Okay, Christopher Nolan is back in my good graces. I’ve been seeing the trailer for Interstellar seemingly all year, and started to get worried that it might be overpromising a good time. Turns out I was worrying in vain, as this movie rocks its socks off. This is the science fiction/space exploration/save the world/time travel action/adventure everyone has been waiting for. Nolan delivers big time with this one.
Even though I’ve been a big fan since Memento, I was seriously ready to cast Nolan into the Closet of Hacks after the deep disappointment of that logical mess of a movie, The Dark Knight Whatever.
First the trailer (and believe me, this trailer barely scratches the surface of what the film actually shows) and then my 5 incredible things after the jump:
1) One absolutely killer story. Basically, hero dad goes off to save the world, knowing full well that he may never see his beloved children again. The end. Well, not quite… and that’s the delicious part of Interstellar. Nolan and his brother and longtime writing partner Jonathan Nolan create a very rich scenario in which our hero is given no choice but to step up and risk everything. And then they throw every possible twist and turn in to pretty much guarantee that he fails. Excellent writing; they will probably see more than one award nomination for this screenplay. And for a movie so packed with action and emotion, it has quite a bit of humor as well.
2) Gorgeous production values. This film deserves to be seen in IMAX. Truly, this is the only format that can movingly depict the spectacle of mile-high waves, frozen alien planet vistas and the vastness of outer space. The term “mindblowing” has been overused, but it is really appropriate in this case. Interstellar presents utterly fantastic visuals.
3) Believable time travel. As I mentioned in 5 things I found extremely enjoyable about Edge of Tomorrow, time travel movies get me going. Now, Interstellar isn’t technically a time travel movie, it’s an intergallactic travel movie that does a pretty decent job of staying true to real-life physics. So relatively theory and all that comes into play, and next thing you know, an hour on one wet planet takes 7 years on another. Handled by a hack, this could have gotten very tedious, but Nolan (mostly) avoids the pitfalls of extended exposition by going for the heart. The sequence where the characters catch up on their video email after an extended period in space is one for the ages.
4) Nature: the most dangerous foe of all. Seems like there are two types of outerspace disaster movies: those where the main dangers are aliens, and the ones where surviving the elements is the main challenge. Interstellar firmly fits with the latter, which adds to it’s believability.
5) The return of Christopher Nolan. Nolan gets back to his time-shifty ways with Interstellar. Memento, The Prestige and even Inception played around with the possibilities of time and space, but in ways that had a basis in reality (okay, Inception was pretty speculative). But the really cool things about those movies, and something that Interstellar shares, is that they are educational. I left Interstallar feeling like I actually added something to my (limited) knowledge of relativity. Perhaps I’m fooling myself, but I am ready to give credit to Nolan (and his brother) for that feeling. Nolan even pulls a page out of M. Night Shyamalan’s playbook with a late reveal that comes out of nowhere to really shake things up.
So, my faith in Christopher Nolan thus restored, my vote for him as a true Visionary is safe, and this great director remains in the Visionary or Hack Hall of Visionaries. What do you think?
P.S. I must add that all of the actors in this movie turn in great performances, particularly Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and MacKenzie Foy, who plays the 10 year old daughter McConaughey’s character leaves behind. Go see this film and drink in the wonder of it all.
Here are a few Amazon Instant Video links to other great Christopher Nolan titles (okay, so The Dark Knight Rises wasn’t so great, but I’m gonna include it here anyway):