Review of Interstellar


Directed By: Christopher Nolan

Written By:   Jonathan Nolan , Christopher Nolan,

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne HathawayJessica Chastain


There is no question that we live in the era of the blockbuster. Big movies with even bigger explosions full of larger than life characters, and while those films tend to offer a high level of entertainment they rarely if ever challenge audiences to think outside their norm. One of the few directors today that still makes thought provoking high budget films is Christopher Nolan. His latest, Interstellar  may be his most ambitious project yet. It is as if he attempted to take Stanley Kubrick’s infamous 2001: A Space Odyssey  and give it a narrative framework of Stephen Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  If anyone could pull off such a feat it would be Nolan, unfortunately even he is unable to completely tame the massive beast that he created.

It tells the story of a near future where Earth is quickly becoming uninhabitable. Most crops have gone extinct causing  a Dust Bowl of global proportions. With little chance of turning the planet around hope for the future of humanity is found in the stars. A wormhole has opened near the planet of Saturn that might just lead to humankind’s new home.  The questions become who put it there and who is brave enough to make the journey?lead_large

Matthew McConaughey plays Cooper one of the astronauts who has been selected for this nearly impossible mission. After one of the best years any actor could ask for  McConaughey has caused expectations to be raised. Considering that it is difficult not to be disappointed with his final result. He works wonderfully as the emotional father torn between his love for his family and his duty to do his part to save the world. Specifically there is a moment where he witnesses the grave effects of relativity before his very eyes. It was a heartbreaking scene and his reaction will cause you to yearn to comfort him.  When he is asked to play the part of genius level scientist he stumbles. Never does the techno jargon he is spewing out sound convincing. Ultimately the biggest issue with his performance is the fact the film is so plot heavy he is never given a full opportunity to do more than drive the story forward.

Interstellar  develops into an amalgamation of Christopher Nolan’s best qualities as well as some of his very worst. He alongside his brother Jonathan Nolan he wrote a screenplay that evokes wonder but also gets lost in its own intricate design. Small tidbits like a lone Air Force drone finding its way to Earth or the apparent presence of a ghost  in Cooper’s daughter’s room slowly build an intriguing mystery that appears unsolvable, and it is the attempt to solve that mystery that causes the screenplay to lose a great deal of believability.

Nolan is asking Kubrickian questions but giving Spielbergian answers. As mentioned there is a heavy influence from 2001: A Space Odyssey  but while that film was thematically complex it was systemically simple. Giving you moments to both breath and think.  Most importantly when you are approaching such high level questions that analyze the fundamental qualities of humanity’s existence trying to give quantifiable answers leads you to craft a story that is unabashedly convoluted. It’s like giving someone a challenging essay question but allowing them to answer by using multiple choice. There is no room left from ambiguous ideas.


One of Nolan’s best attributes has always been his knack for visual storytelling. Whether it’s flipping a fully loaded semi on the streets of Gotham or having an intense throw down in the middle of a spinning room in Inception, you always have a good chance of seeing something like you have never seen before on-screen. Interstellar  is no different as it brings us a unique vision of what the unknown fabrics of space could look like—a vision that has worlds with waves as tall as mountains and gravity so intense hours on it become a lifetime on Earth. Similar to Gravity  last year there are times where it brings you in to such an extent it makes you feel a part of the experience.  When people ask why bother seeing movies in the theater or why bother with something like IMAX the visual spectacle that is Interstellar  can be your rebuttal to their complaint.

One of the more intriguing concepts was how it incorporated the effects relativity. Almost like a real life version of time travel but instead of a flux capacitor gravity is the key component that makes it possible. Never has the theory be approached in  such a manner in film. Trying to quantify the space-time continuum in a realistic Science Fiction epic is a feat by itself. You could easily devote the entire film to that one idea. The problem it is one small piece in a gigantic puzzle. Every time you get close to putting it together Nolan smashes it into even smaller pieces by adding another layer. With multiple storylines taking place during multiple time periods it is difficult to get invested into anything. The visuals welcome you to be a participant, but the narrative keeps you at arm’s length making you just an observer.

interstellar_a (1)When you have a cast that includes the aforementioned Matthew McConaughey, Ann Hathaway, Michael Caine, Jessica Chastain, and one of the most surprising cameos in recent memory  you would think there would be ample opportunity for some impacting performances. Those opportunities are few and far between as the real focal point here is on Nolan and surprisingly enough composer Hans Zimmer.  On face value Zimmer’s score is much more subdued than his more bombastic work for Nolan in the past. The issue is it so overused it transforms into white noise. At times you need to do your best to ignore it as it drowns out vital dialog.  It was unrelenting to the point of exhaustion.

I have to admit Interstellar  is a challenging film to critique. Not because of the convoluted plot, but rather because its failures are far more compelling than the greatest successes of a movie like Transformers or other high budget franchise films that fill today’s theaters. So what it does well can get ignored in what you wished it did better. Much of the frustration could be caused by Christopher Nolan finally becoming a victim of his own success.  Insurmountable expectations combined with wildly ambitious film making nearly always leads to disappointment. Still, Interstellar  is the A+ student giving C+ execution. A movie that should be seen by all, just know it may not be as great as you want it to be.

Review Overview

Final Rating


Interstellar is full of breathtaking visual and ambitious storytelling that remind you of the power of movies. Still, its ineffective execution and convoluted narrative drown out the important questions it is asking.

User Rating: 4.68 ( 3 votes)
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Dan Clark

A fan of all things comics, movies, books, and whatever else I can find that pass the time. Twitter: @DXO_Dan Instagram: Comic_concierge


  1. You have got to be kidding me with this one. People really need to buckle up for when we (I would assume) do some kind or look back at the films of 2014 when we re-visit our box-office predictions and our most anticipated films because when it comes down to our overall thoughts on the year and our best and worst films there are no doubt going to be fireworks. Hopefully we will still be on speaking terms when it is all said and done :)

    The only thing convoluted that has anything to do with Interstellar is this review my friend. This is easily a bright spot in an otherwise pretty dim year (for me at least up to this point with the 60 movies I have actually seen from the year). It is also EASILY better than Gravity on almost every front. I’m not going to say much more, because I don’t want to react too much in the moment and want to give myself time to try to interpret what exactly you were even trying to say here….to be continued

    1. Well I’m glad you enjoyed it. To me it was ambitious movie with average execution. Nolan has tackled similar ideas a lot better in something like Inception and at least done it in a way that was engaging. Also don’t see how you can say the plot is not convoluted, even people I know who loved it admit it is overbearing with the exposition.

      There just nothing about it that is all that memorable to me. I know there are people that like you loved it, and I know that there are those that hated it. At the end of the day its one I have little emotion towards one way or another. Like I mentioned some of the visuals are unique but by the end everything felt recycled. Even the use of the Dust Bowl documentary footage was an interesting touch but clearly handled a lot better in something like The Wild Blue Yonder by Werner Herzog.

      Compared to the rest of the year it maybe makes my Top 50. Again like I mentioned to you prior I feel 2014 has been a very good year so far. Maybe not with bigger movies but a strong year for indies. Starred Up, Calvary, Frank, The Rover, Night Moves, Under the Skin (I know you hate it), Blue Ruin, Boyhood, Borgman, Grand Budapest Hotel, The Double, Enemy, Nightcrawler, Hide Your Smiling Faces, Snowpierecer, Ida, The Immigrant, Obvious Child, Only Lovers Left Alive, Nymphomaniac: Vol. I , We are the Best!, The Raid 2, The Congress, and Tracks are all rather solid. I wouldn’t give them all 5 stars by any means but I got more out of them than I did Interstellar. Plus I haven’t even got to see Whiplash or Birdman yet which I hope to fix shortly.

      Other movies like The Machine, Young Ones or Automata I wouldn’t call
      better than Interstellar but I was more impressed with what they
      accomplished with less.

      I don’t think at this point this year is as good as last year. Last year had more ‘great movies’ but this year has a good quantity of good movies. Still I’d be happy with my Top 10 if I didn’t see another movie this year, and really happy with my Top 5.

      I mean I’m glad you enjoyed it. I wished I enjoyed it more. I stand by my critiques and believe they are valid. If you don’t agree its all good. At the end of the day its a movie people should see, but still one of the more disappointing movies in years for me.

      1. I guess I’m just looking for a more specific critique. Just throwing words like convoluted without actually giving examples just makes it hard for me to actually follow the logic behind the critique. I have no problem with you not liking it. You tend to like a specific type of movie, as do most people myself included, so I’m not surprised or faulting you for not liking it. I just want to be able to follow your thought process. Instead with this one (which is rare for you in your reviews) I felt like you are just throwing out broad generalizations or grandiose terms but not giving the exact points, details or examples to allow one to follow it up.

        I love indie movies and under the radar films but this year I was purposefully trying to watch as many ‘mainstream’ or big budget films as possible so I could intentionally make some comments towards the movie scene in general AND as my family looks to me for opinions on the main films they are able to see in the theatre so I was most equipped to speak to them on. It was kind of an experiment of a year for me so sadly the only films you mentioned in that ENTIRE comment that I have actually seen are Snowpiercer, Grand Budapest and unfortunately and regretfully Under the Skin (I just pray that it’s still not your number 1 film when all is said and done like it was at the half way point ;) ) –

        I still will attempt to watch as many of those films as you mentioned as possible but with still having to dedicate time to watch Dumb and Dumber To, Foxcatcher, Mockingjay, Exodus, Hobbit, American Sniper, Big Eyes, Into the Woods, and the Interview that may be easier said than done.

        I also am very glad you have a solid top 5 and even top 10 – I am far from that. Whereas most years about now I am having debates as to which films to drop from the Top Ten, this year at first glance I don’t even have a Top 3 that I would have any pride in. Hopefully this final two months can save that for me. We shall see.

        As a last note, I actually prefer Interstellar to Inception. I disagree that it was not engaging, that the performances were lacking or that it was void of memorable moments, and that’s coming from someone who was anticipating it much less than you were.

        1. Well I don’t know how much more specific I could be without
          spoiling the movie. And for you to claim that I’m just throwing out grandiose words with nothing to back it up well I got to say I strongly disagree. If it’s not good enough for you I’m sorry, but I’m not going to spoil the movie just to underline a point. I haven’t really heard many rebuttals to my complains besides, “You’re wrong” so I’ll try to specify.

          As I explained in review when you have a movie that is approaching such big ideas, (ideas which it tells you about on as many occasions as it could) and then you try to answers grand questions you are asking a lot to begin with. The third act reveal about who the ghost was I thought was rather unbelievable and hooky. Also as explained in the review besides all those fundamental questions about life you are trying to answer you are also providing multiple storylines during multiple time periods. When you compared how these times jumps are handled to something like Inception there is so much less fluidity between them. Nolan’s direction was surprisingly bland considering the subject matter. His camera lacked any personality, and had a hard time ever building tension minus the docking sequence. Looking at something like the fist fight on the ice planet I was shocked at how badly that was shot, and how it so heavily relied on the score to add any time of emotion to that moment.

          It’s convoluted in the sense where every word spoken after the
          first twenty minutes or so does nothing but explain what is happening or fill in the gaps to drive the story forward. As
          mentioned in the review Nolan keeps adding small twists here and there like how plan A was never designed to work or Matt Damon’s character development that I never saw added anything but more complications. You have Casey Affleck’s character and his family issues that are touched upon just cause basically. He is characters motivations in those scenes is really odd to me. I don’t understand his sudden shift in not wanting to see his family leave the farm. Similar to Matt Damon’s shift it came off as an excuse to build tension and not much more.

          So again let’s recap here. As mentioned in the review the story is full of gigantic questions that are answered (poorly in my opinion) and to get those answers you have to tackle some interesting ideas like the theory relativity to open the door for multiple stories during multiple time periods that are never meshed together very well. Add in some plot twists for plot twist sake just so you can find some tension that was has been lacking for the last 45 minutes or so. Perhaps I could be more specific in a review but to claim I’m just throwing words out there and not giving any evidence I find questionable.

          That’s an interesting experiment and I hope for the best for
          it. My goal is just to watch good movies lol. And honestly a lot of those movies I mentioned are easily available via On-Demand, and personally I’d rather steer someone towards something like Starred Up that they could even watch at home than tell them to avoid the new Turtles movie because it’s a piece of garbage. But again those movies may not appeal to mainstream but at this point I don’t really care about mainstream at all. Because the majority of mainstream movies are disposable and quickly forgotten.

          Regarding how Interstellar is better than Inception. On a basic editing standpoint they don’t even compare. Inception handles its exposition in a much more engaging way and Interstellar gives it to you on a chalk board or piece of paper. Mostly I was just shock at how unoriginal it was. You say you liked the performances but I can’t think of many moments when I
          got to experience those performances. I would also like to know what moments stick out to you, what scenes people who go back to like they do for other Nolan movies. Right now this might be at the bottom of Nolan’s filmography for me. Maybe just ahead of Following and Insomnia.

          It reminds me a lot of A.I. where there are interesting elements I like but the sentimentality and ambitious ideas never mesh. I know this project was originally designed for Spielberg and you can kind of tell. There’s a bioploar sense to it. at one moment it is cold an unemotional another its trying to be heartfelt.

          1. I guess I don’t see it as multiple storylines on multiple timelines. To me there is really just the two timelines being explored and only the one storyline. I can understand a lot of people being turned off by the third act of the film. Curious, did you like the first two acts overall and was it just the third act that made you dislike it or did you dislike the whole thing equally. I could have seen them ending it after the first two acts and I would have been satisfied and I think it would not be getting the same bad press (although overall critically its doing pretty decent). However, the third act didn’t bother me as much as I thought it might.

            Funny how you bring up A.I., the guys over at InSession also brought up A.I. but had only glowing things to say about that film! I also can never quite tell what your intentions are whenever you bring up Spielberg, it almost seems like you bring him up in a negative light or saying something bad about him as a director. I could be wrong here though – If you are simply saying it was more made for him and he would have done a better job with it possibly, then that I agree with and understand.

            The performances I found very appealing and interesting for me were Chastain, Matthew Mc, Michael Caine and that of the artificial intelligence characters. I guess what you felt were complications I felt were realistic events. And I still don’t get the convoluted point you are trying to make but maybe I am off with what I believe that word means…and ‘how unoriginal’ it was?? Even the people bashing this film give it credit for how original and unique some of the things it delves into are regardless of the 2001 comparisons…ugh

            Also, My goal is not to watch bad movies lol. I still am setting out to watch movies I think I may enjoy. Many of the movies you bring up are not available on redbox, netflix and didn’t come to theatres around me. Perhaps ondemand is cheaper out in your neck of the woods then here. I can’t afford to watch much more than one ondemand flick a month or so or my bill would be ridiculous. I get it that many mainstream movies are forgettable but it sounds as if you are deducting points from films simply because they are mainstream, I hope that’s not the case. And the point wasn’t for me to steer anyone in any direction, i try to avoid steering people towards anything in any area of life. I was more talking to when they come and ask me if a certain film is worth watching or not, or to help them choose between two films where they are the ones leading the feedback I give.

          2. Okay maybe convoluted is not the best word to use, perhaps a better one would be contrived. A good comparison would be something like Lost. A show that was excellent at creating mystery awful at answering it. Same thing for Interstellar.
            The way it answered its mystery, how he found the NASA base, the creation of the worm whole, and who the ghost was were all contrivances I couldn’t buy, or more so just were not very interesting to me. It felt like they wrote themselves into a corner and didn’t know how to get out of it. Some ambiguity would have gone a long way, and I was surprised how unwilling the movie was to leave any question unanswered. I did enjoy the first two acts more than the last. If I were to rate it just on those it may go up a half star or two.

            I mention AI because I feel it and Interstellar have similar tonal issues. First I love Spielberg as a director. How could you not? Jurassic Park is in my Top 5 of all-time favorite movies, and I credit it as the movie that made me fall in love with the theater. However, as a film make he makes movies for the masses. Those that have a strong emotional core that people can hold onto, and tend to be more straightforward. Compare that to Kubrick who has movies that are at times devoid of emotion and tend to lead to the abstract. Kubrick tends to resent the audience while Spielberg is always trying to appeal to them. I don’t think one way is better than the other they are just two different ways of making a film.

            Now with AI it started as a Kubrick movie, and after his death went to Spielberg who added in his normal sentimentality, which really didn’t fit in most places. It gave it a bipolar tone that was never able to settle. I know some people love it, but for me as a whole it doesn’t work.

            Now with Interstellar you have the opposite. A movie that started as a Spielberg project and then went to Nolan. And Nolan tends to lead more towards the Kubrick side than Spielberg. The emotional beats to start I thought were fine, but once they left Earth they always felt forced. Like Nolan wanted to focus more on the science but the story kept popping in with the emotional
            beats. Something like the speech Ann Hathaway’s character gives about love just did not work for me. It didn’t appear Nolan could get a grasp on how to present the sentimentality in an authentic way.

            I hear this claim about originality, and yes some of the visuals are unique like I mentioned in my review, but overall I’m not seeing it. I hear the claims about it being a revolutionary feat of Science Fiction and all I see are bits and pieces that I’ve seen before. Everything from Solaris to Contact to Close Encounters to the aforementioned 2001. I understand production wise Nolan had some interesting ways of placing the actors physical locations rather than green screens but it didn’t seem to add much of anything. I guess I’d like to know what is original about it?

            Not that you have to be original to be good or great. Just if people are going to make that claim I’d like to know more about where it’s coming from. I understand why some would love everything about this movie and call it one of the best of the year. Cause I realize some of my issues may not bother others. But the originality claim has me shaking my head. To use one of your favorite words, the amount of originality is overrated. Lol.

            I remember you saying you had an issue with the unrealistic
            way some of the characters acted in Gone Girl, and I had a similar problem here. Mostly with Matt Damon and Casey Affleck. For one you could just get rid of Casey Affleck because he added nothing, but again another contrivance in the third act was getting him to refusing to allow his kids get medical attention just to try to build tension. That’s a rather nitpick I grant you but Matt Damon’s character was far worse. Sure you could probably find some way to justify it, but it just felt cheap to me. Although I have to admit it did lead to the best part of the movie for me, and was the highest point of my engagement with the movie so maybe I like it more than I even realize.

            I guess I misunderstood what you were saying. I thought you
            were saying you were going to a movie not because you wanted to but because you wanted to go through a year of movies as if you were just an average movie goer going to whatever was popular. Which I thought was rather brave. So I was saying I’d rather avoid a movie like Transformers 4 and spend that money on something like Starred Up on demand.

            Yea On-Demand can get expensive if you buy it through your
            cable provider. I tend to go through iTunes or mostly Amazon. They range in price from like 2.99 to 7.99. Which for where I am even at $8 is like half the price of a movie ticket, ¼ if I’m paying for two people. But if you options are just wants in your local theater and what Comcast provides I could see why 2014 would not be a great year for you so far.

            Also there are some good 2014 movies that are on Netflix.
            Blue Ruin, which I’m sure you’ll hate if this year’s trend continues lol, was on Netflix last time I checked.

            Also Obvious Child, The Rover, Only Lovers Left Alive, Locke, Railway Man, The Raid 2, and Enemy are all at Redbox I believe. Not sure how many of those you’d like. I doubt you’d enjoy Only Lovers Left Alive, personally I didn’t love it was much as most, I can take or leave Jim Jarmusch—which I know is sacrilegious to some people.

            With your love of history I could see Railway Man appealing to you. It’s about a man who was a POW in China during WWII. Locke is a safe bet, maybe never know any more. Its basically just Tom Hardy being an awesome actor for like 80 minutes. The Rover could intrigue you as well. It like takes place in a more realistic version of the Mad Max universe. I don’t think any of those besides maybe Locke has a shot of cracking
            my Top 20 but I think you’d be happier spending a $1 on those than seeing that awful Hercules movie. (The first one with the dude from Twilight which I saw on HBO and it made me question the existence of movies)

            And no I wouldn’t take off points for a movie just because
            it’s mainstream or give a movie points just because it’s Indie. Though I’m more impressed with a movie that does more with little than with something that has a trillion dollar budget and gives you more of the same. Like the special effects of Snowpierecer may not be as technologically advanced as Transformers but I’m impressed with their originality and creativity. Right now there are maybe 3 or 4 mainstream movies at this point that have chance of making my top 20. Cap 2, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and Lego have the strongest chance. It’s a heavy indie year which is odd to me. Last year was a good mix.

            It may change in the final few months. American Sniper, Imitation Game, Unbroken, and Foxcather look like they have strong potential. But if we ever do those decade lists I’m thinking 2014 would be the least represented out of 2010-2014 at least so far. Which I think is more do to how strong the last few years have been especially 2013.

          3. Man I wish I had the time to respond to this as much as I would like. In the meantime I will say a few things…100% agree with your comments on the speech from Hathaway. That was by far my least favorite moment of the film and I thought it was absolute terrible writing and dialogue. I also agree that Casey Affleck’s character was pointless and his decisions made no sense outside of being a symbol for commentary Nolan was trying to make. I will comment more later. I agree with much of what you are saying in this last post actually though. I’ve been trying to do use redbox as much as possible, 90% of the movies I saw from this year that weren’t in the theatre are via redbox and the other 10% ondemand. I’ll have to check out the prices via amazon/itunes though – Usually ondemand here costs me like $7.99 a pop where as a theatre ticket is only $5.00 most of the time I go and $10 some of the times I go. Redbox obviously is the cheapest route :)

          4. Damn out of all of these (and I just did an exhaustive look on netflix, redbox and ondemand – the only ones available to me are Frank, The Rover, Blue Ruin, Nympho and The Congress unless I’m just not seeing the others :(

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