I’ve been looking forward to seeing Interstellar since it was first mooted as Steven Spielberg film back in 2005. Disappointed as I was when he dropped out of the project, I was pacified greatly by the news that Christopher Nolan was to take up the reigns. After all this was the man who by giving us the Dark Knight trilogy and Inception taught us that tent-pole blockbuster movies don’t have to ignore depth and characterisation, and can challenge the mind as well as the eyes.
Mr Belt couldn’t join me on this occasion, as he is heavily embroiled in the creation of the next major global brand at Carlton’s number one eating establishment the Chattel House.
So anyway I went with my good friend Mr Lionel Flatbread instead, who often joins me on jaunts to see films of a Sci-Fi orientation.
So to the film, Interstellar is an epic adventure in both cinematic scope, thunderous score and mind-bending ambition. At close to 3 hours long, it is not a film that will wash over you or even relax you. This is a challenge from the outset, a film that requires attention, and will be unforgiving to anyone watching who has the desire to drift off into a daydream for more than a minute. I will attempt to not give away too many spoilers but a brief outline of the plot is thus, set in the near future, Earth’s resources are seriously depleted and humankind is staring at an unlikely future. Matthew McConaughey plays Cooper an ex-space shuttle pilot, now farmer who lives with his son who will follow in dads footsteps as a farmer, and daughter murphy, who demonstrates uncanny ability to decipher scientific information, and his father in law (a comfortably, restrained John Lithgow) as they struggle from year to year of failed crop harvests and battle devastating dust storms.
After following some co-ordinates that Murphy believes have been sent from a ghostly presence they arrive at a secret NASA base where Cooper finds his old mentor Prof Brand (Nolan regular Michael Caine). There he manages to persuade Cooper to abandon his family and captain a crew of astronauts including Brand’s daughter (Anne Hathaway) to explore a recently discovered wormhole near Saturn that could lead to other planets that the human race could ultimately move to and begin again so to speak.
Now to go into much more detail would be to spoil the film for those with an interest in seeing it, so I’ll try to refrain.
So is it any good? Undoubtedly the answer to this is yes, it begs to be seen on the big screen and transports the audience into other worlds that can only really be reached through a cinema screen. Its an attack on the senses that you only truly get in the enclosed chasm of a large multiplex cinema. Visually it is Nolan at his best, large sweeping vistas of Cooper’s farm giving way to alien landscapes and spectacular visions of space reminiscent of Cameron and Kubrick at their best.
Regular Nolan collaborator Hans Zimmer bombards the auditory with an ever present score that some may find intrusive, not me bring it on I say, it all adds to atmosphere as you are transported on this journey of exploration.
Its not without its issues, at times the script, although never plumbing the depths of Armageddon say, does have its clunky moments, a middle section involving a cameo of an A-List Hollywood superstar disrupts the rhythm of the film and in truth is rather clichéd and unnecessary. Sci-Fi films from Alien to Event Horizon deal with rogue crew members and here it feels it is a subplot that is a distraction too far.
Nolan himself attempts to move away from his comfort zone. This is rather hit and miss. Themes of love are a welcome entry to Nolan but with Hathaway’s monologue about love transcending space and time it feels on occasions that he is not as comfortable with the personal as he is with the spectacular.
Yes there is a lot of scientific exposition but it never feels preachy or patronising. Go in with a clear head and you should be able to follow. The last half hour attempts to tie up all the loose ends and this is where Nolan turns up the visual bombardment to the maximum. Echoing 2001 and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, it is a science fiction fans dream, with diluted scenery giving way to warm other worldly colours.
This is the sort of film that will puzzle many and is certainly not a straightforward evening, but as with many Sci-Fi films that are often ridiculed on release, there is the strong possibility that this film will be regarded as classic piece of cinema in twenty years time. Interstellar provides all the answers – you just might not understand the questions.