The much anticipated film by the critical darling Christopher Nolan has arrived. This director has had monumental success thus far with such masterpieces as “Memento,” “Inception” and, of course, “The Dark Knight.” So how does “Interstellar” stack up compared to this entourage of great films? Not well, I’m afraid. In fact, I would go as far to say that “Interstellar” is Nolan's worst film yet—not bad per se, but certainly not as impressive as other works in his filmography.
This film centers around Matthew McConaughey’s character, Cooper, who used to be an engineer and in consideration for a space mission before a blight begins to kill most of the crops humans depend upon for survival. The government, in response, restructures society in such a way as to encourage people to pursue farming as a way to counteract the bug. Schools encourage students to become farmers and dissuade them from the sciences. They even go as far as to claim that the lunar missions were an elaborate piece of propaganda to destroy the Soviet Union in their efforts. But with the blight on the cusp of destroying the world's one viable crop, Cooper is called forth by the remnants of NASA to leave his family and find a new home for humanity in the depths of space.
This film strives to tell an emotive tale of human struggle all to the backdrop of real science. On the scientific aspect, the film largely succeeds. With the excellent use of cinematography that Nolan is known for, “Interstellar” does a superb job of visualizing and contextualizing Einstein’s theory of relativity, specifically the relativity of time; however, there are some minor hiccups. Apparently, this film does not think humans need nitrogen despite its presence in DNA and protein, and the scientific backdrop is lost in the third act for a more emotional finale. Besides just the technical bits, the film has a great emotional heart with Cooper and his daughter that carries the film in its lowest points.
Given how the movie plot is shaped, it demands a more character-driven approach which Steven Spielberg, being the master of whimsy that he is, would be able to do in his sleep. Nolan, on the other hand, struggles as his style is best with the narrative in the driving seat. So what normally should be powerful character moments are replaced with expositions and dry monologues which are unneeded in a film like this.
“Interstellar” also suffers due to its length. A story this simple should not need this long of a running time. The actions that are done to extend it are so contrived, unnecessary and borderline laughable. The cake of this is Matt Damon’s character, who demonstrates all the faults and criticisms of Nolan’s style such that he seems to have come straight out of a parody of some sort. If you are looking for a beautiful cinematic experience then go see this movie, but anything beyond that, save your money.