'Interstellar' Early Reviews: Christopher Nolan's Sci-Fi Film is Impressive, But Flawed

Interstellar early review

Christopher Nolan's latest film, Interstellar, is not just one of the most anticipated movies arriving in Fall 2014, but (for many cinephiles) one of the most talked about titles of 2014. Per the norm for a Nolan production, though, much of that discussion has involved wondering just what the movie is even about. It's a known that the story by Nolan and his brother, Jonathan Nolan, involves a widowed pilot (Matthew McConaughey) who, along with a team of astronauts, goes on a mission into space to find a new planet for humanity to live on, in the face of a global ecological collapse on Earth.

Beyond that, much of the film - also starring Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, David Gyasi, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck, Wes Bentley, and David Oyelowo (alongside other notable acting talents) - remains largely shrouded in mystery, which is somewhat miraculous now that we're less than two weeks away from the film's theatrical release date. The first wave of Interstellar reviews have hit the 'Net, so we've gone and rounded up several excerpts from them, below - but don't worry, they're all SPOILER-FREE.


Variety - As visually and conceptually audacious as anything Nolan has yet done, the director’s ninth feature also proves more emotionally accessible than his coolly cerebral thrillers and Batman movies. [It's] an enormous undertaking that, like all the director’s best work, manages to feel handcrafted and intensely personal, “Interstellar” reaffirms Nolan as the premier big-canvas storyteller of his generation, more than earning its place alongside “The Wizard of Oz,” “2001,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “Gravity” in the canon of Hollywood’s visionary sci-fi head trips.

THR - ['Interstellar'] so bulges with ideas, ambitions, theories, melodrama, technical wizardry, wondrous imagery and core emotions that it was almost inevitable that some of it would stick while other stuff would fall to the floor. Feeling very much like Christopher Nolan's personal response to his favorite film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, this grandly conceived and executed epic tries to give equal weight to intimate human emotions and speculation about the cosmos, with mixed results, but is never less than engrossing, and sometimes more than that.

The Wrap - [Christopher Nolan is] a filmmaker with a keen visual sense but also one who undercuts the big, challenging ideas of his movies with unnecessarily tidy resolutions. In that respect, “Interstellar” may represent an apotheosis of sorts, as it illustrates the very best and the very worst of Nolan as a writer-director. On the plus side, there's a stunning portrayal of how far-reaching space travel might work, a glimpse at an apocalyptic near-future that's both brilliantly written [and] designed [and] and a vision of robots like nothing I've ever seen in a movie... [But] the resolution of “Interstellar” feels so inorganic and milquetoast that you'd swear it was concocted by a Glendale focus group.

Interstellar desert header

Badass Digest - There are so many frustrating flaws in this enormously cerebral, wonderfully hopeful and massively ambitious movie. If good intentions were enough to make a movie a masterpiece, Interstellar would be the greatest work of Nolan’s career. That said, even with its many flaws, Interstellar is an often gorgeous, expertly put-together movie that demands to be seen on the biggest possible screen. And while many parts of Interstellar don’t work, the whole hangs together enough to be a movie that impresses with hard sci-fi nerdiness. If only that were enough to make it the great film we hoped for.

Coming Soon - "Interstellar" is another one of Christopher Nolan's more personal mind-f*ck movies... While it may not be as immediate as "Inception" and it wears most of its most obvious influences on its sleeve, it's still very much the type of intelligent spin on a specific genre we've come to expect from the filmmaker... [Ultimately] Christopher Nolan's love letter to space travel and the exploration of the stars may require some patience, both with its pace and your own capability of understanding complex time/space theories, but it offers an incredible emotional payoff along with its visual spectacle.

Time Out - Christopher Nolan’s overwhelming, immersive and time-bending space epic ‘Interstellar’ makes Alfonso Cuarón’s ‘Gravity’ feel like a palate cleanser for the big meal to come. Where ‘Gravity’ was brief, contained and left the further bounds of the universe to our imagination, ‘Interstellar’ is long, grand, strange and demanding – not least because it allows time to slip away from under our feet while running brain-aching ideas before our eyes. It’s a bold, beautiful cosmic adventure story with a touch of the surreal and the dreamlike, and yet it always feels grounded in its own deadly serious reality.

In summation, Interstellar has thus far earned much in the way of critical acclaim for its ambitious ideas, as well as the scientific research that informs its world-building and plot. However, given the amount of envelope pushing, it comes as little surprise that Interstellar (according to the early reviews) can be messy at times - before it concludes with some third-act developments that feel less than innovative, compared to what came before.

Interstellar Featurette Kip Thorne

Truth be told, Interstellar sounds like Inception - big ideas wrapped around a simpler personal story. Difference is, Inception also has the entertainment value of an exciting heist thriller to offer, whereas Interstellar clearly resembles Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey not just thematically, but also in terms of that film's slow and steady pacing. Which is to say, certain moviegoers who enjoyed Inception might find Nolan's latest sci-fi mind-trip to be... well, a bit boring by comparison (the nearly 3-hour running time probably won't help in that regard).

That said, just about everyone so far seems to agree that Interstellar is worth seeing in the biggest format possible, for the visuals alone. Similar to 2001, it may well be that Nolan's latest film is one that many people will warm more towards after they've had more time to think on it (and/or perhaps after giving it a second viewing).

NEXT: Christopher Nolan On the Science of Interstellar


Interstellar opens in select IMAX theaters on November 5th, 2014; it begins a wide theatrical release two days later.

Avengers: Endgame Directors Joke About Secret Nova Cameo In Final Battle

More in Movie News