Attempting to blur the lines between science fiction and science fact, Interstellar, the latest from Christopher Nolan, is everything we’ve come to expect from one of cinema’s most adventurous storytellers. Like his previous foray into sci-fi, it’s polished, intelligent, and visually astounding, and while criticism has been levelled at him before for the coldness of his movies, Interstellar packs an emotional wallop.
Set in a future just a generation away, the Earth’s population are slowly starving to death as crops fail and our resources erode away. Cooper is a failed astronaut who has turned to farming the land, eking out an existence with his kids and father-in-law. His daughter, Murph, starts seeing some strange gravitational phenomena in their home which leads to the discovery of a place where a final shot at saving mankind is being cobbled together. Forced to leave his kids behind as he sets off for the stars, Coop’s is burdened with ensuring the future of the species while trying to fulfill a promise to his kids.
Interstellar explores such lofty topics as quantum mechanics, wormholes, singularities, and the theory of relativity. It revels in the science of space exploration, and to Nolan’s credit he never once waters down his ideas or observations for the sake of a wider audience appeal. Rather, the complexities of travelling in the void of space are tackled and explained head on, helped considerably by the marvellous cast. McConaughey once again is a stand out, and the father / daughter relationship central to the story is given ample time to develop in the earlier scenes so as to have an impact as the journey nears it’s end.
The film looks and sounds gorgeous on the big screen, and the practical effects-work, particularly on a pair of robots called TARS & CASE, is impressive to say the least. That they add comic respite doesn’t demerit their presence; they’re another vital cog in the overall machinations of the mission and the movie itself.
It is a film to be lauded for its achievements, rather than scrutinised for it’s flaws. Yes, there is a third act character introduced whose arc seems at odds with the larger story and feels shoehorned in to add drama. Yes, for some the movie will prove to dense and inaccessible; an almost three hour advanced physics lecture mired in technical jargon. But, for every person baffled by the concepts someone else will be inspired, filled with the wonder of reaching for the stars, of pushing the boundaries of what we believe to be true.
Ambitious and grandiose in its design and scale, while never losing sight of the human side of the story, Interstellar is arguably Christopher Nolan’s best film; it is certainly his most daring and thought-provoking, and that in itself is reason enough to take the journey with him.
(Images courtesy Warner Bros, Collider, Empire)