Interstellar ★★★★

With designated masterpieces such as Memento, Batman Begins, The Prestige, The Dark Knight & Inception under his name, Christopher Nolan has risen exponentially through the ranks of American film industry as one of the finest contemporary filmmakers working today and, in a career that spans just over 15 years, has already cemented an impressive legacy with an incredibly devoted fan following that continues to grow every passing moment.

Truth be told, I was very skeptical about Interstellar before deciding to check it out on the big screen. The trailers weren't as intriguing as I hoped plus the early reviews were even more divisive than The Dark Knight Rises (Nolan's most flawed film, in my opinion) which further dented my expectations. So I went in without expecting much, hoping to be disappointed but in the end, Interstellar turned out to be one of this year's most exhilarating cinematic experiences for me plus I really admire what Nolan tries to do here.

Set in a near future, Interstellar presents a world that's unable to sustain humanity. With humans having reverted to an agrarian society due to shortage of food, their last hope for survival arrives in the form of a recently discovered wormhole which allows the possibility of intergalactic space travels. Piloting the spacecraft to embark on an interstellar voyage in search for a potentially habitable planet is Cooper whose relationship with his daughter is the very core element the film continues to revisit & explore throughout its runtime.

Valiantly directed by Christopher Nolan who today is one amongst the very few filmmakers who gets to make his films his way, with complete artistic control over his projects yet with a rare advantage of big-budget support from major Hollywood studios, Interstellar is an extremely ambitious & audacious effort from Nolan which exhibits the best & worst of his talents as a filmmaker for the sense of warmth he's able to invoke through those awe-inspiring moments of beauty & wonder kind of gets nullified by the clunky & expository dialogues which unfortunately inhabit the whole picture.

The screenplay is inspired from the works of Kip Thorne, a theoretical physicist, & was penned down by Jonathan Nolan until Chris took over the directional duties & merged his own ideas into the existing script. Now when it comes to outlining a plot structure, Nolan is a master strategist yet the one aspect of storytelling he continues to struggle with is in the use of subtext which is nearly absent in his films as he relies too much on dialogues to feed each n every moment to his viewers which, in a way, does make his stories more accessible to mainstream audience but also diminishes its overall impact.

Coming to the technical aspects, Interstellar is a marvel from start to finish. The bleak future of the human race that's on the verge of extinction is depicted in a very grounded manner while events unfolding in space manage to stay within the established realms of theoretical physics for the most part. Production design work is marvellous for the set pieces are meticulously detailed, VFX make minimum use of CGI yet enhances the visual presentation by a great deal, Editing keeps the interest alive despite its 169 mins of runtime & even Sound Design is excellently carried out.

Cinematography marks Nolan's first collaboration with someone other than Wally Pfister but his absence is hardly felt as Hoyte van Hoytema effortlessly steps into his shoes & elegantly captures the film in all its magnificence yet in a film full of such breathtaking visuals, it's heartbreaking that the camera never lingers on those moments of dazzling beauty which further exhibits Nolan's shortcomings as a visual storyteller. However, the mesmerizing score marks a welcome change from Hans Zimmer for it feels much more intimate, personal & emotional this time and is perfectly in tune with the film's events.

Coming to the performances, Interstellar features a star-studded cast in Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Bill Irwin, Casey Affleck & Michael Caine while also including cameos from Matt Damon, Ellen Burstyn & Topher Grace. McConaughey makes terrific use of his infectious screen presence here but his performance is a mixed bag. Hathaway is quite bland in her role, Chastain & Mackenzie Foy are the only ones who manage to leave a lasting impression while the artificially intelligent robot TARS (voiced by Bill Irwin) exhibits more character depth than its human counterparts.

On an overall scale, Christopher Nolan's ode to human spaceflight is a stellar work of science-fiction filmmaking that's worthy of praise, admiration & appreciation for its ambition alone yet what stops this space opera from reaching the levels of greatness is the lack of depth evident in its characters in comparison to the profundity present in its science. Not everyone is going to appreciate what Nolan aspires to do here but after the mishap that was his last film, Interstellar comes as a respite for this gifted filmmaker is still capable of leaving us in a state of pure bliss.

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