Joseph Austin reviews Oscar-tipped sci-fi movie Interstellar.
Christopher Nolan is a big deal.
The Dark Knight trilogy and Inception director is probably the most celebrated filmmaker of recent times.
His steady rise to near immortality began in 2000 with the influential thriller Memento.
Twelve years later, The Dark Knight Rises brought to an end one of the greatest trilogies in modern cinema, grossing well over $1bn worldwide.
Some have compared him to Steven Spielberg; both producing smart blockbusters with box office-smashing turnovers.
However, this comparison is more about their status as filmmakers – in that they can both pretty much do whatever the hell they like.
Enter Interstellar – Nolan’s latest and most ambitious film to date.
Starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, Interstellar explores the ideas of theoretical physicist Kip Thorne and his theories on wormholes and time travel.
If Inception’s dreams within dreams within dreams had your brain baffled then Interstellar will fry it, as there’s no hiding from its intellectual and sometimes overbearingly complex narrative.
Set in the near future, Earth’s food resources have been ravaged by disease and its climate has become harsh, leading to frequent dust storms and a scarcity of food.
When corn farmer and ex-Nasa pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) stumbles upon Nasa’s secret headquarters, he is told that unless humanity leaves Earth the human race will become extinct.
Discovering a wormhole orbiting Saturn, which is believed to be the work of extra-dimensional beings, Professor Brand (Michael Caine) and his daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway), reveal that potentially habitable worlds in a different galaxy can be reached by travelling through said wormhole, thus saving the human race from extinction.
Still with me?
Agreeing to pilot the spaceship Endurance, Cooper leaves his family – and daughter Murphy (as in Murphy’s Law) – behind, promising to return to her once the mission is complete.
At its foremost, Interstellar is awe-inspiring and almost overwhelming at times.
Its scale is incredible. As we follow the crew of the Endurance across the vastness of space it’s hard not to feel insignificant, sat in a multiplex theatre in your small town on our tiny planet.
Its pace is relentless and, rather annoyingly (and on more than one occasion), the dialogue is difficult to follow.
Concentration is crucial, as one lapse is enough to leave you scratching your head and wishing you were somewhere else... watching Batman, maybe.
Accompanied by the perfectly evocative tones of Hans Zimmer’s beautifully constructed soundtrack, Nolan produces some of the most stunning imagery seen in science fiction since Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Black holes, alien landscapes and space paradoxes are a wonder to behold, all but enhanced in Nolan’s preferred IMAX format.
Acting wise, McConaughey’s rise to stratospheric stardom has been clear for all to see of late.
Here the Dallas Buyers Club and Mud actor turns in yet another emotionally-hinged performance as pilot/father/leader Cooper.
One scene in particular springs to mind, as he watches back years of video messages after landing on a planet that for every hour costs decades for those back on earth.
Hathaway adds another weighty performance in her role as Cooper’s sidekick Brand, and Nolan returnee Michael Caine plays her scientific genius professor dad well enough.
Some noteworthy plot holes aside, Interstellar is a work of art.
There’s a feeling now that perhaps every new Nolan film will arrive with an expectation to outdo his previous.
If so, this will be hard to top.
Interstellar is many things; head-spinning, jaw-dropping and passionate, but above all else it’s an experience. Go see it.