Christopher Nolan's INTERSTELLAR is an ambitious, sprawling, complicated science fiction film surrounded by a story of family, love and commitment.
In a non-specific year in the future that could be a year from now or ten years from now, the Earth is a barren place. Farmers cultivate the last crops on the planet as the atmosphere chokes with dust.
Matthew McConaughey stars as Cooper, a former astronaut turned farmer who is recruited through a startling series of events to rejoin the hidden remnants of NASA.
As he did with "The Prestige" and "Inception", Nolan weaves a very complicated web of interconnected events that drive our characters. Also like those films, multiple viewings of Interstellar will likely unravel additional layers of the story in plain view, but unseen upon first look.
As Cooper and fellow astronaut Brand (Anne Hathaway), Doyle (Wes Bentley) and Romilly (David Gyasi) leave Earth, the story take off.
Their voyage takes them to a wormhole that has appeared next to Saturn that will rocket them to multiple universes far away in time to explore a new planet hospitable to humans.
The less you know from this point forward, the better. Try to avoid the multiple spoilers online and in other reviews and let the film unwind around you.
Their travels are filled with exploration of planets with ocean waves 100 stories high, barren ice covered worlds and incredible windows into time from very specific hallways of the universe.
Against the travels, Cooper's children grow up in search of answers. Cooper's daughter Murph (effectvely played by Mackenzie Foy as a ten year old and Jessica Chastain as an adult) grows from inquisitive youngster to NASA scientist in support of the mission but challenged in her relationship with her father.
There are many surprise stars in key roles, some shocking turn of events and a lot of stunning action set pieces. Interstellar has deep similarities to Kubrick's 2001. Cooper's singular exploration of the black hole will certainly remind 2001 fans of Dave Bowman's travels beyond Jupiter.
"Silent Running" fans will see many similarities to Huey and Duey the robots in their striking, 21st century versions TARS and CASE.
Is this a great, challenging, ambitious film. YES.
Is it one of my favorites from Nolan, no.
Michael Caine is underused, the music score from Hans Zimmer is one note and dull, some of the scenes that I felt were supposed to fill me with wonder (Cooper in the hallways of light, cryptic enough not to need a spolier alert) just left me kind of flat.
There are some pretty major plot holes when it comes to the rules of time and space travel that seem to bend at will to suit the storyline.
BUT at the end of the day, Nolan delivers a smart and enjoyable film. This wouldn't even be in my top 4 Nolan films, but its still one of the best films of the year.
McConaughey continues a fantastic year with a heartfelt and powerful performance.
Family and Love is at the heart of this story.
After nearly three hours of stunning effects and visual wonders, you are left with a message that carries great power in its simplicity.
Like most of Nolan's films, I'll have to see it again to figure out just how all the pieces fit together.
Unlike some of his films, I'll be in no hurry to rush out and see this one again. It felt a little like M. Night Shyamalan snuck in and did a final misguided polish on what would have been a great Nolan film.
That's not a good thing.
We'll give Interstellar a B.