BLU-RAY REVIEW: INTERSTELLAR / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: CHRISTOPHER NOLAN / SCREENPLAY: JONATHAN NOLAN, CHRISTOPHER NOLAN / STARRING: MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY, MICHAEL CAINE, ANNE HATHAWAY, JESSICA CHASTAIN / RELEASE DATE: MARCH 30TH
Every now and again, we have filmmakers pushing the boundaries of what cinema has to offer to its very peak, and that is certainly true of the sci-fi behemoth that is Interstellar, the latest epic from visionary director Christopher Nolan. As summed up in the title, the film is one enormous display of size, scale, scope and spectacle, being enthralling, amazing and having the power to leave you aghast.
Set in a near dystopian future, a second Dust Bowl catastrophe is causing blight upon the world’s crop supply, causing the Earth to slowly die and rendering it uninhabitable. This causes a NASA team, led by Professor Brand (Caine), to build ‘the Endurance’, a gigantic “space ark” that will hopefully take the last vestiges of humanity to a new home across the stars, providing if the “problem of gravity” can be solved. Meanwhile, being prompted by ghostly forces, pilot-turned-farmer Cooper (McConaughey) leads the exploratory mission, including Brand’s daughter Amelia (Hathaway), through a wormhole originating beyond the rings of Saturn, abandoning both his family and his home life in search of a future for all humanity.
Nolan cites this as his most personal project, trying to recapture the spirit he had when watching Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey as a young child. Yet while it’s definitely easy to cite 2001, the key film that really hangs over the spectre of Interstellar is Robert Zemeckis’ Contact, which shares more than just leading man McConaughey and theoretical physicist Kip Thorne (who also offered signature input on Interstellar). Both films deal with a central cinematic theme of a daughter crying to her long lost father across the vast reaches of the universe, and it’s also these daughters that decipher the first enigmatic signs of a suggested “alien” intelligence.
That core theme is right at the heart of Interstellar, and Nolan stated that emotional truth was what the story was centrally about, and that is what the film’s really about: a father and daughter relationship. Even though there’s hard scientific exposition being spouted out about relativity and wormholes, it’s ultimately love that prevails over science. That beating emotional heart is embodied in the character of Murph, and the exceptionally talented Mackenzie Foy (as the younger Murph) gives a performance that is both beautifully and emotionally raw. Jessica Chastain is equally affecting and raw, playing the older Murph as someone trying to put on a confidant façade to hide her emotions, yet we can sense and feel the excruciating emotional pain she’s been carrying with her.
All the science of Interstellar with space travel, bifurcated timescales and planet exploration is really built around that core father-daughter relationship, and sometimes both the sentimentality and the science mesh together perfectly, yet occasionally the silliness triumphs over and that can be problematic for some. The film’s last fifteen minutes are absolutely ridiculous and will certainly divide opinion, but these are minor teething problems amidst an ocean of excitement and surprise.
In the end, Interstellar is an extraordinarily remarkable feat in the history of cinema, making for a truly unforgettable experience that will stay with audiences both young and old. Christopher Nolan is a true bona-fide filmmaker that completely understands the true raw power of cinema and what it can offer and deliver, making this something truly special entirely. It may not be perfect, but it’s both bold and ambitious, and that is something to admire.
Special Features: Fifteen featurettes / Theatrical trailers
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