It’s not out of the ordinary to have your mind blow after seeing a Christopher Nolan movie. After his release of Memento (2000) around 15 years ago, he made the stakes higher for brain twisting films that were both smart and truly cinematic. But this was my biggest problem with his newest science fiction endeavour Interstellar, I didn’t want all the extravagance, crazy special effects and usually good Nolan performances to get in my way of my perception of the film. This is why I decided to wait a day before finally writing down my thoughts on his new mind boggling film.
The truth, despite tons of people complaining about the film’s “plot holes” and scientific problems (I’ll stop talking about this after this sentence), Interstellar is truly a great piece of entertainment. It’s got a full package of cinematic achievements from the frames to the direction to the wonderful ensemble – the film is a full blown Hollywood epic that will indeed transcend in the mind of cinema lovers over the next few years. Nolan makes it his point to bend people’s minds, and even though his open ended finales are usually something that keeps people complaining for a long time, it’s his way of storytelling and keeping his stories alive and relevant for as long as it’s remembered.
Without getting too much into the story, we follow Matthew McConaughey’s character Cooper, a former astronaut who makes his way to another galaxy (with fellow actors as his co-workers, notably Anne Hathaway) to look for a new planet in which humans can move to. This is because the world is already suffering from environmental problems causing it to decay and die. The remarkable thing about Interstellar’s storyline (without judging it scientifically) is that it’s a lot of fun to watch, and the kind of entertainment that you go to see at the movies. Earlier science fictions flicks made in the 1950s were looked at as outrageous and cheap, until Stanley Kubrick brought to life 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), and since then the genre has grown and evolved over the years. This time, Nolan adds his own watermark to the genre, shortly after Cuaron’s Gravity (2013) and belongs to a generation of filmmakers who has made it into a more a serious and yet very fun movie going experience.
The soul core of the film however isn’t the screenplay or even Nolan’s fast paced (but typical, at least for him) direction. McConaughey’s Cooper (fresh from an Oscar win from last year’s Dallas Buyers Club) is truly a revelation for characters that are original conceptions within the Nolan brother’s movie universe. Cooper isn’t only the All American hero who is conflicted and strong, but he holds a classic movie star aura around him that is reminiscent of heyday actors like Gary Cooper at their prime. The actor’s resurrection from Hollywood has been impressive within the smaller art house pictures, but Interstellar reminds us all that McConaughey is in fact a movie star and this time in a positive light. He brought to life a splendid portrayal of pain and strength in an exciting three hour package. In my opinion, it’s his best performance to date.
Nolan’s supporting ladies are more then just props this time around. Anne Hathaway comes back with her first big Hollywood pictures since her Oscar win, as the devoted and emotionally wrenched Dr. Brand, along for Coop’s journey. Jessica Chastain, who plays Cooper’s aged daughter (Coop doesn’t age because time is relative in another galaxy), is just what you expect from the up and rising actress and she elevates what could have been a paper thin character. Can’t say much about the rest of the men in the film. Matt Damon sticks out like a sour thumb between the men and does a great job in a small roll. Michael Caine remains the dispensable Christopher Nolan wise-man character that has become boring. And Casey Affleck and Topher Grace played planks of wood wonderfully…sense the sarcasm.
The eye popping visuals effects, though fades in comparison with the spectacle that was Gravity, is still a sight for sour eyes. But the film flourished more in true cinematic elements that didn’t involve much CGI, like it’s cinematography (beautiful fields, dust covered homes, planets of ice and oceans, the lighting within the spacecraft) which is quite admirable. But the true MVP of the technical aspects of the film is Hans Zimmer’s score. If this original musical score doesn’t get an Oscar nomination, I wouldn’t know what to say. Zimmer’s score is probably one of his best works to date. His use of a Church organ brings back an old Hollywood sound that was both impressive and fit perfectly for the very emotional punch the film was giving the audience. It was so original, but gave me the uplifting and exciting factor that 2001: A Space Odyssey gave me, and the epic and romanticism that Dr. Zhivago (1965) threw at my heart.
I don’t know how this rates within the rest of Nolan’s pictures. It’s definitely no The Dark Knight (2008), but it’s on par with his mind shattering Inception (2010) in terms of quality. However, performance-wise, the cast of Inception was no match at all. Solid work from a very consistent filmmaker. If you go see the film, stop criticising the scientific mumbo jumbo and plot holes and enjoy it for what it is: a technical achievement, with wonderful acting and a super sonic science fiction storyline that the screen has failed to see in a long time.