5 Reasons to be Excited for Interstellar

Set for a release of November this year, Interstellar looks to be Christopher Nolan’s most ambitious film yet. Not much is known about the production due to Nolan’s secrecy, something he seems to be notorious for because of his belief that the best cinematic experiences are generated from the unexpected. Aside from the vague teaser trailer which focuses on man’s accomplishments, the only information generally known regarding the film’s plot is that it will follow a group of scientists and explorers as they journey through a newly discovered wormhole, with the possible involvement of time travel and alternative dimensions.

The film will star a list of promising names, the likes of which include; Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Bill Irwin and Michael Cane. Hans Zimmer will score the film too, possibly the most promising name of all. However, this will mark Nolan’s first film without the cinematography of Wally Pfister since 1998’s Following. It’ll certainly be interesting to instead see a collaboration with Hoyte van Hoytema. Despite the watertight secrecy of the production, the small amount that we do know, coupled with Nolan’s history and previous works, means Interstellar can be anticipated with high hopes. Here are five reasons why.

5. Ambition

The Gotham Rogues' stadium floor is blown up in The Dark Knight Rises.
The Gotham Rogues’ stadium floor is blown up in The Dark Knight Rises.

You only have to look at every film Nolan has made since Insomnia to see his undeniable ambition. It’s clear that he seems to be trying to one-up himself with every successive project and Interstellar will be no different. The problem with large-scale productions (particularly today) is that narrative depth is often sacrificed for spectacle. Nolan is critically acclaimed and respected partly because of his awareness that the two can not only co-exist but work in each other’s favour. The Dark Knight showcased some truly awe-inspiring big action sequences yet still holds its own near the top of IMDb’s Top 250. Similarly, Inception may have sounded far too ambitious on paper but its execution meant it was easily one of the better films of 2010.

It seems that the ambitious nature of his projects is one of the more significant aspects that makes them so successful. Without ambition in regards to complexity of production, films like Inception may not have been as appealing to a more casual audience. Similarly, interest in two sequels of a Batman reboot may not have existed were it not for the ambition and subsequent execution of Batman Begins.

4. Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey as Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club led him to his first Oscar nomination.
Matthew McConaughey as Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club led him to his first Oscar nomination.

After what looked to be a dying career in a string of bad film after bad film, Matthew McConaughey did the unthinkable and turned himself into one of the most acclaimed actors of today. It’s not that he was ever a poor actor; he just seemed to have been type-cast in a series of less-than-mediocre rom-coms. Out of nowhere, he turned his career around which led to his first Oscar nomination for 2014’s Dallas Buyer’s Club. Alongside his mesmerising portrayal of Ron Woodroof, McConaughey also has Magic Mike, The Wolf of Wall Street and Mud (also the film that brought McConaughey to Nolan’s attention) to add to his catalogue of brilliant performances from the last number of years.

How will he fare under the direction of Nolan? Who knows. We can be optimistic about it though because they are two of the better workers in the film industry today. With little being known about the role itself, it’s difficult to predict what he’ll bring to it. What we do know is that Nolan tends to get undeniably amazing results from his actors even when a role is given to an actor that doesn’t appear to me a correct match. Just look at Heath Ledger.

3. CGI and IMAX

The small amount of CGI in The Prestige added a great intensity to the film.
The small amount of CGI in The Prestige added a great intensity to the film.

It’s no secret that Nolan prefers to not use CGI when the same effect can be achieved physically, believing elements that haven’t been shot feel too much like animation (look towards the trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Is it a film? Is it a videogame?). However, when it is utilised in his work, it is done so with stunning results. The Prestige is a film that relied on its character construction and narrative complexity to be a success and it quite rightly was so. Yet the tiny hint of CGI that it did showcase enhanced it greatly, making particular scenes even more dramatic. Even Inception, a film dominated by (literal) dream-sequences clocked in with 500 visual effects shots, an impressively small number compared to films of a similar caliber which typically use 1,500-2,000 visual effect shots.

Conversely, he seems to use the IMAX format to shoot whenever necessary. The only problem with shooting whole features with IMAX cameras is their notoriety for being too noisy; an obvious problems for more subtle, dialogue-driven scenes. But sequences that are shot in the format have much more of an impact. The opening scene of The Dark Knight feels a lot more dangerous because of how epic and grand IMAX makes it. Due to its nature, Interstellar is likely to use more CGI than Nolan’s usual ventures but there’s no doubt it’ll be a brilliant supplement, particularly to the sequences shot in IMAX. Speaking of sequences shot in IMAX, Nolan strapped a camera to the front of a jet for certain shots. That alone will probably generate a good amount of buzz and curiosity for the film.

2. Realism

The Joker in The Dark Knight thrived off a realistic sense of unmotivated crime.
The Joker in The Dark Knight thrived off a realistic sense of unmotivated crime.

What better way to exhibit an emphasis on realism than the Dark Knight trilogy? Not only are physical effects favoured over their computer-generated counterparts, but the comic-book characters are given a human depth unmatched in any other superhero movie(s). On top of this is a conglomeration of very real themes throughout the course of the three films; corruption, greed, terrorism and vengeance. It’s clear that Nolan likes to make films that are as realistic as can be, regardless of subject matter. The same can be said for The Prestige in which a story about competition between two stage magicians explores darker themes of human sacrifice, secrecy, (perceived) infidelity and obsession, as well as the incorporation of a genuine rivalry between Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. Inception hinges on the idea of corporate greed, something all too familiar in today’s world.

Realism is a reason to positively anticipate Interstellar because it is an exploration of concepts that are still far out of the reach of human knowledge. This is typically the case with science-fiction (the genre’s name is a giveaway) but few break the mould and deliver a film provides an accurate prediction of the scientific future (much like Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey which was released a year prior to the Apollo 11 moon landings). I think it’s a safe estimate that bizarre ideas about space and time travel will be thrown out in favour of a portrayal of the aforementioned, based on our existing knowledge.

1. Multiple Layers

Inception had an intricate multi-layered narrative.
Inception had an intricate multi-layered narrative.

Like other filmmakers before him, Nolan is recognised for the ease with which he can create an unconventional narrative structure that manages to be compelling to casual cinema-goers and film buffs alike. The ability to balance intricacy and simplicity isn’t one that many storytellers have, yet the revenue and critical acclaim generated by the likes of Memento, Insomnia, The Prestige and Inception shows that it is one of Nolan’s specialties. Despite knowing little about its story, we do know that Interstellar will potentially focus on time travel and alternate dimensions. It’s likely that this will mean another film with more than one narrative layer.

If Memento was a typical ‘whodunnit’ thriller, it probably wouldn’t have been as appealing. However, a shuffled chronology and multiple layers make it more than just compelling. The Prestige is similarly captivating due, in part, to it not being uncomplicatedly linear. Inception is reliant on different narratives taking place at the same time given the story it’s telling and this is what makes it work so well, particularly the blur between dream and reality which is a key theme throughout. Nolan is fast becoming one of the greats in terms of his ability to successfully tell complex, multi-layered stories and Interstellar is likely to be a culmination of everything he’s picked up in his career.

Will it be a success? Only time will tell. Given Christopher Nolan’s track record however, we can probably predict that it’ll be both critically and commercially successful. It’ll be interesting to see what he can make under the rules of science-fiction. But something tells me Interstellar will be a lot more than just a run of the mill sci-fi. We’ll see in November.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Edited by Jordan, Misagh.

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  1. Arlean Chin

    While this trailer, is slightly underwhelming on a spectacle based level, I know Nolan is a filmmaker of taste and intelligence, but certainly gets too much love from fanboys who think of him as the best director ever or working today. In terms of working within Hollywood, he is making movies that are entertaining and smart and make you think, both narratively and thematically. What interests me about this besides all the talk of wormholes or whatever from the synopsis thats been online for quite some time is that this trailer downplays that aspect and also is coming out in November so its not being slated as a big summer tentpole film. This could be unfounded, but it makes me think possibly this could be a lot more of a “serious” picture, whatever that means exactly. Perhaps more on a level of Kubrick, which I know Nolan strives for because he discussed Kubrick a lot when talking about Inception. So, I don’t know. I’m pumped no matter what.

    • Jordan Neves

      I agree, I think the trailer has been toned down intentionally just to create a bit of buzz, when the full trailer is released we’ll get a confirmation of what the film will look like. Like anything, the fanboys unjustly put him on a ridiculous pedestal, however, he is one of the better directors making films today in my opinion. It’s good because it’s an offering of something different in an industry diluted by relatively empty films, much like Kubrick as you said. Thanks for commenting!

    • The Prestige, Inception, The Dark Knight and Memento are masterpieces. He’s a visionary and the trailer looks amazing.

  2. Eliza Daugherty

    I cannot wait! I remember when Inception came out and me and all my friends were talking for months how it was one of the most incredible things we’ve ever seen–then at some point I start reading about all these people coming out of the cyber-woodwork who claimed it was awful. And then there are those who destroyed TDKR (which on some points was justified but more than anything I think that good film was just a victim of impossible expectations). He’s still in my eyes one of the greatest filmmakers alive with a virtually flawless pedigree, and anything he heads has been well worth the ticket price.

    • Jordan Neves

      I was the same and my fondness for Inception only grew over time. I really liked TDKR too but I agree that it was a victim of its hype. Mind you, there isn’t much you can follow TDK with. His films aren’t without their flaws but they are still part of the better movies made today.

    • His films are good but thats it, each and every one of them is not a masterpiece the way Nolan fans pretend they are. The ridiculous over-praise of his movies is the cause of all the debate.
      Scorsese, David O’Russell and Darren Aronofsky (to name a few) are far more accomplished filmmakers.

    • Nolan has time and time again proved himself to be one of the best, if not the best director of the 21st century. How many directors can you name with his level of consistency and ability to cross genres, as well as provide us with “thinking” blockbusters, a bit like a young Spielberg or Cameron. Can’t wait!

    • Dierdre

      Yeah, I cannot wait for this. Nolan is one of the best director’s of our time, all his films are amazing, maybe TDKR dropped the ball a bit, but it was still a really good film.

      So we have Nolan, Mathew Mcconaughey (who over the last few years has really become an amazing actor), and a sci fi film (sci fi, this is also new ground for Nolan!) that looks like it seems to be about interstellar travel, not a space film about Earth! (these don’t come around often)

      This film has greatness written all over it.

      Can’t wait.

  3. Paula Riley

    Feels like it will have the same plot as Pioneers Over c. from Van der Graaf Generator.

  4. Guadalupe

    Wonderful trailer but I feel exhausted for Matthew McCougney. Did he realize he hasn’t been a real actor for the past decade and is trying to make up for in the past couple years?

    • Jordan Neves

      I’m not sure, it just seemed to come out of nowhere. Good thing he did turn his career around though.

    • I think he realized he is getting too old for romantic comedies so he is trying to boost his credibility as a genuine actor.

  5. I agree with what you said about McConaughey. I feel as though he was a very under appreciated because of those horrible movies. Although the extra layers thing can be a bit too much with Nolan, like in Inception where they must go another level deeper and then another on so on. It wears you out from time to time. His movies also tend to drag out in my opinion, if he can find just the right length this film could be perfect.

    • Jordan Neves

      I’m glad he turned everything around and proved himself to be a good actor, I’m looking forward to seeing what he brings to the table with this film.
      I agree to some extent, I like that something fresh and provocative is being offered in mainstream cinema. I think Inception is really the limit with where it can go though, any more layers and he risks alienating a large part of his audience. The Prestige worked well because it was multi-layered yet only followed a handful of characters, the same can be said about Memento.

  6. This teaser is brilliant.

    It’s a year away from release. A whole year. And I hate it when they reveal everything in trailers. This is just a teaser anyway. and rightly so, the movie releases in Novemer 2014. The fact that it’s still a mystery makes it exciting, and I for one would rather keep it that way.

    We know there’s a whole lot of awesome stuff that will be in this film, and the fact that the trailer keeps it all so grounded yet setting the tone, whilst giving us a glimpse of Mcconaughey’s character, is awesome. It doesn’t feel cheap, it feels like we’re in for something great. The mystery it leaves you with has a touch of class.

    • Jordan Neves

      I love the secrecy behind it, I feel that always works better when gearing up to a big film. It’s the same case for the new Planet of the Apes’ teaser trailer, watching that only got me ridiculously excited for it.

      I’m really looking forward to seeing McConaughey’s character in this.

  7. Christopher Nolan is going to take this generation by storm. If you’re not on the bus. I’ll guess you will be riding bandwagon for a long time.

  8. Jonelle

    I love Nolan’s artistic approach on his movies. I think it has a beautiful trailer with beautiful music, scenes and narrative. I think it’s good that it doesn’t reveal anything, I like the revelations in the movie itself.

    • Jordan Neves

      It’s a nice way to tease it, playing on what we expect according to his previous work. Can’t wait for the full trailer.

  9. I find it interesting that Nolan is switching DP’s to someone he isn’t as familiar with this time around. He is big on unexpectedness and visually, I can already see us being surprised by a new look to a Nolan film. Overall excited about the film and great piece!

    • Jordan Neves

      Pfister couldn’t sign on as cinematographer because he’ll be directing his first feature, Transcendence. You should check out the trailer if you haven’t already, it looks really good.

      Agreed, I’m looking forward to seeing what Nolan can do with another man behind the camera.

    • Jordan Neves

      Oh and thanks for your comment!

  10. iCorrigan

    It is sad how much technological progress was made in the 50s and 60s compared to how little there has been in the decades since. Anyone living through those decades would have concluded that we would already have colonies on Mars and other planets in the our solar system but instead, the best we can manage is sending drones out there.

  11. Totally agree with the realism in his films.

  12. I’m extremely pumped for this film as well. Christopher Nolan (along with others like Alexander Payne and Paul Thomas Anderson) is one of those filmmakers who has yet to make a film that I flat out dislike and I completely agree with you Jordan when you say that it feels like his future films are always a step up from his previous ones. Interstellar sounds like it will be stupendous for a number of reasons; first it’s the first film since the finale of The Dark Knight Trilogy so it’s fun to see something outside of that series (though it’s absolutely brilliant). Second, and I’m going back to your article again, is the ambition. Just the idea of making a film that tries to realistically explore time travel and wormholes is outstanding (I heard that they got the physicist Kip Thorne involved in the picture as a supervisor). It’s just a film that’s got everything going for it; and outstanding writer/director, excellent cast, fantastic composer, and above all an imaginative plot. Did I mention I’m excited for this movie; I’m not sure you got that 😛

  13. I’m really interested in how Nolan will handle the paradoxes inherent in stories about using wormholes to time travel (assuming that they will be time traveling into the past, and not into the future or just into other dimensions). I think that Nolan is probably the most qualified director to take on a story like this, considering the narrative structures of his previous films (especially Memento). Also, can’t wait to see what other amazing in-camera special effects he comes up with. Interstellar isn’t even in theaters yet and I’m already thinking about the DVD special features 🙂

  14. I don’t think I am able to attach a Borgesian meme to my comment here.

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