Interstellar: The Kotaku Review

There’s something strange about Christopher Nolan movies. It’s difficult to shake, but near impossible to verbalise. Essentially, it's a lack of internal volition. In The Dark Knight, when Batman is speeding onto the highway in his Batmobile, your brain recognizes this is a 'cool moment that people will later describe to you as cool’, but you’re not really connected with that moment in any real visceral sense. In Nolan movies action (and drama) is often held at a distance.

Inception was a real low point. It was — and I recognize I’m in the minority here – a movie without heart or dramatic momentum. A glorious high concept strangled beneath the weight of its own exposition. It is without doubt, the dullest, least imaginative movie ever made about dreams. A movie where you never really feel the weight of consequence or the glorious weirdness of dreams. In Inception everything of importance is held at an icy distance.

I bring these things up – that disconnect, Nolan’s penchant for squandering grand high concepts – because these are the ideas that framed my expectations for Interstellar: another movie with a grand high concept, another movie about big ideas that would ultimately flounder. I walked into the theatre expecting – again – these high concepts would be squandered.

I left the theatre believing that Interstellar was Nolan’s best movie yet.

Set in a near future where earth is dying and space travel is humanity’s last chance for survival, Interstellar is a piece of science-fiction grounded by – first - a commitment to its own high concept and – second – a commitment to the minute details of its own internal universe.

It’s also a movie about family and what it means to be separated from the ones you love. It’s also about time. And about survival; about what it takes to survive and the lengths we will go to in order to preserve ourselves and our species.

Interstellar is a movie about a lot of things. It is a movie about big ideas.

Interstellar is a movie, like Inception, comprised of entire scenes dedicated to explaining things and/or stuff. This is a very Nolan-esque thing to do and it normally serves to destroy drama. Somehow, in Interstellar, it has the opposite effect. Instead of being bogged down by the internal mechanics of its own fiction, Interstellar’s exposition provides the gravitas required for some of its grander set-piece to have genuinely earth-shattering impacts. The science in Interstellar’s science fiction drives the drama; it raises the stakes expertly.

There are moments in Interstellar that will blow your mind. There are moments that will make every muscle in your body vibrate in terror.

There are moments when you will implicitly feel the weight of the decisions characters have made.

And it's all underpinned by a simple, entirely believable story about family. Interstellar is perhaps the first Nolan movie with heart at its core. Its first act, set on earth, introduces us to a family unlike any Nolan has portrayed on-screen: a believable, an accessible family. A Spielbergian family, burdened and fragile, brought together by a shared struggle. And when Nolan separates that family, the stress is tangible. It is real. You are not watching them from a distance, you are invested.

Which is a good thing, because the entire movie hinges on that investment. Interstellar is able to propel itself, literally, into the farthest reaches of space and keep us involved precisely because the story remains tethered to earth, to home, to the people we love. It’s a great trick and — for the first time perhaps — Nolan pulls it off masterfully.

Interstellar Review: Don't Read This, Just Go See It

Interstellar bears the hallmarks of the best science-fiction: a well realised universe, a healthy believe in its own fiction and — perhaps best of all — a pure imagination. Interstellar is home to a fair few clankers in its dialogue, and at least one flat performance, but it’s difficult to not get swept away in the incredible world/s being created. Interstellar manages to actually inspire sense of wonder I expected to feel in Inception’s dreamscapes, but didn’t. That might be the grandest compliment I can pay it.

No. The grandest compliment I can pay Interstellar is this: it’s a movie that stretches the fabric of its medium, transports us to strange new places, to strange new worlds — but still somehow manages to make us care about a well-crafted inherently human story.

You should go and see Interstellar.


    Stick to Video Games, Mark. Interstellar was a big pile of doggy doodoo. Prometheus levels of bad.


      just... no.

      So this is you basically...?

      "You always say that, i want to take a chance!"

      Just because a reviewer likes a film you hate, doesn't mean they shouldn't review it.

      If you think the review is wrong, then that's cool, but maybe writing what *you* didn't like about the movie would be more helpful.

      So you have seen it? Care to explain the reasoning behind your opinion??

      I've read a few reviews and people are complaining about what Mark is praising. I'll have to see it to make up my own mind but his thoughts on Inception are spot on for me so nothing in this article leads me to believe that our opinions will differ on this movie...

      Nolan has made a few stinkers for his last couple of films though.

      I still don't get why Prometheus is supposed to be that bad. It seemed like an OK film to me. Although I also didn't mind X-Men: the Last Stand and Spiderman 3, so maybe there's just something seriously wrong with me.

      Only Prometheus is Prometheus levels of bad, everything thing else is up from there!

      You're MAD Shhhhcorpio!...

    Inception was a real low point. It was — and I recognize I’m in the minority here – a movie without heart or dramatic momentum. A glorious high concept strangled beneath the weight of its own exposition. It is without doubt, the dullest, least imaginative movie ever made about dreams. A movie where you never really feel the weight of consequence or the glorious weirdness of dreams. In Inception everything of importance is held at an icy distance.

    This is the perfect review of that film, I have this argument all the time.
    Not reading the rest as I want to see Interstellar first, and I practice good movie hygiene.

    I remember feeling the same in The Prestige, the film could have been magnificent, but was fumbled.
    I'm really hoping that Interstellar will be great, haven't loved a Nolan film yet, but always feel like 'maybe this time...'

    Last edited 29/10/14 11:19 am

      People don't need arguments to like films.

      What makes everyone an expert? Does literally everyone here have some sort of degree that actually allows you to unpack storytelling beyond a basic level of judgment? If not, why do people care so much what others enjoy?

    I am a huge Nolan fan and I can;t wait to see this film. In saying that though, I am kind of hesitant because the whole thing seems to hinge on the characters finding new worlds to populate. I find myself wondering how a nearly 3-hour film like this can keep the audience interested when there doesn't seem like that much content beyond space spectacle. But as always, in Nolan I trust...

      I hate long films. Didn't feel the length of this at all.

        Insert mandatory "that's what she said" comment here.

    BUT HOW MANY STARS OUT OF 5? God, you suck at this review thing.

      Stars out of five? What's the matter, can't count to a HUNDRED?

        It's good enough for David and Margaret, it's good enough for me.

    it is without doubt, the dullest, least imaginative movie ever made about dreams

    You lost me right there.

      Really, I thought that was spot-on. There was so little imagination for a movie, set quite literally, in a dreamscape. It had some beautiful scenes, but it was all so straightforward.
      Even something like The Science of Sleep had more imagination when it came to the innerspace landscape.

        The problem I think is that people often associate 'dream sequences' with weirdness, and one of the things i liked about Inception was that it treated dreams more like how you would feel IN the dream, totally serious and real (no matter how strange it may seem AFTER you wake up). This is directly opposed to the cliched tripped out visuals and weird acting (I'm looking at you Sopranos) that we are used to, that is a bit of a cinematic crutch.

      Yeah I think I'm in the minority here, but I really don't like Inception.

        Each to his own I guess, I'll definitely go check out Interstellar though.

        Eh, don't worry. I loved Prometheus so I'm quite familiar with the "Unpopular Opinion" campgrounds. Sometimes it's fun to be the dissenting voice xD

      Totally agree with you Mark - I thought Inception was a completely wasted opportunity. I mean, who actually dreams about bog standard gun fights? I sure as hell don't. I think South Park did a pretty good send up of Inception. I do wanna see Interstellar though

        I actually have quite a few times... Usually me in something I've just sessioned the bejesus out of (looking at you CS:S). Haven't had vivid gunplay dreams in a while though :P

    Nolan's best film is still Memento

      The Prestige was pretty rad.

        And Insomnia! Al Pacino and Robin Williams are fantastic in that film

        Ooh yes, I love the prestige. That ending... Also BOWIIEEEE!!!!

      Agreed. I think its been a bit of a downward slope since then. I like the Prestige and the first two Batman's. Inception and Dark Knight Rises were both dog poop though.

      Last edited 29/10/14 1:16 pm

    No love for Insomnia anyone?

    I thought it was his best, then Memento.

    I've been thinking about it and I think one way to describe Nolan's films is clinical - he directs with an engineer's precision, which is to be admired, but clinical precision can definitely leave audiences feeling a bit cold about the whole thing. Kinda like how it's hard to get excited about a new bridge. It's perfectly functional, it's expertly designed and it's impressively big...but it's still a bridge.

    Now that the film has been released (and many of us have no doubt seen it) I was wondering which of the performances you felt were flat? Not attempting to take a dig at you at all, i am honestly curious.

    Also, what did you think of Zimmer's music? I absolutely loved the scenes where the organ pipes did their thing.


      I thought all the performances were pretty good. Matthew was fantastic. Showed a lot of range. I LOVED the score for the film. You're bang on the money with the organ pipes music. He had that ability to make them sound sinister and also epic.

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