Interstellar Review

Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Written by: Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Wes Bentley, Mackenzie Foy and Matt Damon

Matthew McConaughey

Unless you have a degree in quantum physics, forget trying to figure out the inner workings of Interstellar, Christopher Nolan’s overly ambitious foray into space. In 2010, Nolan astounded audiences with Inception, a heady thriller with stunning visuals and a mind-blowing plot. Audiences had never seen anything like it, and the film grossed almost 300 million dollars when it was all said and done. Don’t bank on Interstellar repeating that level of success. Its convoluted plot makes for an extremely frustrating watch, and I doubt audiences will have the patience for it.

Interstellar takes place in the future, when a dust bowl has engulfed the entire planet. Consequently, food resources have been disastrously depleted. Corn is the only sustainable crop, but its days are numbered. There seems to be little hope for the human race.

Former astronaut Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) stumbles upon a top secret NASA facility and is recruited to head an expedition to a new galaxy in the hopes of finding a planet suitable for colonization. Sounds simple enough, right? Things get complicated in a hurry, as the story tackles quantum physics, the theory of relativity, wormholes, fourth and fifth dimensions, time-travel and just for the hell of it-love.

Nolan is undeniably talented, and provides us with the haunting, beautiful visuals we’ve come to expect from him. But that’s part of the problem. There’s a sense of familiarity in Interstellar. It doesn’t feel as fresh as Inception, because it isn’t.


Interstellar feels more pretentious than innovative. At some point Nolan alienates the viewer with all the scientific theories; by the third hour watching Interstellar ceases to be enjoyable, it becomes a chore. It doesn’t help matters any that the score (by Hans Zimmer) and general noise level drown out key lines of dialogue.

Addressing one of these concepts might have been a smarter move, cramming all these concepts into one film makes for a maddening experience. Nolan throws us another curve ball when the characters pontificate on whether love is quantifiable. The conversation does not feel like a cohesive part of the story, and could have been entirely done away with. The way Nolan handles it feels very forced, even though it is briefly revisited.

The acting in Interstellar is fine, but takes a backseat to the plot. Anne Hathaway is a member of the expedition crew, and Jessica Chastain plays Cooper’s grown up daughter. Any number of actors could have filled these roles with the same results. That’s not a knock on the acting, but it won’t be what you think about afterward.

On artistic merit alone, Interstellar is very good, but the plot problems mire down the film. Part of the intrigue of Inception was the fact that upon repeated viewings, you could actually piece together the puzzle of the plot. I make no pretense that I will ever figure out Interstellar, and I have no desire to take a stab by watching it again. – Shannon

SCORE: 3 stars

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  • Lori Cerny

    Hmm, I was hoping for an awe-inspiring, realistic portrayal of space exploration. By your review, I’d debating whether to bother seeing this film now.

  • Mike Reilly

    Perhaps the overly saccharine elements are a holdover from when Spielberg was attached in the late Noughties. I’ll wait and decide when I see this next week. Maybe it’s one for the revisionists in another 30 years to decide upon (remember Bladerunner people!).

    Very balanced review Shannon, as always :)

  • Xidor

    What were the trailers before the film?

  • Indianamcclain

    This is a film you should see for yourself. It’s a very divisive film. Whereas Shannon didn’t like the film you may end up loving it.

  • Indianamcclain

    I saw it in IMAX and there were no trailers.

  • pcch7

    This review is right in the sweet spot. I definitely had sound issues and the movie is way to convoluted imo. Also, agree on Chastain and Hathaway, both fine actresses but don’t really do anything special in this. I’d add Topher Grace to that, not that he’s a fine actor but that he was unnecessarily cast. It just makes me think of That 70’s Show. Can’t tell me they couldn’t get anyone else to play that part.

    It has some similarities to Sunshine but Sunshine is vastly superior.

  • Shannon Adams Hood

    I really don’t want to dissuade people from seeing the movie. I agree with @indianamcclain:disqus that you should see it for yourself.

  • PlanBFromOuterSpace

    Strangely enough, I think young Murphy looked more like Hathaway than Chastain. Having avoided all but maybe the very first trailer (and not remembering much of it), I wasn’t sure of what Hathaway’s role was, so I figured maybe she would be the mom in flashbacks or something. No biggie. Also, not to really give anything away, and it’s not too big of a deal, but I don’t buy AT ALL that Chastain is supposed to be McConaughey’s age, or that Michael Caine, who looked quite elderly even at the beginning, would hang on for a couple more decades without really looking any older.

  • Shannon Adams Hood

    @PlanBFromOuterSpace Could not agree more with you. Young Murphy looked exactly like Hathaway. I thought that would figure into the film.

  • ftracy3

    Good points but I have to disagree on the overall experience. I really enjoyed it even though the time (and–sort of–) time travel elements don’t really make sense. The end sequence (kind of a 2001 homage) was a little long, but I can’t say I was ever bored. I guess I liked it more than you did–which confirms the theory of relativity.

  • Adam

    Shannon makes good points and while I agree that perhaps the film was convoluted I wouldn’t say it was confusing. Looking past the scientific dialog regarding theories and such it’s a rather straight forward film playing in three timelines with two being visited (ie seen by the viewer) and the third being implied.

    I think having repeat viewings of this film will allow you to piece together and better understand its puzzle, as you claim Inception does. The difference being that this film is based in fact/science (albeit theory) and Inception is based in, for lack of a better term, fantasy. This should be more accessible because if a theory is confusing then you can actually research it to better understand its mechanics.

    But again, if you strip away the theories and just accept that these things (time-travel/wormholes/etc) can happen within the films reality, then the movie is basically revolving around three timelines and is rather easy to follow.

    To each their own though, but I for one enjoyed the film immensely. Not only did it deliver on a visceral level but it also got me thinking about things beyond the scope of my own realm.

    Bonus points to Nolan for having silent exterior space shots too – we don’t get enough of those in todays film landscape.

  • kyri

    I really enjoyed the film, though surely I agree it is not for everyone..

  • Adam

    I made a chart to try and help better explain the films timeline(s)

  • Adam

    Just realizes I typed Copper a few times, lol

  • Jameson

    Good review although I’m surprised you gave this 3 stars. Based on what you said I would’ve thought something lower.

  • FDB

    I’m surprised there’s not a lot of talk about how visually uninspired it was. It felt like he went back to the same well a lot, both in terms of repeating himself in this movie, and repeating himself from Inception. The camera fixed to the exterior a ship was used about a dozen times, the visual of a large wall of whatever advancing towards the characters was used twice, and the visual of a world folded in over itself (as well as the shot on the ice planet with ground above and below the camera) was lifted from the dream sequence in Inception with Cobb teaching Juno how to manipulate the world. This movie was a weird mess that I think Spielberg could have done a lot with, but Nolan is too cold of a filmmaker to be appropriate for this, imo.

  • Colin

    And ‘morris’.

  • Adam

    Got me there. That’s what happens when you make things at 5am i suppose.

  • Phil

    For a death dream it’s too long a chunk of the movie and really, what would be the point of the documentary style interludes that existed in the first act and are called back to during that portion of the film? Was that Nolan testing our faith?

  • Glen

    That’s part of the problem with a 4 Star ratings system. There’s no room for subtlety and nuance.

  • But isn’t that what the written text is for? The subtlety and nuance.

  • What was the music used at the beginning of this review?

  • Jan

    Are you crazy? Easily the best film of 2014

  • pcch7

    Pfft, not even in the top ten bud.

  • JokyAim

    I did not mind the story telling. I was the best cinema experience I’ve ever had.
    The science is actually not that hard to understand and they explain everything from the ground up.