3 stars
In space, they say, no one can hear you scream. Nor in the theatre it seems, despite many opportunities afforded by the latest sci-fi epic from Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Rises, Inception). For if you see Interstellar in all its Imax glory, best check vertigo at the door as the film runs through one gasp-inducing moment after another.
Which is not to say that all these moments are good. Many are odd and perplexing, prone to a different kind of gasp. While self-indulgent is a big word, one that over-reaches Nolan's own over-reach, it comes close to summing up 169 largely entertaining, occasionally awe-inspiring, frequently head-scratching and entirely bum-numbing minutes.

In the not too distant future, farmer Cooper (Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club) is seduced by NASA, a now secretive organisation, to locate an inhabitable planet for mankind: Earth's food supply has reached crisis point, our future is now in space. But before he and Dr Brand (Anne Hathaway – Alice In Wonderland) are fired across the galaxy, Cooper makes a promise to return home safely. What he doesn't reckon on are the perils of relativity and before you can say wormhole, he's younger than his daughter (Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty) and that promise is looking decidedly shaky.

For better and worse, Interstellar is a very uncomfortable amalgam of what made Star Trek, Gravity and 2001: A Space Odyssey iconic films. The ghost of Gene Roddenberry sits in the wings as they align a human story to further probe the human condition. Man's role in its own demise is framed with a home-goal ecological disaster. They're nice touches. Nolan's spectacular action sequences are set largely in space and, as always, are beautifully staged. Yet they also lean heavily on the singular vision of Gravity's Alfonso Cuarón and with Anne Hathaway suited up, it's hard to avoid the comparison. When the story takes its final spin and drops (impossibly) through a black (plot) hole to emerge in five dimensional book case (literally), Stanley Kubrick's kookier concerns float to the story's surface. Derivative is another big word.

Ironically for a film anchored around time relativity, all of this would be much easier to digest if there wasn't so much, er, time to ponder it all. As the story begins thrashing around in search of a theme, and characters are saddled with unlikely, life-positioning dialogue, Nolan's purpose becomes murkier and murkier. Is this an action film, a character piece, a disaster flick, a existential treatise or what? Who knows. Throw in the maniacal (uncredited) Matt Damon and the withholding Professor Michael Caine (doing his best Morgan Freeman before a wheel chair turns him into Charles Xavier) and the problems pile up. It's the familiarity of these emotional plot points that undoes the potential of

Which is not to say that Interstellar is a bad film because it isn't. There are many startling moments of technological power, digital wonder and inspired beauty in terms of composition, script and character that mark the film ahead of the pack. It's simply that there are so many moments, over so much time, that it becomes difficult to say what Interstellar is really all about. Nolan's fevered imagination seems to be running unchecked which is both the movie's strength and its weakness as considerably more interesting ideas of pain and sacrifice are replaced by thuddingly familiar emotional plot points. 'Love conquers all' simply doesn't cut it, and from a master storyteller like Nolan, it's disappointing. Fortunately, in the theatre, as in space, no one can hear you yawn.


Previewed at Events Cinema, George St, Sydney on October 28, 2014

Matthew McConaughey
Anne Hathaway
Michael Caine
Jessica Chastain

Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan
Jonathan Nolan



169 minutes

November 6, 2014
Interstellar (2014) on IMDb