On an acting level Interstellar is great. Matthew McConaughey continues his brilliant streak as Cooper. He's got this relatable, down to earth vibe that really fits the character, he works really well with the rest of the cast, in particular Anne Hathaway and Mackenzie Foy, he really sells the technobabble scenes and a lot of the most powerful, emotional moments of the film come through his performance. A highlight being halfway through the film where he has no dialogue and sells every single emotion Cooper is feeling. Anne Hathaway also does a good job as Brand, showing how out of her depth the character is and presenting the main motif of the film really well. Wes Bentley and David Gyasi also do great work as the other astronaughts, showing really developed characters, despite having less screen time. Out of all the characters on the mission, my favourite is TARS, the robotic member of the crew, voiced by Bill Irwin. The animation for TARS is brilliant, using every possibility for the design and Irwin's voice and the writing give TARS a lot of character, with TARS having a lot of the best lines in the film. There's also great work done in smaller roles by John Lithgow and Michael Caine, both showing how the older generation is dealing with the world dying around them, although talking any more about Caine will spoil the film. I also really enjoyed Mackenzie Foy as Murph, she shows how intelligent and inquisitive the character is early on in the film and she nails the scene when Murph has to say goodbye to Cooper, creating another one of the best emotional moments of the film. Jessica Chastain is also great, although I won't say any more about her since it will spoil the film. If there are weak links in the cast it's Casey Affleck and Topher Grace. Grace doesn't really get to do much in the film and it feels like anyone else could have played his character. Affleck meanwhile has a completely inconsistent character whose actions vary from scene to scene, with them not feeling natural, only serving the needs of the story, meaning that he doesn't really have a character, more of a plot device.
The technical aspects of the film are what make it an experience. I saw this film a week ago on digital projection but I decided to wait before I did this review until I saw it in 70mm IMAX, and that is definitely the way to go. Whilst digital projection is excellent, and I don't think the film will lose anything when it's released on DVD (which is a problem that befell Gravity), 70mm has this distinct quality that makes the visual experience of the film incredible. It's the best visual quality of the film. The quality of the visuals is aided by incredible special effects, with a few elements of these being very reminiscent of 2001, the typically brilliant direction by Nolan and incredibly cinematography by Hoyte van Hoytema, who I think is a better DP for Nolan than Wally Pfister (a statement which is sure to get me killed by other Nolan fans), as good as Pfister is, I don't think he'd have done as good a job in regards to the space scenes as Hoytema. The music meanwhile, whilst being a bit overwhelming at times, really fits the tone of the film, with the heavy use of the organ in particular helping to show the grand scale of the film. Special mention for effects has to go to the wormhole near Saturn, with many shots of it worthy of being in an art gallery they're so beautiful, and the black holes in the other universe. In fact, the effects for the black hole were so good, partly due to equations about the behaviour of light in a black hole being put into the effects software, that academic papers are being written about black holes based on the effects.
Overall, whilst I don't think it's Nolan's best film, I still think Interstellar is an incredible film. There are a lot of really interesting ideas brought up, the emotional scenes work really well, the acting is excellent and it's directed and shot beautifully. I think Brad Jones (The Cinema Snob) said it best in his review: there are two types of people who watch Interstellar, those who see the faults with the film and let them build up, ruining the film for them, and those who will be given a list of 101 things wrong with the film and still enjoy it, letting the emotional nature of the film carry them towards some incredible moments. If you haven't already guessed, I'm firmly in the latter camp, I think this is one of the best sci-fi films to have been released recently.
My Rating: 5/5