Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, John Lithgow, Jessica Chastain, David Gyasi and Bill Irwin
Running Time: 169 minutes
Release: November 7th
With the Earth slowly dying a team of astronauts, led by pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), is recruited to explore a mysterious wormhole, with the hope of finding a new home for mankind on the other side. The decision is a tough one for Coop, as it means leaving his children behind on a dying planet, with no guarantee that he’ll be coming back. Once on the other side the team face enormous challenges, as the hostile worlds they encounter threaten to destroy the mission at any moment. Meanwhile back on Earth his children, who are now grown due to the effects of time dilution, are faced with an increasingly grim future.
Interstellar is Christopher Nolan’s (The Dark Knight Trilogy) shot at an epic science fiction tale, in the tradition of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Most of Nolan’s trademarks come into play: an ensemble cast, a time splitting narrative, a rousing score by Hans Zimmer and pages and pages of exposition. Nolan’s films have been accused of being somewhat mechanical, and far more interested in structure and function than emotion. While this sweeping judgment is a little unfair, there’s also an element of truth to it. Interstellar is positively loaded down with exposition, over-explaining every little detail, going so far as to try to explain the unexplainable mysteries of the universe. Even the overall theme of the story, that love is the great binding force of the universe, is chunkily spelled out for the viewer many, many times.
But that’s not to say Interstellar is without a heartbeat, and that comes down to some terrific performances. McConaughey continues his hot streak as Cooper, who is torn between his innate sense of adventure, and his overpowering love for his children. A scene where he silently watches video messages of his son growing up and starting his own family, just might be one of the finest scenes in his career. Credit should also go to actor Bill Irwin for his memorable vocal turn as TARS, the sarky vending machine shaped robot that assists the astronauts. While the story can get overly sentimental (lots and lots of crying here), the performers always give it the emotional grounding it needs.
Elsewhere the film contains a masterful score by Hans Zimmer, which strikes a balance between the adventure of the mission, the emotions of the characters and the cold emptiness of space. There are some striking visuals to behold, such as the spaceship travelling through the wormhole or a setpiece on a water planet. While the film is rarely boring, the near three hour runtime might test the patience of some, and a few trims wouldn’t have hurt the overall pacing. And as the story reaches the third act there are some creative decisions made that will cause some groans, as the plot wraps itself up in a way that feels far too neat and tidy.
Interstellar is ultimately an ambitious but flawed sci-fi epic. The performances are great, the score is one of Zimmer’s best and some scenes are genuinely affecting. But some of Nolan’s bad habits, such as too much baggy exposition and silly plot contrivances, weigh down the end result.