Film Review: Interstellar

Interstellar Review

By James Sharp

Rating 4/5 Stars

Interstellar is the latest blockbuster from the immensely successful Christopher Nolan. The film opens on Earth in the near future where our delicate eco system has been knocked off balance. Crops are failing and society, in America at least, appears to have turned to farming in an effort to grow enough to survive. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is tasked with leaving his family behind to scout out a new planet for the human race to call home. The subsequent exploration is what fills the bulk of the film’s hefty 169 minute run time.

At points Interstellar tells two stories, both the high concept science fiction epic of the space exploration sequences and the human drama of life back on Earth. This serves to present the audience with relatable characters to balance some of the more complex scientific theories. If at any time the viewer is lost by the way Cooper and his compatriots are going to get to the next planet they can still understand why they have to get there by showing the worsening situation of those left on Earth. The dialogue is at times clunky and overly expositional which can harm the flow of some scenes with one discussion of how a wormhole works standing out. Obviously it was decided that to try and sell this film to a large audience without removing the more ambitious ideas the story had to be explained. It can be jarring but it doesn’t hamper enjoyment of the film too much.

Christopher Nolan’s previous directorial outings have been praised for their realism. In dealing with the seemingly unreal vastness of space Nolan has used practical effects as much as possible to lend a tangible nature to the onscreen action. Models were used for the spacecraft, large puppets were created for the excellently designed robots and CGI was used only sparingly. This attention to detail has led to one very attractive film. Scenes of the ship drifting through space give a better feeling of the lonely, empty void than any film I’ve seen. The shots are so beautiful that they could have lingered on them just a little longer but the pace of the film is somewhat rapid despite the long runtime. Over one hour of footage was shot on 70mm iMax film stock and I would recommend viewing the film at an iMax cinema. The bigger screen size, better quality audio and higher resolution added by this projection format is worth the extra ticket price for this film.

The music in the film is worth mentioning for the atmosphere it adds. Hans Zimmer has worked with Christopher Nolan on his four previous films and was challenged to ignore trends when creating this score. The film is dominated by huge, powerful pieces which utilise a church organ lending a gothic feel to the film. This is juxtaposed with some wholly silent scenes of the spacecraft in the noiseless void of space. The score adds to the massive scale of the film and deserves praise for avoiding the stereotype of brass heavy space soundtracks popularized by Star Trek and Star Wars.

I would recommend that anyone with enough interest in Interstellar to read this review should go and see it. It is not a perfect film and suffers from some problems of characterization and scripting but no film in the past year has left me with such wonder and awe. Most three hour films overstay their welcome but this held the attention until the end. It might just help you to fall in love with cinema again.