INTERSTELLAR Review: The Future Has Cigarette Burns

Bringing back film projection to wide release, Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar will be offered in digital 6 variations of 4K, 35mm and 70mm film (in order of availability) depending on your local theater. Starring Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Kane and several other talented actors you may not be aware of, this is arguably the most anticipated movie of the year from one of the most talented directors working in Hollywood.

We are taken on a tangible journey through space and time that will infuriate some while invigorating others. A visual masterpiece like few films this decade with some script issues many will be able to forgive.

The Story

Many sci-fi films which are considered to be “masterpieces” are meticulously crafted labors of love and precise in their detail. Striving to stretch our imagination and push the envelope of what is possible with movies. Sometimes this comes in the form of Blockbusters like Star Wars, and others in the form of art-house cinema such as 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Like so many of Nolan’s films his latest is an art-house movie in the guise of a $165,000,000 budget Hollywood monster. Following Cooper, an ex-astronaut turned farmer as he discovers a way to save Earth and his children from the world’s dwindling food supply. A wormhole has appeared near the outer ring of Saturn which leads to another galaxy containing potentially inhabitable worlds. Cooper and a team of scientists must travel to this galaxy in one last attempt to save humanity. No choice is without consequence and as a father Coop has to make the difficult choice to leave his son and daughter with no inclination of when he will return to Earth, if ever.

Space exploration with connections back on Earth and realistic portrayals of relativity make up the best science fiction drama since Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris, almost. Working exposition in seamlessly by having scientists of different fields debate options and argue their fields relevance, keeping Nolan from the trope of having one oblivious character having the sole purpose of explaining overly complicated science to the audience (Ellen Page in Inception). Eerie tones, a surprisingly fresh soundtrack from Hans Zimmer, smart dialogue and interesting characters give Interstellar all the right ingredients for true mastery.

This beautiful tale with incredible visuals is bookended with one of the most typical, convenient and inane plot points in big budget films. In a string of convenient plot holes made to tie the finale of the movie into a perfect bow we realize half of the time we spend on Earth in the beginning of the movie is unnecessary. All in all this studio clad story development occupies about 25 minutes of the movie and could have been cut out without replacement to create a more emotionally engaging and daring film.

The Visuals

Love it or hate it, this film is incredibly important. Seeing, Interstellar in every format available one understands why. Regardless of the format this is a technically brilliant film. Especially considering that a majority of the effects were practically done. What’s special about the different options is that each one offers a wholly different experience. In 4K we see a very impressive, sharp and beautiful but flawed movie. What 35 and 70mm film screenings brings realization to is that, it is a tangible thing.

Like a magic trick we feel each frame roll by and create a sense of wonder. Shots of a space station traveling through bending space and time is something that will stay with you for a while. While thinking about the script thoroughly may provide plot holes, investigating the visuals will do nothing but amaze you. Driving a car through a corn field is not something revolutionary, but filming it almost entirely from the outside means there was a lot that could go wrong and adds to the feeling that a group of people are working extremely hard to create beauty.

For all its mistakes Nolan’s epic is one of the most emotionally engaging films of the year. When viewing it on film, grain, scratches, cigarette burns and especially the purr of an actual projector reminds us why we love movies. Because even when they have issues, they provide us with not only a great experience, but a thick book of thoughts, day dreams and conversation starters. They spark our imagination.

70mm does not make Interstellar a better movie, but it does allow us to realize and enjoy our experience more. Hopefully studios realize the importance of a physical and interactive experience with movies and begin to once again distribute movies on film more frequently. This is the movie that will encourage a new generation of filmmakers to pour as much love, hard work and realism into their art as is possible.


Interstellar is not a movie that can be fully reviewed without spoiling its may plot points. Even with spoilers it would be impossible to capture in words. With that in mind it is an imperfect movie, yet it is getting a wide recommendation because it should be experienced and it should be experienced on film.

After all, why do we love Christopher Nolan? Surely not for flawlessly told stories, but to give validity to our dreams. Fortunately, there is more than enough to relish at here to justify its existence without excuses. Truly a visual treat and an emotional ride everyone should see this film.

4 out of 5 stars

4 out of 5 stars

Cover image via


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Categories: Movie Reviews

Author:Oliver Gelleni

Check out more thoughts on movies new and old here: I am an Austin based filmmaker with a passion and an eye for quality cinema.

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2 Comments on “INTERSTELLAR Review: The Future Has Cigarette Burns”

  1. 11/12/2014 at 3:40 PM #

    Best film I’ve seen all year. Powerful and fascinating. Loved every second

  2. 11/12/2014 at 6:54 PM #

    It’s definitely pretty high on my list as well. Glad you enjoyed it!

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