Rarely has science and entertainment been paired more successfully than in Christopher Nolan's Interstellar. Or rather; rarely has a filmmaker put the scientific aspects of his narrative so much in the forefront as Nolan does here. Granted, Interstellar is a work of fiction and as such is equally much based on at best scientific guesstimates as on well-founded theories, but even these more speculative segments are being treated seriously and opened up for discussion – for both the film's characters and us in the audience. The meticulous deliberations our protagonists here must go through has often been avoided in this genre by filmmakers such as James Cameron and Roland Emmerich, probably because they feared it would kill off the suspense and dampen the action. Nolan proves here, however, that the effect is exactly the opposite: Interstellar is one of most tense and action-packed 3-hour films in a long time.
The film opens on a future post-apocalyptic Earth where crops no longer yield and the basis for human existence is withering. The 10-year-old daughter of former NASA pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is picking up a presence in her room which her father decodes as being coordinates to a secret NASA plant led by McConaughey's former companion Professor Brand (Michael Caine). They have discovered three potentially habitable clodes orbiting a black hole, and Brand persuades Cooper to pilot a mission to recover data from the three astronauts who have been sending data from each of these worlds. If they are successful, humanity may find a new home.
All space movies share some strengths and challenges, but Interstellar transcends most of these because its thematics and level of ambition are so gargantuan. Stripped down, this is an "ordinary" story of a father trying to support his family on the one side and humans as discoverers on the other, but in execution, Nolan blends the suspense of the unknown with the universal and timeless interest of science and a philosophical/existential aspect which is as meritable here as it was futile in his previous project of similar ambitious, named Inception. In that film Nolan went on a seemingly boundless exploration of the unconscious mind, and tried to convey his ideas through the ever-expanding possibilities of the film medium. Albeit interesting, the basic premise of the film was hard to get airworthy, because it demanded a certain level of unreserved assent by the viewers. Interstellar has a more universal and intrinsic attraction, not just because of the ostensible relevance seen in light of our current environmental challenges, but because its themes have always been critical to humans.
With its multi-layered and all-embracing formula and Nolan's expert direction, Interstellar has become one of the richest films to come out of Hollywood in a long time. The film merges the small (the interpersonal aspects) with the big (the future of our existence) in a wonderful manner, and the result is a perfect hybrid of art and entertainment which probably will be mentioned in the same breath as 2001 by future generations.