Movie Review: Interstellar

From the great mind behind some of my favorite films, like Inception and The Dark Knight, comes Christopher Nolan's next big leap towards becoming a even more legendary director. Moving away from Batman and dream-chasing, Nolan brings us what every summer season craves: A mind-bending science-fiction flick. With films like Oblivion and Gravity tackling the subject last year, this year, Interstellar definitely takes the top seat as the sci-fi blockbuster of the year. With Nolan's signature mind-bending twists and turns, his brother's great storytelling, and composer Hans Zimmer's unimaginable sounds, Interstellar is a thrill-ride worth taking, and a journey you won't soon forget.

Within a desolate future, one without alien or robot invasions this time, we find a grounded tale of a father's love and struggle for his family. This father, Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), struggles with the fact that all his life consists of is farming, rather than being a NASA pilot like he once was. This overwhelming conflict, as well as the conflict of his childrens' unknown futures, is heightened soon after, as it begins to become apparent that life of Earth will soon be uninhabitable, due to lack of natural resources and increasing dust storms. With his family: father-in-law (John Lithgow), son, and daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy), Cooper questions if there is more out there, beyond the stars, where humankind could survive again. This question is quickly answered, when Cooper discovers that NASA has secretly been conducting space voyages underground, with the aid of Professor Brand (Michael Caine). Enlisted to travel into a wormhole in order to find a new home for mankind, Cooper must leave his family behind, and face his greatest challenge yet. Entering the wormhole, Cooper quickly realizes that all is not what it appears to be, and that leaving his life on Earth behind might have been the worst decision he could have ever made. With a plethora of shocking twists, along with the discovery of a new mysterious planet, the story sours with great passion from there, flying past the boundaries of reality and breaking through to a dangerous yet exciting finale.  

"Mankind was born on Earth. It was never meant to die here." For as long as there has been life on our planet, we have battled for survival. From the earliest times of war and chaos to today's own injustices, humankind has faced the ultimate challenge of surviving our greatest feats. With Interstellar, Christopher Nolan shows us the world as it may become very soon, with limited resources and even more limited options for survival. As this "future" of Earth that Nolan has imagined pits its inhabitants against the horrors of scarcity and pollution, they begin to realize that the one thing they've forgotten and put aside is the one and only thing that can truly save them. Bringing up elements of the forgotten space program of NASA, as well as topics of pollution and natural resources, Interstellar tackles something rarely done justice in science-fiction films today: The reality that our world will not last forever, and that, in order to get to the future, we must recollect the past, no matter what may occur in the end. 

With as massive and influential a basis as that, a film like Interstellar was sure to amaze its audiences. With complex themes of family and science woven together into a great visual tale, once again the sci-fi genre has succeeded in leaving me surprised. Also, with Chris Nolan at its helm, I knew this film was going to be more than just a simple space flick. With great past successes, from Memento to Inception, Nolan has become one of the best directors in the business of selling great stories with unforgettable visual effects. This time, diving into the world of science fiction, Nolan excels once more in bringing powerful yet grounded characters into a world of visual spectacles. On the topic of sci-fi, most of the recent films in the genre have been more or less...lackluster. From Tom Cruise's many adventures in Oblivion and Edge of Tomorrow to the chilling Snowpiercer, among others, the science fiction genre has been overly entertaining, but overall lacking in the thrilling excitement that Interstellar evoked. Like last year's Gravity, one of the best science fiction films of the year, Interstellar brought amazing visuals to the screen, unlike anything I've ever seen. However, what made this film much greater than Gravity, was its powerful attention to the detail of its small cast of characters. As I'll state later on in more depth, Nolan has a knack for his fantastic character development, something that most sci-fi films lack these days. 

The cast of the film was unique, but overall spot-on. With growing actor Matthew McConaughey leading a cast of small-time actors from Jessica Chastain to Wes Bentley, Interstellar delivers rather "stellar" performances even in the most surprising places. To start off, the leading man McConaughey gives us another one of his best performances, acting as a conflicted father/pilot who makes some of the biggest decisions of his life, all while trying to save the world. Returning from low-key yet popular films like Mud and Dallas Buyer's Club (still one of my favorite McConaughey films), Matt has definitely become one of Hollywood's hugest growing stars, especially after his role in the mystery series True Detective. In this film, while he may not have the biggest character arc, McConaughey's acting is some of the best I've seen in his career. One of his best scenes, which shows him reacting to his children's messages while in space (no further spoilers), truly depicts how he can bring out almost any emotion for his character, and make it work phenomenally. With every tear-jerking or action-packed scene, McConaughey provokes the audience with a powerful and emotional performance worthy of award.

A number of other great performances come from the women of the film: Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, and even Mackenzie Foy. Beginning with Foy, she plays young Murph, 10-year old daughter of McConaughey's Cooper. Break-out star of Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Foy quickly defines herself as an intelligent theorist of her own caliber, as she ignites impressive bouts of emotion and cleverness into her role. Growing up after years on Earth, the character is then played by the beautiful Jessica Chastain, popular from the award-winning thriller Zero Dark Thirty. While she may not deliver her best performance, Chastain does offer an interesting look at the character as an adult, giving off similarities between Foy and Chastain, both story-wise and acting-wise. The last female of the crew, Anne Hathaway, delivers a cynical yet valiant role as Amelia Brand, daughter of Micheal Caine's Professor Brand. While Hathaway may not be my favorite actress, she does bring a decent amount of emotion into her role, her character proclaiming that love is all important to science. 

One other cast member who delivers a great performance is the legendary Micheal Caine. Always a crowd-pleaser for me, Caine always gives his best in his roles, bringing on his Cockney accent and tear-jerking emotions every time. This time around, it's not until the end of the film where Caine shows his greatest acting in the film. A pivotal scene for both Anne Hathaway's and Chastain's characters, Caine brings his A-game, just as he did for Alfred in the Dark Knight Trilogy.  

The visuals in the film were truly remarkable, equaling the likes of Gravity and 2001: A Space Odyssey in its vast realism and complexity. From custom-made shuttles to massive wormholes and planet surfaces, this film jumps the hurtle of astonishing its audience with ease, bringing eye-popping effects right to the viewers, exploding their minds with excitement and anticipation for what's coming next. From the moment the characters leave Earth to the gripping hours they spend facing a new planet of unknown reaches, the visual effects are truly amazing, bringing the daring excitement of space travel and planetary peril to our very eyes. One thing that stood out to me after seeing this film was the fact that most of the technology in the film was very realistic in nature, as well as the overall theme of the film. Depicting the depletion of our world by lack of natural resources, and the revival of the space programs in order to save our people seems like one of the most realistic and faithful science fiction themes I've ever seen. Even with walking robots and far-fetched space-time theories, this film takes a more grounded route for its sci-fi adventure, making it a lot more practical, and exciting, to see unfold on-screen. In the end, Interstellar has by far some of the greatest visual effects, as well as the most realistic subject matter for a science fiction film, that I've seen all year.

The score of the film was composed by Hans Zimmer...that's basically all I needed to hear to get me to see this film (other than the fact that it was a massive sci-fi powerhouse by the legendary Nolan). The dream team, as I call them now, of director Christopher Nolan and composer Hans Zimmer have been in the epic movie-making business ever since 2005, with Nolan's first dive into the Batman literature. With great films like The Dark Knight and Inception coming from the team, they're one of the most ambitious duos I've ever seen in movie-making (along with the Scorsese-DiCaprio team). As you guys know, my love for Hans Zimmer's music has always been great, ever since I heard his bellowing blares in Nolan's Inception. Since then, I discovered that Zimmer also did work on some of my favorite films, like Gladiator, The Lion King, and 12 Years A Slave. Forever one of my favorite composers, right up there with Star Wars' John Williams, Zimmer's music never ceases to amaze me, whether it be the loud blares of horns in Inception or the mellow drum rhythms in The Dark Knight. While I may not be the biggest music person, or at least music performer that is, I know that all great films need an even greater score in order to make it even more memorable to the audience...And that's exactly what Hans Zimmer does best.

Overall, Interstellar was another memorable sci-fi film to enjoy in theaters. Just as Gravity did last year, although Gravity somewhat lacking in characters and story, Interstellar returns to the space age, bringing an amazing story to life, through a plethora of fantastic visuals and award-worthy performances. Whether it be one of McConaughey's teary tragedies or one of the many phenomenal planet atmospheres, this film takes you by surprise and brings you into a mesmerizing world of emotions and spectacles, making it one of the best films by Nolan that I've seen. Full of immense ambition, powerful performances, and one great collection of hauntingly realistic themes, Interstellar blows the science fiction genre out of the park, with a grounded look at our society and how our eerie past defines our future.

I gave this film a 9 out of 10, because it again shows off Nolan's powerful ambitions, as well as delivering an immensely complex plot that thickens as you go further and further. Also, probably a classic Nolan move now, the film ends with both an epic yet confusing ending, which may end up being the film's only flaw. 


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