Interstellar ★★★★

I kind of wanted to hate this just so I could say "As this movie shows us, time is relative: every hour of Interstellar feels like seven years to the audience," but alas.

"Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

It's time for me to come clean about something. I'm not a big Christopher Nolan fan. Most people fall into two camps with him: either total genius or overrated idiot who happened to fool millions with his shiny imagery but empty ideas. Me? I'm somewhere in the middle. He's a director that I find has produced consistently entertaining films, but fail to hold up on re-watch due to glaring plot holes, gaps in the film's logic, and some simply bad storytelling. So I really wasn't expecting anything stellar (ha) out of his latest offering; in fact, the only reason I watched it was because I didn't want to be the only person on here who hadn't seen it. To say I went in expecting nothing would be a vast understatement.

Going to the cinema is, in the simplest possible terms, a magical experience. As the lights dim, there's an excited hum in the air, as each member of the audience is ready to be transported to another world. Even with my personal lack of hype, I couldn't help but feed off of the excitement of those around me, and begin to look eagerly forward to Christopher Nolan's new cinematic offering. As the film played, I was slowly pulled into Nolan's futuristic vision: he treats this special effects wonder as his playground, and his constant energy is always translated to the screen. When the film ended, I sat for a few minutes before getting up and then, in a total trance, stumbled to the bathroom when I noticed there were still tears rolling down my face (this is, by the way, the first of Nolan's films to move me to tears, so do with that what you will).

Interstellar excited me in ways that films rarely do (my favorite films, save for 2001, are generally more dread-inducing than wonder-inducing, though 2001 also has its fair share of dread). In certain scenes, Interstellar had me grinning ear to ear, thinking like a child about how. freaking. cool. space is! Similar to last year's Gravity, I do know that a huge part of this wonder is due to the IMAX atmosphere, and that I wouldn't get the same effect at home, or even in a non-IMAX theatre, so take my wonder with a grain of salt. I'm a relatively large science fiction fan, but in recent years I feel the genre has fallen off of what made it great. As much as I love it, it started with 2001: A Space Odyssey, then Star Wars, then Blade Runner. Science fiction has been getting bigger, but its ideas have only been getting smaller (all of those aforementioned films have big ideas, 2001: A Space Odyssey in particular, but the films that tried to copy off of them did not). While Interstellar is not a total revelation in the genre (its ideas cannot really support themselves under scrutiny), it is certainly a step in the right direction.

While we're on the topic of 2001: A Space Odyssey, I must say this: it has become habit to compare every sci-fi film that has come out after 1968 to 2001. And I don't understand it. I've seen it from Star Wars to Gravity, neither of which I could understand the comparison, and now I see it with Interstellar (even by the director himself). Like, sure, special effects-wise, Interstellar is as much of a visual treat as 2001 is, but otherwise I don't see any similarities. Even in the air-lock scene (which both films have), they are handled completely differently. I guess gone are the days when we could judge a film on its own... (I do kind of see how the black hole sequence is comparable to Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite, but that comparison still feels like it's pushing it.)

Still, even with everything great on display here, Interstellar is not without its problems. Every criticism that had been given to Christoper Nolan (including ones by me) are present here: none of the background characters are three-dimensional, he fails to communicate that our protagonist (and Dr. Brand) aren't the only people with anything to lose, his ideas are scattered and not fully formed, there is way too much exposition, he relies on dialogue and pretty pictures too heavily, and his film can barely support its own running time (though this review can barely support its own length, too). Still, I have come to this wonderful conclusion that I rarely come to: I don't care. I'm not one to be a passive consumer of media: if something I watch has a problem, I'm gonna exploit the hell out of it. Still, Interstellar was entrancing enough that none of these problems pulled me out of the experience (though I'm sure this will be different upon re-watch).

This is the film Nolan has been building towards his entire career - a culmination of everything that has come before. Sure, sometimes this film has more ambition than he can handle, but, for the first time in his entire career, it's safe that say that I cannot wait to see what he does next. Interstellar could stand to be quite a bit shorter (in fact, I really would have loved for the film to end at the line "What happens next?", but I guess that's not the kind of ambiguity Nolan likes), but it's probably Nolan's most solid film (with Inception and The Dark Knight close behind), and definitely his most stylistically and thematically coherent.

Whoever said the world ended with a whimper obviously didn't tell Christopher Nolan.

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