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First Reviews for Christopher Nolan’s ‘Interstellar’ Arrive

Written by on October 27, 2014 

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After numerous industry screenings in which reactions were encouraged, Paramount has finally let the floodgates open for full reviews of Christopher Nolan‘s ninth feature film. While our take will be coming a little later, we’ve rounded up the initial batch of impressions for the Matthew McConaughey-led space adventure Interstellar.

Judging from these reviews, the reaction is mostly positive but divisive, with many praising the ambitious nature of the visuals and technical execution. However, the emotional core of the story seems to work for some but for others, not in the least. Arriving a week from tomorrow (for those near 35mm and 70mm-capable theaters), check out the reviews below (as well as new images) and return here when our take goes up.

David Ehrlich at Little White Lies:

Interstellar is by far the best and most comprehensively satisfying big-budget spectacle of the year… and that’s a serious problem. The cosmic margin by which Christopher Nolan’s latest film eclipses its competition forces it to double as an unsettling reminder of how unimpressive such a feat has become. Nolan has made a career of exposing the poverty of our current blockbuster cinema, and not since Inception has a film of this size evinced a narrative ambition on par with that of its scale (with the possible exception of independently financed bomb, Cloud Atlas), but it was never going to be any other way.

Dave Calhoun at Time Out London:

Christopher Nolan’s overwhelming, immersive and time-bending space epic ‘Interstellar’ makes Alfonso Cuarón’s ‘Gravity’ feel like a palate cleanser for the big meal to come. Where ‘Gravity’ was brief, contained and left the further bounds of the universe to our imagination, ‘Interstellar’ is long, grand, strange and demanding – not least because it allows time to slip away from under our feet while running brain-aching ideas before our eyes. It’s a bold, beautiful cosmic adventure story with a touch of the surreal and the dreamlike, and yet it always feels grounded in its own deadly serious reality.

Devin Faraci at Badass Digest:

There are so many frustrating flaws in this enormously cerebral, wonderfully hopeful and massively ambitious movie. If good intentions were enough to make a movie a masterpiece, Interstellar would be the greatest work of Nolan’s career. That said, even with its many flaws, Interstellar is an often gorgeous, expertly put-together movie that demands to be seen on the biggest possible screen. And while many parts of Interstellar don’t work, the whole hangs together enough to be a movie that impresses with hard sci-fi nerdiness. If only that were enough to make it the great film we hoped for.

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Alex Billington at First Showing:

There used to be a time when we would look up at the stars and dream. We would wonder what it was like out there, what we might find out amongst the endless black of space. But then things changed, we became obsessed with ourselves again, with battling each other for money and power, and we forgot how to dream. Along comes Interstellar, an exhilarating science fiction creation that once again reminds us that we can dream, that we get to breathe this fresh air on this beautiful planet, that we get to smile, cry and laugh. And it’s those feelings that matter the most. It reminds us that the desire to connect is one of the most important aspects of humanity and that nothing–whether it be time or space or others–can break those bonds of love.

Mike Ryan at Screen Crush:

‘Interstellar’ is a good movie that so desperately wants to be important. That sentence is going to read as churlish, but I do admire ‘Interstellar’ for at least attempting to be something that’s not dumb. There are already too many dumb things we are subjected to on a daily basis. And ‘Interstellar’ is ambitious, even though there are a lot of head-scratching scenes. Yet, there we still are, spinning out of control with the reality that Nolan has created – and it’s only when we stop spinning, when we look at it from afar, that we kind of realize how absurd it all was … even though it leaves us craving a little more.

Tim Grierson at ScreenDaily:

An emotional powerhouse when it isn’t hokey – and a stunning spectacle when it doesn’t get bogged down in plot logistics – Interstellar is the clearest example yet of filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s desire to wow us with ambitious big-budget projects that balance cutting-edge effects and bold dramatic crescendos.

Matt Patches at Vanity Fair:

“Another space drama?!” Yes, another space drama — but Nolan’s film is on the other end of the universe from Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity. The latter was an amusement park ride tinged with philosophy, a relative ditty. Interstellar is the full orchestra performing a symphony. The film is a travelogue following Cooper (McConaughey), an ex-test pilot who leaves behind his family to venture into a recently discovered wormhole. The mission: Find a hospitable planet. In Interstellar’s near future, Earth has given humanity the shrug emoticon. Extinction is on the horizon. The solution is an epic journey into the unknown. Sandra Bullock averting zero G crisis has its own splendor. Interstellar chews off more, for better and worse. (For an esoteric point-of-comparison, see Andrei Tarkovsky’s Russian drama Stalker.)

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Scott Foundas at Variety:

To infinity and beyond goes “Interstellar,” an exhilarating slalom through the wormholes of Christopher Nolan’s vast imagination that is at once a science-geek fever dream and a formidable consideration of what makes us human. As visually and conceptually audacious as anything Nolan has yet done, the director’s ninth feature also proves more emotionally accessible than his coolly cerebral thrillers and Batman movies, touching on such eternal themes as the sacrifices parents make for their children (and vice versa) and the world we will leave for the next generation to inherit. An enormous undertaking that, like all the director’s best work, manages to feel handcrafted and intensely personal, “Interstellar” reaffirms Nolan as the premier big-canvas storyteller of his generation, more than earning its place alongside “The Wizard of Oz,” “2001,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “Gravity” in the canon of Hollywood’s visionary sci-fi head trips. Global box office returns should prove suitably rocket-powered.

Edward Douglas at Coming Soon:

“Interstellar” is another one of Christopher Nolan’s more personal mind-f*ck movies which he’s done so well when not directing adventures of a certain cowled vigilante. While it may not be as immediate as “Inception” and it wears most of its most obvious influences on its sleeve, it’s still very much the type of intelligent spin on a specific genre we’ve come to expect from the filmmaker.

Don Kaye at Den of Geek:

“Haunting” is the word that keeps lingering as I reflect on Christopher Nolan’s new movie, Interstellar, over and over again in my mind. There is a somber tone to the film, an elegiac mood that is one of its most powerful assets. We feel the shroud of despair and apathy surrounding the people of Earth as it becomes clear that the planet is essentially turning against us, and we also experience the intense loneliness and isolation of the small crew of astronauts who travel an unimaginable distance on a last-chance mission to save the human race from extinction.

Josh Dzieza at The Verge:

From the opening scenes of sprawling cornfields accompanied by a revelrie-like brass note, it’s clear that Interstellar is working in the tradition of 2001: A Space Odyssey. It has the grand scope of Kubrick’s classic, promising to take us from humanity’s past to its distant future, and proceeds with the same stately pace that encourages you to ponder the themes it offers along the way. It throws out plenty to think about — the nature of time and space, the place of humanity in the universe — but somewhat unexpectedly for this type of film, and for Christopher Nolan, whose work tends toward the cerebral, it explores these ideas in human terms. Interstellar is as interested in how general relativity would affect your family life, for example, as it is in the theory itself.

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James Dyer at Empire:

Brainy, barmy and beautiful to behold, this is Stephen Hawking’s Star Trek: a mind-bending opera of space and time with a soul wrapped up in all the science.

Tim Robey at The Telegraph:

Christopher Nolan is a merchant of awe, which is not to say he’s always selling it at the right price, or that customer satisfaction is guaranteed 100 per cent of the time. Even by his standards, Interstellar is a wild leap of faith: an epic of science fiction which puts equal stress on both words.

Geoffrey McNab at Independent:

Interstellar is the astounding new $160 million sci-fi epic from Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan. Made under the supervision of leading theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, the film (bound to be a front runner in this year’s Oscar race) launches a twin pronged attack on our emotions and on our intellects. It combines abstruse ideas about gravity, matter and time with old fashioned, hyper-charged family melodrama.

Drew McWeeny at HitFix:

I was moved by “Interstellar,” and there are stretches where it is as good and as pure as anything Nolan’s made. You can feel just how important all of it is to him in every frame of the thing. I don’t love all of the film’s dramatic choices, though. It’s a film I look forward to revisiting, and considering just how much my own son loves space and space travel already, I’ll definitely be taking him to see it. The best the film can hope for is that it will remind young viewers that there is something else besides this planet, and there is so much of this universe that we don’t remotely understand, and if there’s any hope for us, it is by looking up. Nolan’s fervent belief in that message alone makes this something worth seeing, and if it can inspire a new generation of dreamers, then even better.

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Henry Barnes at The Guardian:

The moon and the planets are there, likewise new hopes for knowledge and peace. JFK would doubtless approve of Christopher Nolan’s grand space opera, Interstellar – well, the subject matter, at least. Strident, overbearing, tangled up in plot-lines and bunged with theory, the director’s first film post-Batman rockets its way to entertainment through Nolan’s dogged force of will.

James Rocchi at The Playlist:

After all the jaw-dropping cinematography and carefully-buffed CGI, in fact, “Interstellar” winds up fitting into a fairly narrow and deeply tired sub-genre alongside films like “Frequency,” “Contact,” and even “Field of Dreams”: Dad Issues from Dimension X. It’s impossible to not admire the technical achievements of “Interstellar,” but as Michael Bay and so much more modern moviegoing has proved, rapturous visuals can’t make up for a ruptured script. Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” spends hundreds of millions to take the audience on a journey to the farthest parts of the cosmos … so they can be told sentiments as close, and as cheap, as any of the offerings at your local Hallmark card retailer.

Roth Cornet at IGN:

Interstellar is an imperfect film, but like its central characters, aims about as high as one can. The ambition, execution, and craftsmanship are all to be admired. As the filmmaker intended, this is an experience that one can only truly have in the theatre itself and it is one worth having. Though, as mentioned, Interstellar also has the potential to become a highly divisive film. Ultimately, the viewers takeaway will likely come down to their emotional response.

Eric Kohn at Indiewire:

That Nolan can do so much with such a grand canvas and studio money shows the extent to which he has managed to carve out a niche in the industry. Brainy and exciting at the same time, “Interstellar” invalidates the need for mindless Hollywood product. No matter its shortcomings, the movie achieves an impressive balancing act. It turns the mysteries of the universe into a cinematic playground, but for every profound or visually arresting moment, it also encourages you to to think.

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William Bibbiani at Crave Online:

Interstellar would be a stunning piece of cinema if you weren’t supposed to think about it, but Nolan’s film challenges his audience with too many relevant social concepts, doomsday scenarios and impossible moral choices to prevent them from turning off their brains. And since your brains are already working, you might as well question all the gaps in rudimentary storytelling that derail this otherwise ambitious and beautifully produced popcorn movie, which only falls flat because it seems to be vying for the role of “best movie ever made.” Interstellar forces you to be too smart to enjoy Interstellar. I don’t think very many movies have had that problem before.

Jordan Hoffman at Popular Mechanics:

With this film, the overused buzzword “epic” is wholly earned. Everything about this two-and-a-half-hour picture is big. In fact, even the title undersells it. Our ultimate destination is intergalactic, and ultimately inter-dimensional.) Nolan shot generous chunks of the movie on 65mm IMAX stock, and if you are lucky enough to see Interstellar at a true IMAX theater, the gorgeous images of planets are like a punch to the heart.

Emma Dibdin at Digital Spy:

Interstellar is a spine-tingling blend of brains and heart, a high concept sci-fi opera that’s as unafraid of cerebral ideas as it is of heart-on-sleeve emotion, even if its ambitious reach occasionally exceeds its narrative grasp. It’s the first film of Nolan’s that could justifiably be called sentimental, but it earns every moment of unrestrained emotion with another of quiet fortitude.

Clayton Davis at Awards Circuit:

Christopher Nolan. A staple of blockbuster cinema for over a decade has crafted another technical marvel for the world to indulge. “Interstellar” has the Academy Award nominated screenwriter and director taking new liberties in his style and approach to character development while paying homage to classic filmmakers from decades past. “Interstellar” is a roaring achievement of technical proficiency, faithful to new ideas for our own existence and where we might find ourselves exploring.

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Scott Mendelson at Forbes:

Enough of Interstellar is thoughtful, engaging, and visually dynamic that it feels almost petty to acknowledge that the picture doesn’t quite hold together as a movie. Chris Nolan is one of the more talented directors working in the industry right now, and he has directed some of my favorite films of the last fifteen years. He is not singularly responsible for keeping the notion of the original big-budget Hollywood spectacular alive in an era of reboots and adaptations and the (relative) artistic failure of his latest opus shouldn’t mean anything other than the film doesn’t quite work for me as well as I had hoped. Interstellar is certainly a noble effort that wears its heart on its sleeve and arguably should still be seen on the biggest IMAX screen possible if you had the slightest interest in the project leading up to its release. But in terms of what Mr. Nolan is capable of and in terms of the film viewed in a relative vacuum, Interstellar is not quite a success. I can’t insult those involved by grading on an admiration-based curve.

Todd McCarthy at The Hollywood Reporter:

Preoccupied with nothing less than the notion that humankind will one day need to migrate from Earth to some other planet we can call home, Interstellar so bulges with ideas, ambitions, theories, melodrama, technical wizardry, wondrous imagery and core emotions that it was almost inevitable that some of it would stick while other stuff would fall to the floor. Feeling very much like Christopher Nolan’s personal response to his favorite film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, this grandly conceived and executed epic tries to give equal weight to intimate human emotions and speculation about the cosmos, with mixed results, but is never less than engrossing, and sometimes more than that.

Alonso Duralde at The Wrap:

The universe-spanning saga — starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, and Jessica Chastain — is challenging, provocative, and gorgeous. Until it isn’t. To paraphrase Christopher Nolan‘s “The Dark Knight,” we don’t get the prestige filmmakers we need, we get the ones we deserve. And one of the ones we seemingly deserve is Nolan himself, a filmmaker with a keen visual sense but also one who undercuts the big, challenging ideas of his movies with unnecessarily tidy resolutions.

Interstellar arrives on November 5th on film and November 7th everywhere else.

What do you think of the first impressions?


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