Interstellar is a movie that could only be made by a director at a certain level; one with several, huge hits under their belt. Christopher Nolan’s film is an epic science fiction movie that doesn’t pander to the lowest common denominator. It’s a risky proposition considering it isn’t based on any existing material and even more so when you take into account that large portions of the movie involves people standing around talking about quantum physics. It’s bold and Nolan knows this – you can almost feel his glee as he pushes the envelope of 21st Century blockbuster filmmaking.
The earth is dying and most of the world has turned to farming to try and sustain a meagre existence in a dusty climate. The name of NASA has become tarnished as the education systems permeates the myth that the moon landings have been faked to bankrupt the Russians. Cooper ‘Coop’ (Matthew McConaughey) is the last of a dying breed, a space cowboy who never had the chance to achieve his dreams of reaching the stars. A strange phenomenon leads Coop to Professor Brand (Michael Caine), a man eager to save the earth’s population by finding a planet that can sustain human life. Coop leaves his family to go off on a mission that is mankind’s last chance, entering a wormhole to cross space and time. Entering the wormhole means that Coop is able to communicate with his now grown-up family, daughter Murph (Jessica Chastain) and son Top (Casey Affleck), who are both heartbroken that their father left them.
Nolan’s film is clearly inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey – the benchmark for this type of science fiction drama. He keeps the CGI to a minimum, choosing to use practical effects and real locations to create a sense of realism. Hoyte van Hoytema’s cinematography complements this, giving things an almost documentary authenticity. These images feed into Astrophysicist (and executive producer) Kip Thorne’s input into the script which Nolan wrote with his brother Jonathan. The science here is very believable. This is as close to science fact as you can get in science fiction. Hans Zimmer‘s stunning score adds an additional layer that gives Interstellar a dream-like sense of melancholy.
Matthew McConaughey gives yet another captivating performance as the pilot who never had the ability to show that he had ‘the right stuff’. McConaughey has an intense way of portraying silence that adds an extra dimension to Coop’s eagerness to get back home to his family. In true Christopher Nolan fashion, the director surrounds McConaughey with an impressive supporting cast. Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Wes Bentley, Casey Affleck and Topher Grace add interesting shades to the story. Meanwhile Nolan’s good luck charm, Michael Caine, helps make the delivery of heavy scientific exposition highly palatable.
Many accuse Christopher Nolan of making films which are sterile and clinical and Interstellar may be precise but there’s a lot of emotion woven into the tale. The plot may take a mind-bending turn in the last act but there’s still a lot of heart pumping the science around this personal, yet epic science fiction drama.
Interstellar looks and sounds glorious on blu-ray and it comes stacked with hours of special features. These cover every facet of the production as well as the science behind the movie. Excellent.