Christopher Nolan’s space epic behemoth is pretty ambitious and flawed, but proves itself as the most enthralling and captivating film of the year. It still gave me goosebumps even as I exited the cinema, befuddled. In true Nolan fashion, the movie leaves you with more questions than answers. While the film’s massive appeal is to Nolan’s biggest fans, especially to his classic works like Memento, The Prestige, The Dark Knight, Inception, Batman Begins, this holiday blockbuster will undoubtedly rake in more audiences if only for its eloquent sci-fi roots and rich narrative.
Interstellar takes place in a dystopian future where Earth’s crops are dying, the last remaining wheat is corn, and countries are plagued with dust-bowl like occurrences called “the blight”. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), an engineer and a NASA-qualified pilot, struggles to be a farmer while taking care of his young children, Tom and Murph. After some “anomalies” in his daughter’s room, they discover a secret facility where NASA is building a “space ark” in a mission to leave Earth and set up camp in another world. Through God, the Creator, a Higher Being (take your pick), a wormhole has appeared near Saturn and given glimpses of promising galaxies, after which 3 NASA expeditions had been sent a decade earlier. Now, Cooper, Dr. Brand (Anne Hathaway), and a few other NASA specialists will retrace the steps of the 3 missions to confirm which world they can safely move into and start the human race anew, right after old Dr. Brand (Michael Caine) solves the “gravitational problem”.
See how ambitious each thread of the plot is? And that’s not even including the quantum mechanics, singularity and relativity theories, the “love” complexity, and the wormhole.
There’s no denying Interstellar is targeted for the geeks, people who can keep up with relativity and physics theories without losing track of intercutting twists and turns in the plot. But even then, Nolan’s magnum opus can’t help but be a high-brow cerebral amalgamation of textbook science cleverly inserted into the script. The Nolan brothers are obviously self-serious literalists fond of exposition, and for that they appear un-emotive, which is not the case at all.
The dialogue may be clunky at times, but there’s no denying that Interstellar is the brainchild of someone with a hubristic imagination, someone who openly trusts in the overwhelming power of the picture and expects his audience to be as awestruck as he is with scientific theories.
While Gravity did a good job portraying a lost astronaut just beyond the borders of our atmosphere, Interstellar showed the astonishingly horrific power of empty space, with just the hollow of infinity and the distant twinkle of galaxies in the background. I was on the edge of my seat and clicking my teeth as Endurance got closer to the spherical wormhole. That thing was a beauty and I was completely immersed in that world.
But whether this ocular feast counters the gaping loopholes of the plot or not remains arguable. Some may be disturbed by the non-answers, while some admire the confidence of the director to leave a few “mysteries” for the audience to ponder on. As always, Hans Zimmer is a genius in cooking up a superbly eerie score that goes from silent foreboding to shrieking pianos. I hear people have been complaining about the muddled dialogue drowned out by the score, but for me it added to the overall immersion in the movie.
What’s great about Nolan is that he always leaves us wondering. We wondered how Robert Angier could continue “cloning” himself without knowing if he’d end up in the aquarium or as the “original”. We wondered about Dom’s top continuing to spin and would that mean he was still in the dream. And now we’re wondering how Gargantua could hold the 5th dimension and let Cooper communicate with his former self, to effectively save the world, and spit him back to our solar system? Only Nolan can target the geeks and say, “Hey, here’s something you guys can debate over endlessly for the next couple of months.” If Nolan can read this, all I can say is your movies are phenomenal and omg hi i love your work so much this is embarrassing please don’t hate me. 😀
So what’s the verdict?
Christopher Nolan has once again succeeded in giving audiences a mind-numbing exposition with his space epic filled with time-dilating adventures, wormhole expeditions, death by mile-high tidal waves, and singularity and relativity theories that would, at the hands of other directors, completely be lost in the plot. But like the genius that Nolan is, his Interstellar doesn’t disappoint and can instead be easily placed beside his obra maestras like Memento, The Prestige, and The Dark Knight.
I recommend the more-expensive IMAX ticket. 😀