Disclaimer: This article will contain no spoilers for “Interstellar.”
Every movie has a goal that it sets out to accomplish, both narratively and as a piece of art. The bigger the movie, the more it usually tries to pull off. With “Interstellar,”director Christopher Nolan has given audiences his most ambitious movie yet (which, after “Memento,” “The Prestige,” “The Dark Knight” trilogy, and “Inception,” is really saying something). The film shows humanity struggling to stay in existence as they slowly run out of food and resources. Matthew McConaughey, still riding the wave of the McConaissance, stars as Joseph Cooper, a farmer who is tasked with saving mankind by traveling through a wormhole and finding a planet capable of sustaining human life. Nolan, as he always does, takes his time letting the movie reach its climax. At two hours and forty-nine minutes, it’s as gargantuan in length as it is in scope. Nolan drives home the vast, infinite blackness of space, and it carries over into the depictions of Earth and the foreign planets the crew travels to; the worlds feel endless.
Unfortunately, the development of Interstellar’s characters can’t keep up with the visuals, nor can it give the considerable acting talent any room to work with. McConaughey is joined by Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Jessica Chastain, and an unbilled A-list actor, who gives the movie a refreshing dose of humanity and vulnerability. Wes Bentley (American Beauty, The Hunger Games) and Topher Grace (That 70s Show, Traffic) have bit parts that feel over casted. The theme of family hangs over the entire movie and is the sole source of motivation for the space crew (other than, you know, saving mankind). It grows stale over nearly three hours, even though the acting makes up for the generic themes.
But ultimately, the sheer experience of seeing the movie in the theater was enough to make it worth the price of admission. Seeing Nolan movies at home on a television never does them justice. Seeing the crew in their ship, Endurance, as a tiny dot moving along the rings of Saturn, or traveling through a wormhole (which apparently is depicted accurately, and is one of the highlights of the film) is exhilarating and humbling. Whether or not Nolan believes that humanity will reach the level of desperation he shows in the movie, it’s a scary thought. Almost as scary as being marooned on a planet in another galaxy.
As someone who has a difficult sitting still for long periods of time, I was compelled from start to finish. Watching Nolan attempt to cover so much ground (or dare I say…so much space) is more entertaining than the majority of movies I’ve seen in the theater in recent years, even if he bit off more than he could chew.
Grade: 2.5 out of 5 stars