Review: Interstellar


Interstellar, Christopher Nolan’s first movie since his groundbreaking Dark Knight trilogy, follows a group of explorers probing space in search of a new planet. Sometime in the future, Earth is decaying. Crops are dying off every year and dust storms, reminiscent of the 1930’s Dust Bowl, routinely roll into town.

With NASA nearly disbanded, the crew for the mission consists of just four members – The lead Cooper, (Matthew McConaughey) a single father of two who once flew for NASA but is now a farmer since “The world doesn’t need more engineers.” Brand (Anne Hathaway), the daughter of Professor Brand (Michael Caine) the man who brought the team together. The final two members are Doyle (The Hunger Games’ Wes Bentley) and Romilly (David Gyasl).

Their mission is to enter a mysterious wormhole near Saturn that will transport them to another galaxy. With limited fuel and resources they must find one of three potentially inhabitable planets for Plan A – resettling the human race a new planet or Plan B – if they don’t have the resources to return to home, settle on the new planet use thousands of eggs and embryos on-board to restart the human race.

The heart of the film is Cooper and his relationship with his daughter Murphy. A father risking everything for the hope, no matter how small,  that his daughter won’t starve to death of Earth. A daughter who believes her dad is a hero but hopes, no matter how small the chance is, that he will return home from space. Their relationship can be summed up in a scene where Cooper returns from probing a planet to look at videos from his family. Thanks the the theory of relativity, Cooper finally gets a look at just how much time has passed. It’s outstanding acting by  McConaughey. This is by far his best scene and he doesn’t say a word.

When Interstellar is a space exploration film with crazy planets, mind bending black hole theories, and sarcastic  robots, it’s good. When the film gets a little deeper into the existential crisis and the lengths people will go to survive, it’s pretty damn good. The conversations about space, time, and relativity are fascinating.  None of it comes across too science-y or something only Neil deGrasse Tyson could understand. Even Brand’s speech about love being an unquantifiable force doesn’t sound like intellectual vomit from some Twilight fan fiction.

Matt Damon is electric  with the little time he has onscreen. Even in a scaled down role, Damon delivers his character’s metamorphosis in a just a few lines. His character’s monologue is brief but deals with mankind’s uneasy relationship with morality and mortality.

Christopher Nolan & Co. gets a lot of things right. The scale and scope of the planets are amazing. Nolan has a gift of sucking audiences into a world that feels real. That’s why he’s one of the most sought after directors in Hollywood today. The movie has humor, emotion, action, and drama all wrapped up in a space odyssey about relationships and survival. .

In honor of keeping this review spoiler free, I have to two-step around some of the film’s issues. The biggest issue being the string of coincidences that tie everything together during the final act. Things tie together a little too neat. Not only are the events that take place head scratching, the film doesn’t really need those moments to hold the story together. The only purpose they serve is to be the surprise at the end that hooks the audience. Except  it’s not really a surprise and the film doesn’t really a “A-ha” moment. Anyone who’s ever seen a motion picture could see that coming from a mile away. There’s also an entire plot points that could’ve been removed without altering any of the film’s other (and more interesting) story lines.This could easily shave 45 minutes off the film’s runtime.

Interstellar isn’t a masterpiece; it isn’t Nolan’s best work. Yet, it’s still a very well put together film that’s delightfully more interesting than it seems. There’s extra parts of the story that don’t do much but weigh the rest of the movie down. The 2hr 47 min runtime is going to make it difficult for audiences to sit through, but Interstellar will be a movie moviegoers will enjoy the more they watch it.

Grade: B-