Whatever you think of Nolan, or this movie, you cannot fault the man for lack of vision. Interstellar is huge in scope: visually, emotionally, and philosophically. It is much more a relation to his earlier Inception than his Dark Knight trilogy, but is no less engaging. The three hours whip past, held together with a combination of exploration of the unknown and danger.
There are unavoidable comparisons to be made to 2001 and Contact. While 2001 broke ground as a film, Interstellar comes out more complete and comprehensible. As to Contact… well, Interstellar leaves that in the dust where it should remain. Amusingly, McConaughey (True Detective) was about the worst thing in Contact, but comes out rather well in this film, redeeming himself via theme at the very least.
Chastain (Mama), if anyone, shared spotlight as lead in this story. She ran a complicated arc and also managed to build a strong female character in a rather male-dominated story. Related to this was one of the most amazing casting coups: Foy (Ernest & Celestine) as the young Chastain. It allowed for some wonderful cuts back and forth between past and present as they truly do look like the same person at different ages.
The story is at once intimate, as a universe-spanning love story, and immense, as a philosophical debate of the individual versus the species (not to mention the right of any species to survive). That success is a credit to the Nolans’ (Christopher and Jonathan) script. I thought the film to be simple as I left the theater, but then questions began to surface about choices that had been made and the implications implied. You can try to avoid this, but as soon as you try to discuss it with someone you’ll be surprised how far apart you may be on the interpretation of good versus necessary versus evil as well as the value of what needs saving.
Now, did Nolan get all the science right, even with Thorne watching over his shoulder? No. But neither did Gravity. To get it right (those parts we do think we know in physics) the movie would have had to run years and/or disintegrated our protagonists. Up to the point where we left what we really do know, it was all close enough. I think there were some questionable character choices made, in spite of known science, but those choices allowed for the rest of the story to take place, so you back off and accept it.
If you do go to see this film, and I do recommend it, see it on the largest screen you can find. When the visuals are good, they are spectacular. There are some focus errors (more than I’d expect) and the sound mixer really should be shot, but the composition is something to fall into. However, the overall effect of the film outweighs any of my misgivings. Go, enjoy, and get lost in a tale larger than most directors and writers have the guts to tackle.