When Earth is no longer capable of supporting human life, can the human race find another place to live? That is the simplest question posed by Christopher Nolan in his newest sci-fi epic, Interstellar. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Cain and Jessica Chastain, Interstellar sees a mission from Earth go beyond our galaxy to find a new home for the human race. Watch the trailer after the jump and then read my review.
With every film he directs, Christopher Nolan gets more and more ambitious and Interstellar feels like the climax of his career. All of Nolan’s films involve deception and non-linear storytelling, but Interstellar is almost too much thinking.
So much happens in this movie that I won’t talk about because I don’t want to spoil any plot points. But know that the climate change theme that is seen in all the marketing only scratches the surface of what is really going on here.
The movie opens in a small town in the U.S. (we never find out where or when this takes place) and after establishing McConaughey as a pilot turned farmer, the plot quickly kicks into gear. And when I say quickly, I mean quickly.
Which bothered me a lot until the end. The movie creates a lot of unanswered questions early and then makes a quick 180 and sends McConaughey into space. Cain, who plays a scientist named Brand, wastes no time telling McConaughey that he is the one to go on this important mission, but doesn’t provide any training or time to make a decision. After spending 30 minutes setting up McConaughey the farmer, it took less than 10 to suddenly send him to space. It was kind of jarring.
Trying to figure out Brand’s motivation clouded my judgement for most of this movie. But one thing that was clear from start to finish is how beautiful this movie is. The scenes on Earth, with the vast fields and massive dust storms, looked great. The scenes in space looked really good too although some of the shots of the ship were repeated which stood out.
Everything that happens after McConaughey, Brand’s daughter Amelia (Hathaway) and two other astronauts go to space can’t be talked about here. There is some really beautiful shots of space travel including wormholes and other galaxies.
There are also appearances from a lot of recognizable actors. John Lithgow, David Oyelowo, Casey Affleck and Topher Grace all have small roles in the film. And one A-list actor who I won’t mention also has a small but pivotal role (although his performance was actually pretty bad).
And I don’t want to give away Chastain’s character either. But her performance is the best in the film and she keeps the film grounded. I hope she finally gets an Oscar for this role.
McConaughey is the star of the show and he plays up the drama well. As a farmer and a dad, he is at his best. As the captain of a space craft he’s good too, but not as interesting. The role required someone who can be subtle when needed and loud when needed and McConaughey is one of the best for that type of role.
Nolan has earned all of the hype and success Interstellar will get but I can’t say it is my favourite in his library. The movie poses too many big questions and runs way too long to want to watch again any time soon. Just trying to think about some of the things that happens leaves me more confused than ever.
The visual experience is worth the price of admission, but the complex script is just too much to make it an enjoyable film experience. The best movies find a balance between those two things and Interstellar just misses the mark.