Monday, 18 January 2016


“Science fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not.” - Isaac Asimov

I was wary about Christopher Nolan’s 2014 movie Interstellar before watching it, as his 2010 film “Inception” had disappointed me greatly (see my review here). However, after watching this 169 minute epic at the weekend I was pleasantly surprised. The screenplay was by the two Nolan brothers, Christopher and Jonathan, and the film starred Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Matt Damon and David Gyasi.

'Interstellar' is the story of a future earth dystopia, where climate change and a plant blight does not allow crops other than corn to grow. Worsening conditions and disease amongst the population mean that humanity’s extinction is almost certain. The hero of the movie is an ex-NASA test pilot named Cooper (McConaughey), who is a widower, and a dedicated family man (now corn farmer as all scientific jobs have been scrapped). He has two children, and is especially partial towards his bright daughter Murphy (named after Murphy’s Law). Cooper is invited by the now covert and top secret NASA to become humanity’s last hope in finding a new home, as a wormhole has appeared near Saturn. This provides a portal that will warp a spaceship to another galaxy in quest of a habitable planet. Heading the project is Professor Brand (Caine), a brilliant physicist, whose daughter (Hathaway) is also an astronaut that accompanies Copper on his mission.

This is an intelligent science fiction movie, not one based on pyrotechnics and arcade-style shoot-‘em-up chases in space. Although one has to suspend scientific belief now and then, most of the science is valid and to their credit, the Nolans did consult with astrophysicists when writing the script and making the movie. Relativity and the way that time becomes elastic for those who travel very fast through space is significant in the storyline. Alternate universes where more than three dimensions exist are also explored in the film. However, more importantly, the film’s main focus is that of love. How important is love to human beings and what are we capable of doing to ensure the safety of those we love. There are other themes, including the gregariousness of humans and the scourge of loneliness, the concept of heroism and altruism, especially as they relate to the good of society and humanity as opposed to the good of any one individual, and how honest are we as individuals, as organisations as a species…

The acting in the movie is excellent, with McConaughey pulling out all stops and delivering a suitably heroic performance, although his first allegiance script-wise is to the concept of fatherhood. Hathaway looks prematurely aged in the film and is quite a far cry from the ingénue roles of her early career. She plays her role convincingly and has good chemistry with McConaughey, although their relationship is not one of lovers. Caine in his old age has mellowed and as one would expect delivers his lines well and looks the part of a brilliant if flawed scientist. The musical score is brilliant and composer Hans Zimmer, adds considerably to the action, but even more importantly underlines the emotional motivation of the characters. The cinematography and special effects were of the standard one expects nowadays of Hollywood and were suitably unobtrusive so that they did not detract from the meat of the movie.

Nolan has made some very interesting and in some cases extremely good films. Some say “Inception” would be his masterpiece, but I beg to differ. Other people would say it’s “The Dark Knight”, or “Memento”. His remake of the Norwegian thriller, “Insomnia”, was excellent, not something that one can always say about remakes. His vision of the “Batman” sagas, starting with “Batman Begins”, is a gem of the super hero genre. There are many others, with a favourite of mine “The Prestige”, adapted from the novel of the same name, which is dark and disturbing, although quite entertaining.

We thoroughly enjoyed the movie and even if there are some inconsistencies and flaws in it, one can overlook them, as in totality this is an emotionally satisfying film and one that gets the viewer to think a little, going beyond simple entertainment and eye-candy value of many of the standard science fiction films.


  1. Great review, Nicholas! I really liked this film too but could not finish watching "Inception"...

  2. I've always wanted to see this movie, but never had the opportunity. Someday!