Interstellar ★★★★½

I avoided reading too much about Interstellar, preferring to treat it as all good science fiction should be: a discovery. Walking out of the theatre, I instantly registered two types of criticism I could expect when I finally did start reading about it: the type that sees only technical flaws on the surface of this film, and those that got hung up on its literal qualities. There would also be a third, more ridiculous, type - from those that found the film too heavy on emotion - which I simply can't account for because I find that completely counter to my own experience. In all cases, these opinions are wrong.

First, make no mistake - this is a masterpiece of science fiction. It's an ambitious drama that reaches for the limits of scientific understanding in order to frame its story. But it's fiction, after all, and seeking to pull such a film apart piece by piece on its technicalities is futile. It's the reach that allows depth, and of course the reach requires stretching. Because science itself can be very boring... Or at least stories about people, framed solely by pure, known and wholly understood science would probably be. Which is why nobody makes them.

That's what Cosmos is for.

Secondly, Nolan's approach is often misunderstood by being taken too literally. His voice as a filmmaker has always been deeper than merely superficial, and his movies almost always subvert their literal messaging to create something far more powerful. Which is why, in the climactic moments of the film, what Cooper (McConaughey) says is not meant to be literal. It's an expression of the hopes for humanity and an understanding of the strong connection between sentient, emotional life.

While it sounds like I'm defensive for this film out of the gate, I actually raise these point because they represent traits that I think are Interstellar's most special attributes. These and the staggeringly beautiful visual effects (we can't forget those).

The performances are incredibly strong, with Chastain, Hathaway and McConaughey delivering a complete range of emotions at all decibels. Grounded in its characters and spanning generations, it's these performances and those of the supporting cast (some that may even surprise you) that drive the film and its motivations.

An incredible Zimmer score will rattle you – especially if you see it in IMAX as I did – and its booming, resonant organ hook reinforces the grand dimension of emotion that the film. It’s truly captivating, and being surrounded by it in a theatre is an experience worth having all on its own.

Interstellar is a truly remarkable film, and as part of a filmmaker’s career that has only dabbled in science fiction elements (Inception, most notably, but also The Prestige), it’s a true delight to see how Nolan's approach to narrative can span the galaxies. While I don’t think we’ll see him tackling science fiction again for some time, his first holistic investment in the genre is surely a substantial one.