I don’t write movie reviews anymore. Not because of a lack of love for cinema, just because it’s a time thing and so many people do it so much better than I do. I ramble to friends in private and in the office.
There are exceptions, and Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar is very much one of them. The only problem is trying to marshal the plethora of things I felt in the hour after I saw it last night.
The plot is simple to start if labyrinthine by the time you get to the end – on a future Earth (we don’t know the date) the climate has changed, food is scarce, dust storms abound and everyone farms. Matthew McConaughey is a former test pilot who gets involved in a secret last-ditch attempt to move what’s left of the human race outside our solar system before , as a species, we starve to death.
First things first. Interstellar is long, beautiful and totally mind-wrecking. I came out of it feeling shredded and started blinking in the light of the foyer with friends and my wife all saying variations on “I don’t know how to deal with what we’ve just been given”.
The Nolan brothers balance genuinely tense action, philosophy, relativity theory, musings on god, small family stories, quantum physics and the future of the human race with the most accurate portrayals of space travel I’ve seen since 2001: A Space Odyssey.
It’s part Grapes Of Wrath, part Solaris, but 2001 is the movie with fingerprints all over this from the silence in a vacuum even during huge explosions to gateways around Saturn, spaceships that look like they would in reality and organ chords in Hans Zimmer’s score all the way to the jaw-dropping imagery of space travel and other planets he gives us at times.
Saying all that, it has what 2001 never had – real people, proper white-knuckle action and genuine human drama. As usual (and again, I ask, when did this happen???) Matthew McConaughey is one of the most watchable people on TV or in movies.
As a SF reader all my life it’s liberating to see big ideas and sweeping future vistas expressed in the form too that usually are left on the page in favour of aliens, space battles and shoddy science. It’s been a long, long time. In what is a breathtaking liberation too, Nolan doesn’t dumb everything down for the masses but instead, just as he did in Inception, forces us to run and play catch up with what’s happening onscreen. It’s worth the run.
I like to think that I would have felt the same as I did last night as I would have about 2001: A Space Odyssey if I’d walked out of a cinema having seen it in 1968. It is a rare breed – I came out of it bashed, boggled, exhilarated and thinking about it for hours. I’d go see it again today if I could.
Look, don’t get me wrong – Interstellar is long (2hr 49 mins), intelligent and very slow-moving in places. If you have problems not watching a whole Youtube or doublescreen every TV show you watch this might not be for you, but again it proves Nolan can make astonishing blockbusters that don’t play to any of the rules.
It is one of the best movies I’ve seen in years but you need to see it properly on a big, big screen.