Let me just get this out of the way: Interstellar is a flawed film. It constantly feels like it's rushing through the story, it features too many bland and, frankly, unimportant characters, and Christopher Nolan goes way overboard with the exposition, especially towards the end of the film. That being said, Interstellar is BY FAR the most ambitious mainstream film to hit theaters in a very long time, and for that alone, I can't help but admire Nolan and what he was trying to accomplish, even if he didn't quite reach his goals.
Even though the film is heavily invested in black holes and venturing into the unknown, the heart of the story is about the relationship between Cooper (played perfectly by Matthew McConaughey) and his daughter, Murphy (Mackenzie Foy, who's surprisingly strong as well). Although not a lot of time is spent between the two characters, their bond is felt early on and gives this film an emotional core than very few of Nolan's previous efforts have possessed.
My first gripe with the film, though, is that we spend very little time on Earth with Cooper. Most of the scenes before the launch were already shown in the previews, so these were a bit tedious to revisit on the big screen. Not only that, but much of the earthbound supporting cast (especially John Lithgow and Casey Affleck) are given next to nothing when it comes to character development or even a reason to be in the film. But, some such as Jessica Chastain, (save for her ridiculous paper-throwing scene), are able to carry these scenes to the finish line.
But, the true beauty of the film is the IMAX footage on the other planets or even on Earth. Every wide shot is breathtaking, and if you can, please watch this film is in true IMAX (I saw it in 70mm IMAX). That's how you're gonna get the most out of it. This film and its scope is absolutely massive, easily making this the grandest of Nolan's career thus far.
What happens next in the film is mix of elements from various sci-fi films such as Sunshine, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and even Nolan's Inception. When these elements work, they work in spades, some of which lead to Nolan's greatest work as a director to date, and that's no exaggeration. But when some elements don't work, the film falls flat on its face. One character is literally only in the film to form a (cliched) plot device, devoting them of any humane elements that other characters in the film might have. But, I can't complain, because even though this thirty-minute segment of the film awkwardly shifts the films tone into something more sinister, it also leads to the films greatest moment.
Of all the movies that Interstellar tries to aim for, its biggest influence is clearly 2001. There's a powerful scene that Nolan creates late in the film that's almost a mirror image of one found in 2001, and it actually works not only as a homage, but also as a dramatic sequence on its own. Sadly, Nolan's infamous exposition comes into play and nearly ruins the entire scene. Christopher Nolan really does need to figure out when to not have his character spell out their every thought or even the theme of the movie. It feels super unnatural and it takes me out of the film.
All that being said, the film is extremely ambitious, and I admire it for that. So for all its flaws, I can't help but still congratulate Nolan for at least trying to form a game-changer in this blockbuster sub-genre. Sadly, he extends his reach too far, but what we're left with is a film with MANY different discussion points and themes. Sadly, whatever subtlety Nolan had as a director in the past was lost after the final shot of Inception. Thankfully, his visual skills, especially when it comes to creating set-pieces, has improved tremendously.
It might be Nolan's weakest script, but the film is his great endeavor when it comes to emotional resonance and extreme scope. He even manages to throw in a few humorous lines in the film, which is surprising given that Nolan's films usually feature a laugh or two, if you're lucky. He just needs to polish up his scripts more, that's all.
On a visual level, Interstellar is a modern-day masterpiece. The IMAX footage floored me and the cinematography was stellar. But, Nolan still treats his audiences like idiots, even when he (ironically) isn't trying to aim it towards us. His talk of quantum physics and wormholes probably went over most peoples' heads, but it was the simple things that could have been explained just by showing a characters' facial expressions that he over-analyzes or explains to the brim. Not only that, by the array of non-important characters getting more screen-time than the important ones is also mind-boggling as well.
This film feels like it took the first draft of potentially exhilarating and ground-breaking film on all levels and filmed what they had instead of waiting and fleshing out the story with a few more drafts. Which is a shame, because Nolan really did put a lot of effort into the film and you can tell. It just that he needs to learn from his mistakes and focus on how to improve them. Because it's mainly his writing skills that are holding him down. Otherwise, Interstellar would have been a slam-dunk for cinema. In the end, it's very hard not to be impressed by what's shown on-screen, but the fact that it could have been even better is what brings the film back down to Earth.
I'm just glad that we have someone today working on big-budget movies that isn't afraid to try something new instead of going with the same formula over and over again. It's refreshing. Because I'd much rather have a flawed, but thought-provoking film like this than a safe and predictable one like Guardians of the Galaxy.