Oh my god, Interstellar is finally here and it is quite a sight to behold. Interstellar is directed by Christopher Nolan, so we all know what that means, and it follows the story of Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a former pilot who, when the world was beginning to come to and end and the food almost running out, moved to working as a farmer, alongside most of the Earth's population. He lives on this farm with his daughter, Murph (Mackenzie Foy) and son, Tom (Timothée Chalet), but he's soon forced to leave behind his family and voyage up into space in the hopes of exploring three potentially habitable planets that can be accessed via a wormhole.
In the days leading up to this film, I tried my best to lower my expectations. I've found that with recent films such as Gone Girl, where my expectations were exponentially high when going in, I've always come out slightly disappointed. Like practically every other human being living on this planet, I was looking forward to Interstellar, despite not being a Nolan fanboy. Sure, the trailers were amazing, but the critics said otherwise. There were no critics, or at least none that I'd read, that deemed this a perfect film. They all admitted its unfortunate flaws, some even deeming these flaws the reason the film sucks. I simply cannot understand this. Maybe it's because I deliberately lowered my expectations or maybe it's because this film is just a masterpiece of cinema, but I loved Interstellar and it's a film that you NEED to see, although I'm presuming you already had that planned for this weekend.
Interstellar is a complex voyage into space, and it's necessary viewing. While it's a science-fiction film on the surface, Interstellar has so much more to it than just the end of the world and the exploration of another galaxy. It's a film with depth, hidden meanings and relevant messages. The whole space plot-line is merely a backdrop to an incredible story of love, family and time. It's an extraordinary experience too, rarely failing to entertain and always pushing you to the edge of your seat.
It's long in length and epic in scale, but it's a journey that's well worth it. The film's runtime cuts in close to three hours, in fact it's only eleven minutes short, but it doesn't feel it. Sure, I could tell that it was a long viewing, but it never felt unnecessarily long or tedious to watch. There's always something going on and this something is always progressing the story forward, giving us more reasons to care about the characters.
The film dedicates a reasonable chunk of the first act to building up character. In fact, I would even push to say that the entire first act is dedicated to setting up these characters lives. We're given time to connect to Cooper and Murph, Christopher Nolan evidently taking his time in telling his story. He needs us to care about the characters, both on Earth and in space, and he does this to an extensive degree, spending just enough time for me to even shed a tear as Cooper's forced to drive away from Murph, knowing that there's a possibility he won't ever see her again.
This film really does hit on an emotional level. This departure scene may have gotten my eyes watering, but they were bursting when it comes to a specific scene later on in the film. Just before we hit the half way point of our voyage, we're given a scene that's way too emotional for its own good, but at the same time it's absolutely perfect. I haven't cried harder in a single scene from any 2014 release, and you should've seen me during The Fault in Our Stars. Not only was I in tears, but my entire audience was too. I'm not kidding when I say this either, literally everyone in my cinema (a crowded cinema at that) were sniffling away at this particular scene, some minutes after it ended, myself included.
The film's first two acts follow reason, logic and scientific facts, whereas the third doesn't do any of this. The screenplay for this film has been in the works for many many years now, allowing screenwriters Jonathan and Christopher Nolan to study hard about the subject matter of the film. They clearly know their stuff and while they struggle to convey years of research into a three hour film, they can use enough. There's cold hard facts to be found in Interstellar, yet these facts disintegrate when the third act kicks in. All logic is ignored and it just makes absolutely no sense. I didn't exactly dislike where they went, but it required me to suspend my disbelief big time.
This finale tries hard to be ambiguous, yet it can't reason why it is. It leaves everything open for interpretation, hence my use of ambiguous, but there's nothing there to really interpret. It's the Nolans just making the rules up and expecting us to think about their fictitious logic. It took me a while to process it, but I've come to the conclusion that that's just not possible. There's no explanation of what happens in the final few scenes, yet the film thinks that it gave enough information for us to work it out ourselves.
Of course, comparisons to 2001: A Space Odyssey are inevitable. After all, most people, especially 2001 fans, were hoping for this to be the next 2001. So, is it? To put it simply, no it is not. While it's obviously an inspiration for the film, Interstellar is an inferior movie. The two are both complex and thought provoking space epics with endings that just blew my mind, but Interstellar will never be able to hold its ground when put up against what I consider to be the most essential viewing in history.
And finally, the actual space sequences themselves are visually stunning. While last year's Gravity captured the loneliness of space and the dangers that come with it, Interstellar captures its beauty. As Cooper and his team of astronauts explore space and alter with time, the audience just stare in awe as we're treated to a variety of shots captured beautifully by a person that isn't Wally Pfister. Yeah I reckon, WHAT?!?!
To sum up, Interstellar may not be the next 2001: A Space Odyssey, but it clearly tries to be. It's a complex and epic film about love, family and time that uses space as a mere backdrop to this story. It's exciting, visually amazing and full of heart. Plus it has one of the most emotional scenes of 2014.
4 1/2 Stars