Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Mathew McConaughey, John Lithgow, McKenzie Foy, Anne Hathaway, Michael Cane, Jessica Chastaine
Interstellar is the second big space flick for a fall release expected to make big bank. The first was of course Gravity starring Sandra bullock and George Clooney. The fact that they are both highly stylized space based films invites comparison but any comparison not only doesn’t make sense but it’s also not fair. Gravity is a small story set in a big space, pun intended. Gravity is a simple character based story. Interstellar is an epic story set in an even bigger space. Sure Interstellar finds its base in character but it’s much more than a character coming of age story.
Interstellar is set in a future version of Earth that has nearly destroyed itself. The days that humans can continue to survive are being counted, and yes there are those scientists working on a solution. The solution isn’t a fix for the planet; the solution is to simply find a new planet to live on. Mathew McConaughey’s Cooper and his daughter Murph inadvertently stumble on said scientists, or so they think. It turns out that Cooper is the man to pilot an experimental ship that will travel into a black hole with a team to find a new home.
First of all I was happy to see that this film didn’t turn into a message film for global warming, which is something that happens a lot these days. Industry is bad and it’s destroying the world with its evil goodies that we all so desperately want. Fact is that what is destroying the world has no importance in this story. All that matters is something must be done. The story that follows is complex, beautiful, action packed, innovative, and imaginative. The film isn’t as perfect as I had hoped though.
The first mistake is the importance the marketing for the film placed on the “real science”. Even director Christopher Nolan touted how much work he did with real scientists on the script and direction of the film. It’s very difficult to adhere perfectly with science when telling a big budget adventure story and when so much of the science is theoretical there will be naysayers. The attempt to make the science as grounded as possible should have been a footnote rather than a marketing tool. The controversy detracted from the fantasy of the film. The focus on science and the collaboration with scientists as consultants did make the film feel a little cold at times when an emotional root would have helped keep the film relatable. There are emotional moments that work well, just not as many as there should have been. That’s about it for any complaints I have, seriously. This is a great film.
The story is intriguing, often riveting, and there are some surprises that aren’t telegraphed; you just have to pay attention to this film. This isn’t cotton candy; it’s a gourmet dinner with many courses. I’d like to think that Interstellar is an evolution of what Stanley Kubrick would be doing today if he were still alive. That’s high praise I know but overall it’s deserved. There’s no denying the homage of Kubrick’s work throughout the film from the sparse soundtrack to the quiet but stunning visuals that are highly art directed.
It would be easy to get out deep and dissect the meanings in the film but that would just be too spoilery. As much money as the film made in theaters I feel like a large group of viewers skipped the film fearing it was too brainy for them, so there’s a lot to discover here and I won’t ruin it. The cast, from McConaughey to John Lithgow, young McKenzie Foy, Anne Hathaway, Michael Cane, and Jessica Chastaine were all pretty great. Chastaine actually brings the most successful emotional moments while Hathaway brings one of the failings, even though she is otherwise great. The visuals are a nice mix of cgi and actual props and the art design is pretty solid with the robots being the most effective.
No Interstellar isn’t quite the monumental breakthrough I was hoping for but that’s only because it was swinging for the fences and beyond and it just barely missed getting there.
Presented in a 2.35:1 and 1.78:1 (for IMAX sequences) Interstellar looks truly jaw dropping on blu-ray. Having seen the film twice on 15/70 IMAX, the film truly looks spectacular, especially during the imax sequences that take up nearly one third of the entire film’s running time. Skin tones look incredibly earthy and realistic while the black levels tend to crush from time to time during some of the earlier earth scenes it’s always minimal and never really detracts from the presentation. I did not see any blanding, haloing or any other detractions. Details are high and colors pop while still having the dusty and clean white look of the film. Interstellar, simply put, looks amazing in almost every single frame.
Presented in a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, Interstellar, in a single word: intense. When I viewed this film in IMAX the first thing I honestly noticed was the audio mix being LOUD and incredibly bass heavy and, to put it mildly, it’s the most bass I’ve ever heard in a mix. I was seriously nervous putting this disc in, afraid that it would hurt my system, and while it didn’t do any damage, I might have woken up my neighbors. The subwoofer usage is NUTS levels of good while the whole sound system gets a vigorous workout. Dialogue is (almost) always at the front and center with it being prioritized with little exception when the music decides to be louder, causing some issue with being able to understand the dialogue. While in the IMAX I had no problems with this (possibly it due to being mixed for IMAX) I did notice the issue in regular theatres and on this disc. While its very minor, everything else is an intense and outstanding sound mix that will seriously make the walls shake and your parents/neighbors knock on your door asking “what in the hell is that!?”.
Packaging and Bonus Features
First off the packaging and art on the cover is good but not as remarkable as it should be by any means. Now to the supplemental materials:
“The Science of Interstellar” is a 50 minute dissection of the hard science in the film by scientist Kip Thorne. Not even Mathew McConaughey narration can keep this from being dry. It is interesting though, worth at least one watch for conversations sake.
“Inside Interstellar” is the true meat and potatoes of the bonus features. This two hour documentary goes in depth into the making of the film from writing, casting, score, and practical and digital effects.
The trailers are also included here. So where are the audio commentaries? This release needed a few more bonus features but what we do get is great.
Interstellar may easily be one of the most ambitious films of the last ten years and it delivers more often than it doesn’t. There’s so much in this film that it begs to be watched over and over again and watched with different people each time for post viewing conversation.