Latest Nolan film reaches for the cosmos

Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Interstellar, the latest film from Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight), may not be the director’s most complete film, but the sheer scale and visual aspects of the film make it more than worth the time. The film clocks in at a huge 169 minutes, yet the pace is kept up beautifully throughout.

The film begins with Cooper, a former pilot (Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club), in a world that can barely sustain the human population. When he stumbles across the remains of NASA, he is sent on a mission spanning decades to find a new home for humanity.

Not much more can be said about the plot without giving anything away. The story is a thrill ride, filled with actual scientific theory, but never lacking in the human aspect that can be so easily lost with a film of such an epic scale.

On its surface, this seems like a film about space and humanity’s fascination with it. In reality, it is much more on a much smaller level. It is a film about human desire to survive against all odds and the decision of whether to place one’s own survival over the survival of the species.

Nolan is not a director known for making his films pack an emotional punch, yet with this, he has broken that mold in a huge way. The relationship between Cooper and his daughter is the real backbone of the story, instead of the awe-inspiring journey that takes up the majority of screen time. Cooper’s daughter, Murph, is played incredibly by child actor, Mackenzie Foy.

The relationship between Cooper and his son (Timothee Chalamet) leaves a bit to be desired, though. However, playing Cooper’s crewmate on the voyage is the nearly always reliable Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables). Her portrayal of a scientist in the shadow of her father (Michael Caine, The Dark Knight) is fantastic. She effortlessly switches from the cocky, more experienced scientist to a vulnerable human being that is in over her head, like the rest of the crew.  The performance of the entire cast really furthers the human decisions and ethical dilemmas that drives the plot of the film.

While the character aspect of Interstellar is nice to have, it is not why this film will almost certainly become one of the most popular of the year and possibly the decade.

The visuals portraying space travel certainly do not disappoint. The scenes in the early space travelling portion of the film include some of the greatest images ever put on a movie screen. In addition to the magnitude of the visuals, they are complemented extremely well by a mix of total silence and a jaw dropping score by Hans Zimmer, who has become the go-to composer for Nolan in his recent films.

With such a long film, the question of whether the pacing keeps up is a reasonable one. In the hands of another director, the film could have easily descended from epic in scale, feeling and length to something the audience feels like they have to sit through. Throughout the entire run time, the film maintains a sense of purpose and at times, unbearable suspense.

The problem with many sci-fi films is that they forget the human aspect of storytelling. While the characters are not perfect, this film employs more than enough character development to force the audience to sympathize with the characters. The film also does an outstanding job of making the seemingly non relatable problems the characters face into smaller scale issues like familial relations and self-preservation that anyone can understand. The story inspires multiple tear-inducing scenes in addition to awe inspiring cinematography.

A director like Nolan is fascinated by the history of film and also its bright future. He shows his respect for the art of film making by allowing theaters who still own non digital film projectors to screen his film two days early.

The contrast of a futuristic film with the whir of an old fashioned projector in the background is one that cannot be felt in any other recently released, big-name  film.

The idea of showing the movie on film pays homage to the human spirit of innovation that is present in the film as well as society today. Interstellar takes place in a world where humanity has lost its desire to innovate and as a result, faces its ultimate demise by the planet that has supported it.

It is evident that Christopher Nolan tried to capture the essence of human innovation in the film. The success of this aesthetic choice is yet to be seen, but this film has the rare power to inspire a new generation of innovators and explorers for the ultimate growth of society.

This film is by no means perfect, but that is not what makes it so special. Make sure to see this film as it is sure to become an instant sci-fi classic. In twenty years people will be bragging about how they were able to see Interstellar in theaters.

Our Take: 4/5