the top of his game, reducing us to tears in several scenes. He is determined and also regretful. He leaves his family in order to help save the planet, but he does not know when or even if he is getting back. He is millions and millions of miles away from home and the distance really weighs down on him. He is supported by an interesting group of actors that includes Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, John Lithgow, and then some others who I won’t reveal because their appearances account for some of the surprises in the film and also constitute as spoilers. But I will say they are all fantastic; each has their connection to the mission and to Earth. This causes them to have their own flaws and motives in trying to complete it or get home.
The real star in the film though, is the absolutely magnificent visual effects. Nolan, who went back to practical effects for the film, gives us some of the most unforgettable images we are likely to see in a long time. The space scenes, obviously inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey, serve as both a love-letter and a testament to the advances we have made in the 46 years since its release. From the interior of the spaceship, to the surface of faraway planets, to the traversal of wormholes, the movie has set the bar for all sci-fi’s to come. The non-space scenes are also some of the most beautiful Nolan has ever had in a film, and it’s all thanks to Hoyte Van Hoytema, whose excellent camera work shows the haunting beauty in all reaches of the universe.
But as beautiful and spellbinding as the visuals are, the script asks us to forgive a lot of plot holes and inconsistencies as well as its lengthy duration. Not all of the plot makes sense, and the theory itself of traveling to other galaxies through wormholes is just that, a theory. Obviously if you are seeing a movie about intergalactic travel you have to have some sort of suspension of disbelief, because what it comes down to is an intensely personal story about a family, most specifically a father and a daughter, and the uncompromising bond of love. If you want to dissect the plot and point out all of its flaws you might be losing out on all of the emotion that the movie has to offer. Nolan has never mustered up nearly this much emotion in his other films, and you can certainly feel it. It also helps that Hans Zimmer has completely discarded his more familiar score that could be heard in the Dark Knight trilogy and Inception and created something fresh and mesmerizing that really adds to the atmosphere in the film.
In the end, Interstellar will leave some people questioning what they just saw, while others will be leaving the theater in amazement. It is an emotional, intergalactic adventure with excellent performances and mind-blowing visuals. It is so broad in scope yet it has as much emotion as something far less grand. Interstellar won’t be for all, though; the inconsistencies, plot holes, and length may make the movie too inaccessible. Yet, if you allow the movie to take you on the journey it wants to take you on, and you watch it for what it is, you will be treated to one of the most breathtakingly expansive sci-fi’s to come out in decades. Interstellar is a flawed, but impressive film that begs to be seen in theaters and urges you to come back for a second viewing. Don’t be afraid to go on the journey, for it is one you’re likely to never forget.