Interstellar Review: Come for the Science, Stay for the Science

Interstellar—Christopher Nolan’s space odyssey—is a gorgeous, if imperfect, movie. First, let me say, I saw this movie in IMAX, and I definitely recommend that experience—unless you easily get motion sick. (I always thought those stories of people getting sick in IMAX movies were sort of bullshit, but more than once during this movie I found myself gripping the armrests out of more than fear/anticipation/excitement. So sensitive-stomached moviegoers I previously judged, I’m sorry.)

Has anyone seen my speedo? My set starts in 5 minutes! Has anyone seen my speedo? My set starts in 5 minutes!

Matthew McConaughy is Cooper (is that his last name and first name? No one ever calls him anything besides that, but his kids have the last name Cooper… am I the only person this bothered? Probably), living on an Earth on its last legs, at least in regard to human survival, as its having a hard time sustaining any food growth. We spend a good chunk of time with the people depressively dealing with this bleak future, including Coop, his kids Tom and Murphy, and his father-in-law. However, luckily, Coop stumbles upon the scantly surviving NASA, which has managed to become a shadowy underground organization with a plan—find a new Earth via a wormhole that’s appeared near Saturn. Family drama ensues as Coop has to leave his family (and clearly favored daughter) for extended spacetime heroics.

Pretty sure I saw it hanging up in air-lock 3.  Pretty sure I saw it hanging up in air-lock 3.

Then we hit some galaxy voyaging, and the space renderings in this movie are definitely the best part (although there are a couple of nice emotional moments, in particular, from McConaughy and Jessica Chastain, who plays the grown-up Murphy, too). There are always unforeseen problems when you move somewhere new, and Interstellar isn’t any exception—although the issue of relativity probably doesn’t come up quite so much in Earthbound real estate. All of the characters—including one very surprising A lister appearance—bring serious emotional weight to the story—and, of course, all the good moments of levity go to unemotional robotic companions TARS and CASE. Watching all these people fight to survive can definitely be melodramatic, but it’s also affecting and engaging. This ride is definitely thrilling—but it’s also a little exhausting.

Found it!! Found it!!

There are definitely some plot contrivances/quirks that probably should have been worked out in Interstellar, but I think the biggest issue is the length of this movie. It could have used some better editing. (This was also my problem, incidentally, with Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. In The Dark Knight, I felt like there wasn’t a motive, movement, or word that was wasted, but in Rises, there were odd dangling plot threads and some weird and unneeded tangents.) In Interstellar, if you’re going to ask your audience to try to understand some almost Neil deGrasse Tyson-level science, maybe don’t make them do it at the end of a three-hour, emotionally wrenching experience.

I liked the story here, the adventure and excitement, the performances, and the drive for something better, the Inception and 2001 nods, and the thoughtfulness throughout, as well as its attention to uncertainty and needed sacrifice. But I think it also probably could have sacrificed some of those early dirty Earth minutes in favor of a little more energy for the end of the movie.

Overall, I definitely recommend it, but it might be best with the possibility of a nap afterward.

Official Trailer:

Interstellar is out now in a theater near you.

About The Author

Abby Penning

Following in footsteps the likes of: Nora Ephron, Frances Fitzgerald and Eppie Lederer, Abby seeks to hone her opinion into a sharp and decisive tool used to inform and educate the masses - unless they don't agree, then she just beats them to death with it. Also a lover of pop-culture and friendly debates (arguments), Ms. Penning finds the world of modern entertainment so fascinating and compelling she can't contain her thoughts on what she consumes! Educated, articulate and opinionated, Abby's most distinguishing feature is her ability to work a minimum of 4 jobs for 80+ hours a week (Isn't that called work-a-holic?) When asked, "Why do you work so much, Abby?" she simply posed, "Who would do it better?" (Just kidding, I can't actually publish what she said.) Make sure to cruise her column, Ask Abby..., and to Contact Us with your questions for our thoughtful editor.

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