As the biggest Christopher Nolan fanboy, my expectations for his latest film were set incredibly high. And despite the odd problem here and there, I wasn’t disappointed. Interstellar was Nolan’s first venture into the sci-fi genre and starred many big name actors, including Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain and, because it’s a Nolan film, Michael Caine. In a world where food supplies are running out and the possibility of a real human extinction in just a generation, former pilot Cooper (McConaughey) is tasked on leading a team into a wormhole to find a new suitable home for mankind. But once through the wormhole, nothing is quite what it seems.
Now before I go any further, I must warn everyone that I’m about to go into SPOILER territory, so if you haven’t seen Interstellar yet, you have been warned.
Still here? Good, then let’s travel through the wormhole.
Due to the high level of talent involved in Interstellar putting in a great performance was vital for everyone. After turning his career around and winning an Oscar for Dallas Buyer’s Club, Matthew McConaughey was on a career high and starring as the lead in a Christopher Nolan was the next big step. It was crucial that McConaughey performed well in Interstellar, he had to prove that his Oscar win wasn’t a fluke and prove to studios that he was big name draw. Thankfully for Matthew, he puts in a great performance. I’ve never been a big McConaughey fan, in fact it wasn’t until a few years ago that I realised how Southern his accent really is. But after seeing him a few things now, I can see why everyone is falling over backwards for him including Nolan. Matthew is perfectly cast as Cooper, you understand his desire to go and help save the world, but understand his struggle to leave his family behind, especially Murphy. The scene where he leaves is so heartbreaking to watch and made me really feel for Cooper and Murphy, and this is coming from the emotionless robot that I am.
While Murphy is a great character, as stated, the character of Brand is not but Anne Hathaway can’t blame her performance on poor writing. I am a fan of Anne Hathaway and I know what a great actress she is, so I was surprised to see her do very little with this role. Where you feel everything for Murphy, you feel nothing for her character and part of that is because of her performance. Just small, little changes and we would have a much better character to relate to.
While Hathaway’s Brand is flawed from a writing standpoint, the other Brand in Interstellar is flawed in a different way. Michael Caine’s Dr. Brand is something different for the famed actor to work with. Where as lately, Caine has played the father figure role, in Interstellar Caine essentially plays the villain. When Dr. Brand reveals to Murphy that Plan A was a lie and that everyone on Earth was going to die, that’s a truly evil thing to do. He was evil; Michael Caine was evil in a Christopher Nolan film. That’s something new for Caine in a Nolan film, but he wasn’t over the top evil where he says ‘You’re all going to die’, big evil laugh and then drops dead. He was subtler and because of the soft nature of his character, his betrayal of humanity is more shocking.
But if we are talking evil we have to talk about Matt Damon. The reveal of Matt Damon playing Dr. Mann was suppose to be a surprise but it did get leaked that he was involved in the film. But I didn’t expect him to play a character like Dr. Mann. Throughout the film you get small pieces of people talking about Dr. Mann and what wonderful person he is, so when you meet him you have an expectation of what his character is like. But when Mann isn’t what he appears to be and you see the insanity that has corrupted him, casting Matt Damon in this role is so perfect. Matt has always played the good guy and to see him as the villain of Interstellar was truly inspiring. He threw away what people were expecting from him and created another great subtle villain for the film. Enraged by this desire to go home, you understand the reasoning for wanting to leave but the depths he’s willing to go to save himself are truly evil. Matt plays the role perfectly and for people who didn’t know he was in the film, it’s a brilliant moment. There are many great actors involved in Interstellar including John Lithgow, Ellen Burstyn and David Gyasi, but I do want to give a quick mention to Bill Irwin, who was the voice of TARS. He played the role brilliantly as this, at times, sarcastic robot and bought a lot of the humour into the film at times where it was needed. I think we can all safely say we want our own TARS in real life, because I know I do.
Speaking of epic scales, Nolan has pushed things even further than before when it comes to the visual style. Nolan is famed for making his films as realistic as possible but for Interstellar, he had to venture into new territory. The scenes in space and on the different planets are incredible to watch, at times it’s like you’re looking at a painting. The journey through the wormhole is awe-inspiring; the “library from hell” is insane to look at and the worlds are so visually incredible to see. The FX team behind the visuals went on the win the Academy Award. But not to be out done by space, the world created back on Earth is just as interesting. It’s so believable that you can imagine at some point in our future, the world actually being like this. You always hear stories about how at some point in the future we will run out of this and that, which makes the threat in Interstellar more impactful. The world building in Interstellar is Nolan at his best, realistic but bold enough to expand on what you thought you were going to get.
While Interstellar didn’t win my award for best film of 2014, it was a very close second. A few changes here and there and we could have had the best film of the year. That said it’s still a visual and emotional experience that everyone must live. If you didn’t see it on the big screen, you might not get the same experience if you’re watching it on your TV or laptop or phone (please dear God, don’t watch this on your phone), but it is essential viewing. While Interstellar isn’t as good as The Dark Knight, it is definitely one of Christopher Nolan’s best films ever and a definite hit play.
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Read our Christopher Nolan Essentials too!
Interstellar is out on DVD now!