Director Christopher Nolan has made a career out of masterfully tinkering with logic, and it is evident in his films. From the moment audiences were introduced to his seminal classic Memento to the recently concluded Dark Knight trilogy, Nolan continues to astound with every movie he has done. Unfortunately, his work hasn’t been without criticism; for every logical or political statement made, there is a critic that claims a lack of emotion in his work. However, with the release of his 9th film as director, Nolan returns to form with a film that is ripe with both emotion and optimism for the human race.
Christopher Nolan’s latest opus, Interstellar, begins in America’s heartland, or at least that’s what it appears to be. Set in something akin to an apocalyptic future, the film presents the audience with Cooper, an engineer who cares deeply for his family. With the world ravaged with blight, and corn slowly being the only available food supply for people, humanity is in need of a solution. While Cooper laments over this, his daughter, Murphy, and her story are introduced. It’s established early on that while Cooper doesn’t agree with everything Murphy believes in, the two share a bond that is deeply felt, one that is rooted in a love for science.
Love is a major theme that is heavily discussed and explored in Interstellar. Like the prevalence of quantum physics and science, the “element” of love is eerily and beautifully presented in the film. During the film’s first act, it is evident that the driving force for Cooper is his love for family, particularly Murphy. This is tested when Murphy’s observations lead them to a facility run by Professor Brand, where the duo is introduced to a bevy of astronauts planning an expedition to explore the galaxy for new, habitable planets. Professor Brand explains to Cooper the advantages and repercussions of the expedition, and though he agrees to join, it comes with a consequence that reverberates throughout the rest of the film.
One of the strengths of Interstellar is the near-impeccable casting that propels the film into an ensemble piece. Anchored by emotional performances by Anne Hathaway and Matthew McConaughey on a level like never before, the human emotion is dealt with throughout the film. Hathaway is graceful, but the emotions are felt and shown. McConaughey, on the other hand, delivers possibly one of his best performances yet. While the duo is supported by a great supporting cast of both humans and robots, it is the dynamic of the two stars that helps make the film more resonant and relatable as a whole.
As the film progresses into a complex but engaging yarn of story, the rest of the ensemble pull off the feat of standing out in a positively crowded cast. Jessica Chastain, in particular, steals the show when her character is unveiled. The amount of personality Chastain showcases in the small amount of time given is staggering, and her performance is easily on par with Hathaway’s and McConaughey’s. Meanwhile, the youngest of the cast, Mackenzie Foy, keeps up by delivering a performance that is both dramatic and subdued during the right moments.
Slowly unveiling the complex yarn, Nolan lays down the science of it all as audiences are kept at the edge of their seats. It only helps that the visual effects is one of the most laudable aspects of the film. Nolan attests to never using green screen when he works and it’s evident with how realistic and believable the set and production design is. Meanwhile, the visual effects are nothing short of breathtaking.
With a chain of events that lead to a thriller-like pace, the astronauts are then confronted with the daunting force of both the unknown and of man himself, a surprisingly great balance of storytelling. Coupled with tense events happening on the dust-ravaged Earth, it’s really a race against time to go against the odds and see if the human spirit can triumph in the face of adversity. As a space thriller, it exceeds expectations with every conflict presented.
The mesh of scientific theories like relativity and singularity helps propel and advance the story. Although the dialogue and screenplay conduct a lesson on the science behind the movie, the emotions felt by the characters tend to overpower the logic. Although this can be seen as a weakness of the film, the plot turns it into a strength by emphasizing the unique human experience of Interstellar, the wonder and awe stimulated by the film’s gaping visuals and heated pacing.
Backed by the soaring score of Hans Zimmer, Nolan’s regular collaborator, Interstellar succeeds in entertaining while exercising the logic and brainpower of the average moviegoer. It successfully translates into screen the complete human experience – the hunger to look for something other than what’s here or what’s out there. As a whole, it is Nolan showing that a movie can be both logical and awe-inspiring, two things the human body can experience and feel.
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