'Interstellar': The reviews are in for Christopher Nolan's sci-fi epic

The movie has received many positive reviews, with some critics calling the film 'a sci-fi adventure of the greatest magnitude' and 'remarkable,' though a few found the movie to be 'unwieldy' and [trying] so hard to be so many things.'

Melinda Sue Gordon/Paramount Pictures/AP
'Interstellar' stars Matthew McConaughey.

“Interstellar,” the new film directed by Christopher Nolan about astronauts who attempt to find new worlds for humanity to settle, opens in limited release today and will be everywhere on Nov. 7.

In a movie marketplace where superhero movies and young adult book adaptations often top the yearly box office, “Interstellar” continues Nolan’s foray into creating movies that are based on original ideas. The script for “Interstellar” is co-written by Nolan and his brother Jonathan Nolan, while the screenplay for Nolan’s 2010 box office hit “Inception,” was written by the director.

If “Interstellar” does well at the box office, it brings to mind the 2013 film “Gravity,” another space-set fall film. "Gravity" topped the fall box office for multiple weeks and ended up winning director Alfonso Cuaron a Best Director Oscar. 

Nolan’s “Interstellar” centers on astronaut Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), who is brought on board a mission by NASA to try to find planets that could support humanity now that Earth is plagued by environmental problems. Anne Hathaway is another member of the mission, Amelia, while actress Jessica Chastain portrays Cooper’s now-adult daughter, Murph. 

Monitor film critic Peter Rainer gave the movie a C+, writing that the movie is “an unwieldy mix of the dystopian and the utopian… Nolan tries to pair the cosmic esoterica with this father-daughter tussle [of Murph feeling abandoned], but the mix doesn’t jell.”

However, the film currently holds a relatively positive score of 75 out of 100 on the review aggregator website Metacritic. Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times called it “a beautiful and epic film… filled with great performances, tingling our senses with masterful special effects, daring to be openly sentimental, asking gigantic questions about the meaning of life and leaving us drained and grateful for the experience… it contains some of the most memorable, most breathtaking outer space scenes since [Stanley] Kubrick’s masterpiece [‘2001: A Space Odyssey’]… Once ‘Interstellar’ leaves the Earth’s atmosphere, we’re on a sci-fi adventure of the greatest magnitude. The sets and production design and special effects are Oscar-caliber. (Please do NOT wait to see this film on a device you can hold in your hand.).”

And Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan found the movie to be “altogether remarkable.”

“It's a mass audience picture that's intelligent as well as epic, with a sophisticated script that's as interested in emotional moments as immersive visuals,” he wrote. “’Interstellar’ uses old-fashioned film to create some extraordinary images… The Nolan brothers' script, its use of familiar science fiction tropes aside, manages to investigate some compelling emotional material.”

New York Times critic A.O. Scott agreed, calling the film “a potent pop parable.”

“’Interstellar,’ full of visual dazzle, thematic ambition, geek bait and corn (including the literal kind), is a sweeping, futuristic adventure driven by grief, dread and regret,” Scott wrote. “The first section of the movie is the richest and most haunting… The touches of humor those characters supply are welcome, if also somewhat stingily rationed… It may be enough to say that ‘Interstellar’ is a terrifically entertaining science-fiction movie, giving fresh life to scenes and situations we’ve seen a hundred times before, and occasionally stumbling over pompous dialogue or overly portentous music… Of course, the film is more than that… ‘Interstellar’ may take its place in the pantheon of space movies because it answers an acute earthly need, a desire not only for adventure and novelty but also, in the end, for comfort.”

However, Washington Post critic Ann Hornaday wrote of the film, “There are moments of genuine awe and majesty in ‘Interstellar,’ but there are just as many passages that play as if Nolan is less interested in value for the viewers than proving a point, whether about the arcana of quantum physics, his technical prowess or the enduring power of love. Which isn’t to say there’s not much to value… Nolan stages [the astronauts’] journey with impressive, even thrilling verisimilitude… and he brings just as much imaginative vision to the places they eventually discover… But too often, the father-daughter dynamics that propel ‘Interstellar’… feel shrewdly calculated, the emotionalism ginned up to a hysterically maudlin pitch… ‘Interstellar’ tries so hard to be so many things that it winds up shrinking into itself.”

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