9 out of 10
I left the cinema after seeing Interstellar feeling many things; awe, astonishment, but what I did not feel was certainty that I loved the movie. This review is written after one viewing where I can only recommend a proper judgement after a second, but having let Interstellar sit with me for 48 hours, my opinion has affirmed itself in my head.
Matthew Mcconaughey plays Cooper, an ex NASA pilot turned farmer in the wake of blight killing Earth’s food and launching the planet onto the brink of human extinction. When Cooper stumbles on an old NASA base, Michael Caine’s Dr Brand encourages him to lead a crew, including his own daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway) on a space expedition through a wormhole to find a new planet for Earth’s residents.
For a movie of such a huge, massive scale, the cast do astonishingly well to ground it with a beating heary. Mcconaughey easily slides into character as the ‘alright alright alright’ stereotype he has become-Cooper, a hardy yet sensitive family man, desperate to fulfil the promise he made to his daughter of returning from the journey. Hathaway is reserved, chillingly so, as Amelia, who partners well with Cooper in a dynamic that makes for intense conflict, but often funny moments. The funniest scenes though are stolen by ironically the robots, Tars and Case, Tars with his brilliant humour setting and deadpan sarcasm, voiced well by Bill Irwin. Michael Caine is good as Michael Caine.
The scale cannot be stated enough. A movie that sees Cooper start in a desolate farm house and journey to the centre of a black hole sounds tremendously difficult to pull off… but this is Christopher Nolan and he (just about) does it. The effects are mind-blowing, using Kip Thorne, real astro-physicist to guide him, Nolan’s team have pulled off some amazing visuals that startle, entertain and even confuse the eye. The sight of a super massive black hole is something to behold, even on a cinema screen. The theatre I watched it at had cranked the sound up 3 times louder than usual… this made it all the more brilliant… and all the more terrifying. Never have I felt so alienated in space during a sci- fi movie, and with Nolan’s masterful hand at direction, never have I felt like I was having a heart attack in the horrifyingly tense action scenes.
It should also be noted that this tension is heightened by the accurate physics; relativity means that on one of the the planets, every 1 hour is 7 years on Earth; you can feel Cooper’s grasp on his promise to his daughter slipping, literally by the second. You want these characters to succeed. While they are out their battling huge tsunamis and black holes, you never forget about the children at home. This is fantastically worked in by Nolan who has well and truly smashed the perception of him as a ‘cold’ director.
And it wouldn’t be a Nolan movie without the twists and turns along the way. Relatively straight forward throughout, the final act plunges us firmly into Nolan territory. A zig zagging maze of full circle completeness topped off with jaw dropping twists and revelations. The plot is dangerously complicated here, Nolan trusts his audience just enough to figure out just enough… and this is ‘just.’ I left confused, but mulling over it in my head, I figured it all out in the end and when I did, Interstellar became a masterpiece and certainly more than a simple journey to rescue mankind; this is a movie about the human being. If you don’t like it first time, watch it twice. The 3 hours whiz by.
Then why wasn’t I sure I enjoyed it? I don’t think Hans Zimmer was on top form. His music, as always, is impressive here, but the chilling and dramatic organ pieces don’t really rival the brilliance of his work in the Dark Knight trilogy and Inception; his reputation may have betrayed him. What else? Nolan uses cross-cut editing well back to Earth as Cooper’s daughter desperately searches for the gravity solution which will allow Earth’s population to depart the planet… the final act involving her is not as dramatic as Nolan thinks, but it’s still good. Topher Grace aka ‘Venom’ is in it.These are minor issues (except the Topher Grace matter) that in no way damage the overall masterpiece that is Interstellar. It may not be my favourite movie, or even my favourite Nolan movie, but even if not to be enjoyed, Interstellar has to be seen. There has never been a movie so tense, well directed and visually stunning as this, and there likely won’t be for a long time more. Well, until Nolan’s next movie of course.
Thrilling, tense and emotional, Interstellar is a huge success, even if it strays on being a bit too intelligent. “Do not go quietly into that good night”, crank up your speakers to full volume, sit back and enjoy the ride.