Friday, December 26, 2014

REVIEW: Interstellar: The IMAX Experience


Matthew McCounaughey,
Anne Hathaway


November 5, 2014
(70mm IMAX)

Christopher Nolan

Paramount Pictures,
Warner Bros. Pictures

2 hours 45 minutes



Last year, director Alfonso Cuaron took audiences into space with the 3D technical achievement "Gravity."  This year, "Inception" director Christopher Nolan has not only taken us into space in his new film "Interstellar," but into wormholes, distant galaxies, and different planets as well.  Along for the ride with the audience is Matthew McConaughey's Cooper, a farmer who has volunteered to travel into the vast abyss of space to find a new planet for the humans to live on in order to keep the human species alive.  For those who don't know, Nolan shot about an hour of this 165 minute movie with IMAX cameras, meaning that it would fill up the entire IMAX screen should people choose to see it in that format.  I personally waited over a month so I could have my first viewing of this film be on a 5 story high IMAX dome showing the film in 70mm IMAX film, the most ideal quality out there to see the film in.  Having seen a lot of movies this year, I will happily say that my experience with "Interstellar" is one of the more memorable ones I've had this year.  Not to mention, this is one of the best films of the year, period.

The first thing that I need to talk about is how original and intelligent the concept and the script are.  I've seen people complain about the script being poorly written and not making much sense, but that didn't apply to me here.  Aside from a couple of moments, I pretty much understood everything that was going on here.  This film wasn't meant to be a mind-bender ala "Inception," rather it was simply trying to capture the struggle that a group of humans face when they are given the task to save the human race.  And to think that it plays with your expectations and manages to play with your emotions at the same time is also something pretty rare and cool to find in a big Hollywood film like this.  So for that, I give props to both Christopher and Jonathan Nolan for thinking outside the box and, for the most part, writing an original, intelligent, and even realistic space thriller.

Christopher Nolan's direction has never been stronger, in my personal opinion.  From the intense and spectacular scenes taking place on different planets and within some mind-blowing visual effects to the intimate and emotional scenes both on Earth and within the confines of a spaceship, Nolan knows how to bring the best performances out of his actors and tell a story that is well-told and really fascinating.  I loved Nolan's use of IMAX footage here, as seeing this on a 5-story high, 70 feet wide dome really added to my experience personally.  There are some sequences shot with IMAX cameras, done by cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, that honestly made my jaw drop in amazement.  Even if you don't like the film as a whole, it's hard to deny how amazing the film looks with its visuals.  In fact, another impressive thing done in this film is that there are a decent amount of effects done practically, with only the necessary effects done digitally.  The visuals in this movie were like that extra icing on the cake to the impressive narrative and great acting present thanks to Nolan's direction.

I am one of those people who thinks that Matthew McConaughey didn't deserve his Oscar win for "Dallas Buyers Club" earlier in the year.  In fact, I believe that Leonardo DiCaprio should have won for "The Wolf of Wall Street."  Having said that, I'm pretty surprised that McConaughey isn't in the talks for a Best Actor nomination at the 2015 Academy Awards.  Now to be fair, the Best Actor race is extremely crowded as it is, but McConaughey really packs a punch with some of his scenes, particularly one involving a video his daughter sends him during his space journey.  If the race wasn't as packed as it was, I would honestly be rooting for him to get a nomination for his performance here.  Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain are also great here, but again, the acting races are really crowded this year, so sadly it doesn't seem like they'll be in the talks for nominations.  These three, to me, delivered the best performances of the film, and in turn have given three of the most overlooked performances of 2014.

So as you might have seen already, "Interstellar" is not a movie that everyone will enjoy.  People have complained about its run time, the script, and other things of that sort.  Me personally, I have absolutely nothing to complain about.  As a film experience, this is a jaw-droppingly unbelievable achievement in cinema.  It's one of those movies that needs to be seen on the largest screen available in order to have the best experience possible.  Even if you're not able to see this on the big screen, I still feel that the performances, visuals, and emotional punch are enough to enjoy the film as a whole.  This is one of those movies that just reminds me on how amazing, original, and ambitious movies can be if directors and writers chose to do things outside of sequels, reboots, and adaptations all of the time.  I'm not saying that those types of films are bad, as some of my favorite movies this year have been sequels and adaptations, but sometimes it's nice to have an original concept unfold itself for the first time on screen.  "Interstellar" is an ambitious, emotional, visually outstanding, and overall amazing movie that I highly recommend checking out before the year is up.

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