By now, I think people understand I'm a Nolan die-hard. I will admit, I joined late to the party, only really paying attention after watching Batman Begins, and not really delving into his entire library of "white men with issues that no other man would experience" kind of films until Inception hit theatres. In a way, Christopher Nolan is the white knight to M. Night Shayamalan's Dark Knight, in the sense that his public opinion grew as to reach his arguably his own genre (and thanks to Inception, pretty much influence every blockbuster soundtrack), while Shayamlan flounders after his Sixth Sense success to great films like After Earth.
So now, as every 2 years (on average) between his films come, it is now Interstellar. From the get go, it has every recipe ingredient to be great. Nominated director, Oscar winners, the script written by the Nolans, etc. It's not that Interstellar doesn't take off, it just doesn't quite hit the expectation mark (once again I guess after The Dark Knight Rises, but who really could follow and wanted to follow The Dark Knight with something better? ). But that doesn't mean it's bad, it still is one of my favourite films of the year, but it, kind of like ranking Pixar movies, might be in the bottom half.
My issue with the film is the first 30-minute setup. It's as if Nolan lost control of this section to Paramount, where they basically said "let's cram every issue possible from a dystopia into this film" from famine, dust storms, technology takeover, lack of technology (yeah... that was weird). I wouldn't have minded if they just only settled on the food famine, the dust I get is for visual flare and probably an afterthought, but I wish it was a bit more streamlined. The technology thing was weird since it felt like they were banning it, only to be still using drones and stuff...but not MRI machines? Ok?
As much as Casey Affleck and John Lithgow gave good performances, I would have cut them too. Mainly since Murph is the main arc between her and Cooper. I mean she would have been orphaned, but I guess this is another thing that isn't so much a complaint but a weird feeling. There are a lot of A-list actors here given barely enough time to do things. Another, Topher Grace, doing the good ol'Eddie Brock when he was a nice guy routine is here with Jessica Chastain (I guess fake Bryce Dallas Howard), but he just seemed underutilized beyond saying "Murph. Let's go." I wish he had more to do, or at least hired less known and distracting actors to the role.
The only exception to this rule is probably the inclusion of Dr Mann, (SPOILERS: Matt Damon). Geez, this was hands down the best cameo or short performance of the year. It's nothing like we got out of Damon in Elysium, and it was just hilarious at times.
The rest of the acting I wouldn't say is phenomenal. McConaughey and Caine are sometimes hard to understand (I believe that is really the only sound issue of the film. The roaring feeling is great, giving almost a feeling of ignition but I'll get to sound in a bit). I mean the kid actors did a fine job emulating Chastain and Affleck, but I feel what works better is the relationships that the actors have on screen. It's much more powerful than the "Mal is a psychopath who grew old" kind of feeling to it in Inception, or the 5000th Batman's parents died feeling.
Another thing I'm glad about is the soundtrack wasn't the "Hanz Zimmer brrrrrrrrrrrrrrraaaaaaaa" score. It delicately plays upon strings and piano and silence that just feels great in it's own combination.
Then come the visuals. Don't cheat yourself to see this in regular 2D. Save your money and don't watch those dumb Marvel films and spend the money on something worthwhile like this, true film projection in 70mm. There is such a stark difference that makes film have such a great contract to the IMAX sections, it works much better than it did in The Dark Knight Rises (although it does still do the aspect ratio swap a bit too much for my liking. I wish it was shot all in 70mm, but it's hard since the cameras are so heavy). It's just a shame theatres are moving on from real film because it does add that old school flare to a sci-fi film.
In a weird way, Interstellar is probably Nolan's most constrained and freed movie. I wish the beginning was tighter, and more time was spent on the story than making sure all the science checks out (well I think all movies should be stamped with Neil DeGrasse Tyson). I normally comment on how films copy films, and this one is no exception. There are many visuals similar to 2001: A Space Odyssey (Eh. TARS was awesome), Contact and Gravity, that a year later might be fatigue, but I feel to me, I love space movies. I wish there were more like the 90s. It's a shame they don't do them anymore. Then it basically copies something from every past Nolan film (Insomnia's faking the data, Batman Begins' Ice battle and rebuilding society themes, Inception's trippy visuals, TDKR's theme of hope, etc.). I wish it was a bit more original, but I do feel it's a movie to see more than once, just to catch everything.