Interstellar Review

Published on November 8th, 2014

Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway star in Christopher Nolan's latest film Interstellar.

Grade: B

Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated space drama hit theaters this weekend and we were just as excited and curious to check it out as you probably are. I will do my best to keep the review spoiler free because that’s half the fun. So is it worth almost 3 hours of your time to check it out?

Much of the plot had been kept under wraps. We know that they are looking to find another planet for mankind. We know it stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, and Jessica Chastain.. we know they go into space and clearly it’s dangerous, but beyond that the previews really didn’t tell you much. Honestly I kind of prefer that as long as the film isn’t a bait and switch, and this isn’t the case here. It’s very much what is advertised. But it wouldn’t be a Christopher Nolan film without a few twists.

So watching the film we discover that the reason the earth is becoming inhabitable is there is a blight destroying all the crops, similar to the potato famine that actually happened in Ireland. Except the blight is causing the earth to terraform and the atmosphere is changing. Which will eventually leave the people of earth to starve and suffocate to death.

Schools have decided that they need to line most children up to become farmers because they need food. They don’t need engineers or astronauts or machines.. to me this all came off a bit ridiculous. If you have a problem, you put your scientist on it to try and fix it. Or well that’s my personal feelings.

It’s clear Christopher Nolan is poking fun at how NASA has had it’s funding pulled. NASA in the film has gone under ground and has public funding again. But it’s because they’ve become the last resort to save humanity. If this isn’t the case then it’s a well timed coincidence. So about an hour into the film, we finally get launched into space as a last ditch effort to try and save mankind. Insert lots of 2001 A Space Odyssey jokes here… no seriously.. Christopher Nolan loaded the film with nods to it. It’s like he knew the two films would be compared.

So now that we are in space, headed towards a black hole and new galaxy.. the film finally feels like it gets moving. Realistically if I tell you anything else about the plot, it would probably ruin it for you. So I’m going to stop myself there and talk about what I liked and what I didn’t like.

It’s shot beautifully and looks amazing. Nolan paid attention to mob of people that was angry when Dark Knight Rises would snap between 2 different aspect ratios. It looks like much of the film was also shot mostly practical. There were plenty of special effects, but as far as sets go. It looks like they were on a farm and a space ship set, etc., etc. and that is something I really appreciate. Not only because it just looks better, it helps the actors give believable performances.

Matthew McConaughey gives another wonderful performance as Cooper, proving why he’s one of Hollywood’s hottest leading men. He’s our hero and that’s how we like him, even if his character is regretting his decision to go on the mission at times.  Also giving a fantastic performance is the incredibly skilled Jessica Chastain. It seems so effortless for her and she’s just so captivating. I can see why Nolan used her so much in the film, even if her part could have been trimmed about 20 minutes and still had the same effect on the plot.

The always captivating Jessica Chastain stars in Interstellar.

Then there’s Anne Hathaway, who I go back and forth on. I like her in some films and I hate her in others. I found her performance good, but at times it fell a little flat. I didn’t find myself loving her in the role, but I didn’t hate her role either.

The more I think about the film. The more I appreciate it, even now after seeing it days ago. But that doesn’t make it perfect. Christopher Nolan still has those sound mixing issues he’s seemed to have on previous films he’s directed. Often times music is so loud you can’t hear what the quiet Michael Caine is trying to say to Jessica Chastain, or what the astronauts are trying to say to each other over the loud rumble of the space ship.

Clearly the film is too long. It’s an incredibly interesting plot at times, but editing seems to be something Nolan needs to learn how to actually do. Tightening up and not worrying so much about trying to attach the audience to Coopers family would have helped. Sure, I want to feel attachment to the characters on the screen, I want to be sad if something catastrophic happens, I want to feel joy when they are triumphant. But there’s a fine line between necessary and excessive and boring. I’d like to ask Nolan if he’s trying to make a boring film that puts folks to sleep or an exciting dramatic sci fi film.

One thing I really loved and felt there wasn’t enough of were these Ken Burns documentary style interviews just kind of tossed into the film. They had me tilting my head going, well this is different from what everyone else is doing and it kind of works. By the end of the film they all make sense and it’s great. But by the middle of the film it’s like Nolan has forgotten about them and sticks one awkwardly in there as if to go “Whoops I forget about these, better put one here.” I would have loved to have seen a few more of them here and there.

Now the big twist.. The super big twist in the last 30 minutes or so of the film is so freaking fantastic. It’s almost worth sitting through the film for. It wouldn’t be a Chris Nolan film without a twist right? Everything comes together and makes sense at that point.

Now for the really really big buzz kill. There are so many unforgivable scientific inaccuracies it would drive even the semi educated person crazy. The worst inaccuracy being about Relativity. Relativity doesn’t work the way it does in the film. It’s dictated by gravity yes. But the science is super sloppy in the film. I’m just going to look the other way on this, call it science FICTION and give it a pass. Granted I typically would hold Mr. Nolan to a much higher standard than that.

It’s really up to you to decide if it’s worth seeing in the theater. Sometimes I think I’d like to watch it again, but I’ll probably wait until it comes out on Bluray. I don’t know that I would want to sit in the theater for another long 3 hours. The real deciding factor should be that if under editing and inaccurate science aren’t deal breakers, then yes you should see it on the big screen and experience it in an immersive way.

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