Interstellar: 5 Things It Got Right (& 5 It Got Wrong)

Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar was initially conceived by theoretical physicist Kip Thorne for Steven Spielberg, but once Spielberg dropped out and Nolan took the director’s chair, he turned the project into his own unique take on the cosmic voyage of 2001: A Space Odyssey, one of his favorite and most influential movies.

While a lot of Nolan’s fanboys claim that this is one of the greatest movies ever made and an underrated gem despite its nearly $700 million box office haul, it’s far from a perfect movie. It pales in comparison to the director’s best work, like The Dark Knight and Dunkirk, but it’s far greater than the average sci-fi blockbuster.

10 Right: 70mm IMAX Cinematography

Nolan’s director of photography Hoyte van Hoytema shot Interstellar on a combination of anamorphic 35mm and IMAX 70mm, and the result is a sight to behold.

The director’s penchant for telling stories based on theoretical concepts as opposed to a narrative driving force has been the subject of criticism, but there’s no denying his command of the visual form.

9 Wrong: Stiff Dialogue

The dialogue in Interstellar is far from naturalistic. Instead of letting the characters talk like human beings conversing with one another, Nolan used them all as mouthpieces for his lofty thematic concepts. In particular, Anne Hathaway’s Brand is used for this kind of stiff, on-the-nose dialogue.

For example, at one point in the movie, she actually says, “Love is the one thing we’re capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space.”


8 Right: Matthew McConaughey’s Lead Performance

While the story of a farmer being sent into space as humanity’s last hope is pretty far-fetched, it does suitably establish the protagonist Cooper as an everyman — and Matthew McConaughey was the perfect actor to play him.

McConaughey and Nolan turned out to be a match made in heaven, closely collaborating to keep this vast sci-fi adventure focused on Coop’s love for his kids and his quest to get home to them.

7 Wrong: Inaudible Dialogue

This is a common problem in Christopher Nolan’s movies. In his most recent movie, Tenet, it’s so particularly egregious that it’s become one of the film’s biggest talking points.

In Interstellar, Hans Zimmer’s wall-of-sound score is so deafeningly loud that it often drowns out the dialogue (particularly the long monologues delivered by Michael Caine). Nolan apologists will point out that this was intentional on Nolan’s part, but if the dialogue is inaudible, then it’s just bad sound design.

6 Right: Depicting Future Earth As A Dust Bowl

Unlike the soft sci-fi often found in Hollywood blockbusters, Interstellar has its feet firmly planted in hard sci-fi territory. The opening act depicts Earth’s future as a dust bowl where natural resources are scarce and the planet will soon be uninhabitable.

This is an important cautionary tale about where humanity is heading. Instead of using sci-fi as an escape from heady, ominous real-world issues like environmentalist concerns, Nolan used it as a vehicle to explore them.

5 Wrong: Matt Damon’s Cameo

Matt Damon has an uncredited cameo appearance in Interstellar that Christopher Nolan kept a secret from moviegoers. Damon’s character reveals to Coop that he sent falsified data about the planet being inhabitable so he’d be saved and then tries to kill him.

But the fact that it’s a surprise appearance by Damon distracts from this shocking revelation. If Mann wasn’t played by a cameoing A-lister, his twists would’ve been more effective.

4 Right: The 23-Year Time Jump

It’s often said that Nolan’s movies are cold and emotionless, but Interstellar has a truly heartbreaking scene when Cooper and Brand return to the Endurance from the ocean planet and find that 23 years have passed in the hour or so they were down on the surface.

Coop checks his video messages and finds that for more than two decades, his kids have been sending him video messages as they age into adulthood, wondering why he hasn’t been sending any back. Tears stream down his face as his kids’ lives fly by.

3 Wrong: The Tom Subplot

Coop has two kids, Murphy and Tom, but he seems to much prefer the former to the latter, as do the extradimensional beings who send Coop back in time to communicate with Murph’s bookshelf.

As a result, all of Tom’s scenes seem tacked on, especially when he’s an adult and takes over his dad’s farm. The movie wouldn’t have changed a bit if Coop only had one kid and Tom wasn’t in it at all. He should’ve been cut from the script, which was in desperate need of streamlining.

2 Right: Dazzling Visual Effects

Nolan didn’t want his actors to have to act against greenscreens, so he got the VFX team to create all of Interstellar’s visual effects before filming began, then projected those effects onto high-resolution screens around the set, so the actors could immerse themselves in the world of the movie.

The VFX artists also developed entirely new CGI software into which they could input theoretical equations to visualize wormholes. The result is truly spectacular VFX.

1 Wrong: Sentimentality

It really shows that Interstellar was originally supposed to be a Spielberg movie as opposed to a Nolan movie because it has Spielberg’s signature treacly sentimentality all over it.

After making films about the dangers of obsession, the fragility of the human psyche, and the effectiveness of terrorism, it seemed weird that Nolan made a movie about the unquantifiable power of love.

NextThe Contractor (2022) & 9 Other Must-Watch Movies For Chris Pine Fans

About The Author

Ben Sherlock (3486 Articles Published)

Ben Sherlock is a writer, comedian, independent filmmaker, and Burt Reynolds enthusiast. He writes lists for Screen Rant and features and reviews for Game Rant. He’s currently in pre-production on his first feature (and has been for a while, because filmmaking is expensive). You can catch him performing standup at odd pubs around the UK that will give him stage time. Previously, he wrote for Taste of Cinema, Comic Book Resources, and BabbleTop.

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