Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine and Jessica Chastain
Director: Christopher Nolan
Running time: 169 mins
Rating: M (offensive language)
Verdict: Big, bold, and breathtaking
British director Christopher Nolan has never been afraid of complex narratives or a vision for how to bring them to life on the big screen. From his mind-bending breakthrough Memento, to his successful re-boot of the Batman series and stunning sci-fi drama Inception, Nolan's work has always been original and ambitious. Interstellar, is possibly his most audacious film yet.
An epic sci-fi filled with magnificent visuals and a thought-provoking, century-spanning story, Interstellar is an awe-inspiring spectacle. Nolan and his screenwriting partner and brother Jonathan have created a thrilling fantasy adventure that's intelligent, moving and moral; clearly inspired by Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. It's one of Nolan's longest films, but also one of his most heartfelt, even bordering on sentimental at times.
Set in a recognisable future, Earth has suffered a cataclysmic ecological event and humans are facing extinction via starvation. Only corn and okra will still grow, but there's only one more crop of viable okra left in the dust bowls of America. History has been re-written (at school, kids learn the Apollo space missions were a hoax to bankrupt the Russians), there is no military and little technology.
Instead, the focus is on farming and growing crops to sustain life. This will soon become futile, as Nasa, an organisation driven out of the public eye, has discovered Earth's atmosphere will only be suitable for one more generation. Led by Professor Brand (Michael Caine), Nasa's view is that people are meant to leave Earth, and the discovery of a wormhole leading to another galaxy with potential new planets to inhabit is the answer.
The Nolan brothers tell their story through a family led by ex-Nasa pilot turned farmer and widower, Cooper (McConaughey). Cooper, his 10-year-old daughter Murph (played by Mackenzie Foy and Jessica Chastain as an adult), 15-year-old son Tom (Timothee Chalamet, and later Casey Affleck) and father-in-law Donald (John Lithgow) are very tight-knit.
They're pulled apart when Cooper is surprisingly recruited back into Nasa to fly the space ship Endeavor through this black hole in search of a crew that has already left and hopefully found an inhabitable planet. Joined by a small crew including Brand's daughter Amelia (Hathaway) and a robot called TARS (voiced by Bill Irwin), Cooper leaves his kids behind to save mankind. It's Cooper's longing to be reunited with his family and the struggle they have dealing with his absence - in particular Murph's anger at being abandoned - that's the emotional core of this story.
Almost the first third of this film is set on Earth, with loaded dialogue explaining the physical, emotional and psychological effects of living on a planet on borrowed time. It sets the scene nicely, but it's when Endeavor takes off that this film really soars. With crisp, expansive cinematography from Hoyte Van Hoytema (Her) and soaring music from Hans Zimmer, what follows is an intense rollercoaster ride filled with breathtaking action scenes through time and space.
The physics are presented in a clear manner, for those of us a little rusty on the laws of gravity and relativity, but really we're in Nolan's hands when it comes to making us believe.
It's a testament to McConaughey, who continues his impressive comeback run, and Nolan's big, brave vision that you find yourself invested and prepared to take that leap of faith.
Interstellar isn't perfect; there are ponderous moments, moments of implausibility and the ending lingers in a bid to wrap up all the pieces. But these niggles don't take away from what Nolan has achieved - a blockbuster that's profound, poignant and exhilarating.
Much like last year's Gravity, Interstellar is a film that should be seen on the big screen. Nolan shot on 70mm film for the Imax screen, and watching it in this cinema is an intense experience, but if you'd can't get to an Imax just make sure the screen is as big as possible.