The earth is running out of its resources and in the face of the sandstorms and the blights, humanity is finding its footing loose. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a NASA Pilot turned farmer is faced with the challenge of raising two children in a world that he is not sure will exist to let his children grow old. That is not all. His daughter’s room in their home has been showing some strange occurrences. During one of the sandstorms, the force of gravity strangely creates a coded pattern of a coordinate which leads Cooper and his kid daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy) to a secure NASA site where they meet Professor Brand (Michael Caine) and his daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway).
Brand is an old acquaintance of Cooper and he throws light on what NASA was actually doing up there. He tells Cooper that NASA had discovered a Worm-hole near Saturn which incidentally opened up doors to a new Galaxy. The Galaxy houses many new planets including some with an atmosphere similar to that of earth. He also lets him know that they sent in three teams to three different planets in this new Galaxy and all they had to do now was to go to these three planets and finalize the one which would suit the humans best.
Faced with a task equivalent to saving humanity, Cooper gives the nod to travel along with a team of experts to these distant planets on which the future of the human race depended. The travel through the Worm-hole goes on according to plan but the first planet that they arrive at brings on disaster as the relative time difference takes away twenty-three years from the astronauts and an accident results in the death of a team member. The team is now left with fuel enough only to travel to one of the remaining two planets. This strikes off another feud between the team members as Cooper wants to go to the planet that Dr. Mann (Matt Damon) has been signaling from as he believes in the brilliance of the man and it also seems to be the better choice.
Amelia wants to travel to Edmund’s planet which happens to be closer to the Worm-hole. Amelia’s choice is to a certain extent fueled by her love for Edmund which Cooper unravels and decides to stick with his own choice. Once they rescue Dr. Mann and start studying his planet, the team is unable to put an onus on the research findings and during a walkthrough of the planet, Dr. Mann confesses to Cooper that he had lured the team into coming to his planet because he knew it was doomed and that was the only way to arrange for his own rescue. He leaves Cooper on the brink of death and makes way with a pod to reach their command center from where he plans to head back home. What happens next forms the crux of the narrative.
Interstellar takes a brilliant start and it remains potent right till about the final fifteen minutes where it goes so terribly wrong that whatever was done right in the previous two hours and more is undone. The film starts off slow and sets up the mood wonderfully well. Aided by the dashing performances of Matthew McConaughey, Mackenzie Foy, and Michael Caine, the film literally skyrockets to an astronomical high. The initial sequences between the father and daughter, the explanation of the predicament of the earth by Professor Brand, and the way McConaughey’s Cooper sets out on the travel is heartwarming to watch. The action starts slow but quickly gathers momentum and by the time the first disaster strikes in the first planet they visit in the other galaxy, the audience is hooked.
The betrayal of Dr. Mann is a massive jolt and it gives you the creeps. A couple of scenes before that the director in one little scene takes away whatever he had given you throughout the last hour or so when Professor Brand confesses to a now grown-up Murph (Jessica Chastain) that the people of earth were always doomed and the mission was always about the existence of the human species and never about transferring the population of the world. It is at this juncture that you are waiting for something wonderful to unfold from the magical wand of Nolan. You are waiting with bated breath for that masterly turn of events that Nolan is known for but what you get here instead is an anomaly. The film which remained, on course for all this while, in a sudden jolt is derailed as it quickly shifts gears from a Sci-Fi drama to a supernatural impossibility.
The explanation that the film provides for the further turn of events is just too much to fathom. There had to be at least an inch of believability in the turn of things to make the viewers fall for it but the film just drifts into oblivion with its protagonist. After that fateful climax, the story drifts even further away as we see Cooper rescued from space where he chose to unhook himself to set up Amelia en-route to the last discovered planet that her love Edmund had discovered. Cooper, now 124 years old, is reunited with his daughter Murph who is now a dying lady, just in case it was not melodramatic enough. Murph, who had understood the signals that Cooper had sent from the future and used it to recreate a safe habitat for the people to survive, now sets Cooper on one last mission to get back to Amelia and further the cause of transferring the people of Earth to that planet in the near future. In an effort to tie off all the loose ends, Nolan further destroys the film’s credibility.
The cryptic gateway opening in a kid’s bedroom holding key to the future of mankind is just too much to accept even for the most ardent of Sci-Fi fans. Films like 2001 A Space Odyssey also left took viable liberties plot-wise but here the matter just becomes unbelievable and to a certain extent funny. The better idea would have been to let Cooper drift in the oblivion which would have grounded the film in reality but that would again take away the tool which resulted in him landing in space in the first place and would leave some vital questions unanswered. So you see the moment the film used Cooper’s daughter’s room as the pinnacle to the discovery of NASA’s center, it was doomed.
Visually Interstellar is appealing. The care that Nolan has taken to build this film up bit by bit, shows in every frame. The visual effects however are a far cry from the Hollywood standards. I was really crestfallen at the alarmingly ordinary visual effects. The sequence where Cooper’s craft tries to bond with the Endurance Center towards the end reminded me of the stop motion animation films of the past. The musical score by Hans Zimmer is apt but a tad bit loud at many junctures. It gives a feeling as though the director was trying to extract emotions from the audience using the music as a tool in sequences that actually lacked heart. The editing is crisp and is one of the major contributors to the suspense that the film builds toward the end.
Overall, Interstellar is a huge undertaking that feels epic for most of the part but falters terribly towards the end. Had the film offered a more sensible resolution to the questions that it raised, it might have turned into another Nolan classic but unfortunately, that is not the case here. If you enjoy large scale undertakings with deep human drama and not too much visual wizardry, Interstellar will be your pick of the week. However, if you let your expectation rise too high, you might as well fall right into the black hole of cinematic despair.