Review: Interstellar

Interstellar poster

Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine

Directed by Christopher Nolan, out now

Short review: 2001 meets Gravity.

You want more? You’re right, that’s a bit lazy, as there’s far more to say about Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi opus than those three little words. And while this is a big movie with huge ideas it also has an emotional heart to match, with the more familiar ‘three little words’ playing as much a role as the quantum physics.

Some reviewers have suggested that the movie is too ambitious for its own good, in danger of disappearing up its own proverbial black hole. At 2 hrs 45 this certainly lacks the brevity of Gravity, but while you might struggle to explain some of the physics in detail afterwards, every plot point is given plenty of clarity and there’s enough of a narrative structure to lead you through.

As you’d expect, it’s all painted on a massive canvas with spectacular location shooting, in-camera effects and a pounding ‘Phillip Glass on church organ’ Hans Zimmer score. I’m so happy that people like Nolan are given a big cheque book and are able to bring their visions to the screen.

Eschewing 3D, and stubbornly sticking to film, Nolan makes films on his own terms, and his box office returns give him this freedom. Those with ‘issues’ around the structure and resolution of Inception and The Prestige will find nothing here to shake this view, while Nolanites will revel in his familiar tropes. It’s not an entry level Nolan work, and still not his best work (surely Memento still holds that honour).

While I’m naturally predisposed to like a decent sci-fi epic, there were plenty of examples in the preceding film trailers to suggest that there’s a lot of dross being made, so let’s be grateful that Nolan is with us. Interstellar won’t be winning any awards for its screenplay – the characters converse in a disjointed manner – but it will be a travesty come Oscar time if it’s not grabbing the technical gongs for visual effects, sound, editing and more.

Go see this on the biggest possible screen (IMAX if you can) with the loudest speakers. The movie works best when you are fully immersed and means that time falls away quicker than a short jaunt to a planet on the edge of a black hole.

Are there plot holes and contrivances that are conveniently brushed over? For sure. And would astronauts really sit round a table explaining wormholes and delivering Basil Exposition’s lines for the benefit of the less scientifically-minded audience? No matter, this is a film that not only reaches for the stars but dares to set its sights even higher.

Leave your cynicism in the foyer, open your heart and get ready for the rush. Even if everything doesn’t bear close scrutiny, this is the cinematic ‘experience’ of the year to date.

Verdict: Intelligent, thoughtful, hopeful and exciting – it’s… ahem, out of this world. 8/10

Nick Joy

Check out our competition to win copies of the making-of book and the novelisation here.

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