Interstellar – Movie Review

InterstellarInterstellar – PG-13
Release Date: Fri 07 Nov 2014

Interstellar is an ambitious science fiction adventure that explores several intriguing concepts. Even after nearly three hours I felt like I missed enough to bear a second viewing. For the most part, that’s my sense of wonder wanting to better understand what is going on. For a few sequences, though, the issue is more that the direction gets a little hard to understand. Two characters are engaged in a race that I don’t realize is happening until it is over. What’s wonderful is that the movie does not collapse under the weight of its ambition and proves to be entertaining throughout.

In many ways, the plot feels like Jonathan and Christopher Nolan wanted to set up a couple of really interesting thought experiments and build a narrative around them. For example, illustrating characters experiencing time in different ways comes back several times as the space explorers awaken years into the future. Their bodies seem to have aged only a few days while years have passed on earth. The initial mission is to try and find a habitable planet before Earth becomes uninhabitable. This is compounded by the fact that the exploration they need to make could take decades in earth time versus weeks to the explorers.

The performances are solid and there are a lot of familiar faces that pop up unexpectedly. Matthew McConaughey’s Cooper has the most screen time and he’s an affable, smart character. Cooper has to leave his daughter Murph behind, and her character becomes the focus of the Earthbound portion of the story. Murph is played by three actresses. Mackenzie Foy as young Murph is a standout performance and great casting as a younger version that is later picked up by Jessica Chastain and finally Ellen Burstyn. Anne Hathaway and many of the other characters shown in the trailers (Michael Caine, John Lithgow) and even more not shown are great in small roles that help flesh out the story.

There are so many things being balanced between relative time, the notion of man’s survival, whether nature can be evil and who the mysterious “they” are that seem to be guiding Cooper and Murph forward that it’s a wonder that it pays off as well as it does. I don’t put spoilers into the written reviews, but I can say there are some sad, bleak moments mixed with a bit of humor and a hopeful ending.

I recommend seeing it in IMAX if you are able. The effects and world design as well as the space travel sequences are breathtaking visuals. The soundtrack is passable but the movie actually felt more tense and engaging to me when they used silence. I would gladly watch it again, and look forward to the commentary tracks and featurettes on the home video release.

Aaron, Cal, Jeremiah and I saw it in the theater and had a discussion afterward in the car:

Interstellar

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