Film Review: Interstellar

by Sam Robinson

Rated M. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain. Directed by Christopher Nolan.

If any film is going to shake you up silly this year, you can count on it being Interstellar.

Christopher Nolan’s new sci-fi epic is an intense ride through time and space, and as you’d expect, it’s a certified mind-bender. It’s set in a future where a global famine is imminent and mankind may become extinct. Cooper (McConaughey) is a widowed engineer who finds himself heading up a NASA mission to travel through a newly-discovered wormhole to find new planets to inhabit. He leaves his two kids behind on earth, and partners with a crew including Amelia Brand (Hathaway) and TARS, an awkward futuristic robot that looks like a cross between an iPad and a few jenga blocks.

I was fortunate enough to see Interstellar on an IMAX screen and considering a high percentage of the film was shot in this high-def format, it really is the best way to see it. The action on such a large screen is quite often a sensory overload and Christopher Nolan has mastered the visuals to a point that tops other breathtaking films such as Gravity. The places that the astronauts journey to feel familiar, but there’s plenty of surprises in store.

The soundtrack crafted by Hans Zimmer is excellent. Some bombastic, repetitive synths and in-your-face organ put you on edge, and deathly silence creates a haunting atmosphere as spaceships float through seemingly infinite galaxies. McConaughey brings a stellar (no pun intended) performance to this, as a believably emotional father who just wants to help save the world. Mackenzie Foy (who clearly has a bright future ahead) is also brilliant as Cooper’s young daughter, Murph.

Visuals, effects and performances aside, Interstellar is not a perfect film. The pacing of the story is inconsistent and catches you off guard at times. There are long sequences in some places, and in others, abrupt jumps forward in time with little chance to catch up. At times I wished the dialogue would take the back seat – there’s these scientific theorising pow-wows among the astronaut crew which weigh down all the action. And as compelling as the film is, a near three-hour runtime is a big ask, particularly when the final act heads into troubled and complex scientific territory.

Like Inception, this is a film you need to talk about and process afterwards, and will no doubt leave you asking questions that can only be resolved through another viewing. I was awake for hours after seeing it.

‘We’re not meant to save the world; we’re meant to leave it.’

As you’d expect from a film set in space, there’s a lot of talk about what or who might be out there in the stars. Whenever the thought of a creator is mentioned, it is referred to as a “they”, not God. Questions of faith, love and more are discussed, and resurrection is a major theme.

Interstellar delves into who we are as humans as much as it does space travel. Human emotion is proven to be as complex as the science and theories that are discussed. But it’s the humanity and strained relationship between Cooper and his daughter Murph that becomes the glue that holds Interstellar together. Cooper leaves earth at the drop of a hat and leaves his daughter behind in the process. There is great pain in the distance between them.

It brings me great joy to know that our Heavenly Father is not light years away. Not only did our God create the universe with all its complexity and beauty, but he promises to never leave us. In John 14:6-7, Jesus says:

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

No matter where we are in this massive universe, God is with us. This was made possible when God entered into the world he made in the form of a man – the equivalent of a tiny speck on a massive screen. He died in our place, so that when we trust in him, he promises that he will always be with us by his Spirit. Always!

The God that made the stars and the planets now dwells with us, and never leaves. There’s a scene in the final act (involving separation) which made me all the more thankful that this is true. I hope it moves you in that way too.

Interstellar a space tale that while not perfect, is unmatched visually. Nolan will rattle you and cause you great grief, which proves he is at the top of his game in creating engaging cinema. Jump through the wormhole and see this in IMAX. Four stars.

Interstellar will release in Australia on November 6th, and in the US and UK on November 7th.

For more film reviews from a Christian perspective, connect with Reel Gospel on Facebook and Twitter.

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