Originally released on Blu-ray and other platforms in early 2015, Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar is getting the full 4K treatment from Paramount as 2017 draws to a close. While not an effects movie per se, there was plenty of CGI and futuristic tech in Interstellar, which makes it a logical choice for a visual upgrade as distributors look to take advantage of the new format.
Set sometime in the near future, Interstellar finds Earth devastated by famine, the result of sweeping global climate change, and society now centred on agriculture. It’s here we find the widowed Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), along with his father-in-law (John Lithgow) and two children, tending to a farm. His daughter, Murph, is having troubles with a “ghost,” which Cooper determines is actually providing them with a set of coordinates.
Upon tracking these coordinates Cooper finds the remnants of NASA. The program is now headed by Dr. John Brand (Michael Caine) and his daughter, Amelia (Anne Hathaway), who proceeds to let Coop know the severity of the problems: Earth is dying. Their only hope is to send a crew into a wormhole, apparently created by an advanced race trying to help humanity survive, to find an inhabitable world for people to colonize and eventually repopulate the species.
From there, Interstellar splits its time between the space mission and those left behind, including Brand, Murph (Jessica Chastain) and her brother Tom (Casey Affleck). If it seems odd for those actors to play Cooper’s children, that’s explained by having time move at dramatically different speeds with one planet potentially costing the crew 51 Earth years in a one-day cycle. The divergent storylines unfold in an interesting way, and they help keep the sci-fi grounded in emotional connections.
We’re big fans of plausible fiction, and the way Interstellar’s future is presented is a good example of that. Rather than some mysterious plague or World War III that has turned the world into a post-apocalyptic cliché, it’s just normal people doing what they need to do to survive while trying to maintain a sense of normalcy. Plus, as noted, the story does a nice job of balancing some weighty science fiction by keeping concepts like love and family front and centre throughout.
The phrase “all-star cast” has been driven into the ground over the years, but there is ton of quality actors and actresses at work here starting with McConaughey, whose efforts in films like Mud and Dallas Buyers Club (not to mention True Detective) have pretty much erased the damage he did with Failure to Launch, Two for the Money and so on. Caine and Hathaway, who both worked with Nolan on Batman, do well, and there’s even a strong turn from Matt Damon.
With a reported budget of US$165 million it should come as no surprise that the special effects are excellent, whether within the craft, the vastness of space or on alien worlds. As you’d suspect, the jump to 4K is most evident here with the film’s unique take on plausible science fiction elevated thanks to improved clarity. Some scenes are legitimately demo worthy if you feel like using something to show off your setup’s power.
While you can nitpick items here and there, by far the biggest issue we had with the film was the dense amount of scientific information (real or fabricated) to digest. A lot of times in movies you’ll be given a very technical sounding piece of information, only for a character to break it down into bite-sized relatable bits so you at least have an idea of what they’re talking about. That’s often not the case here, and it becomes increasingly difficult to follow the further you go.
It reminded us of the second and third entrants in The Matrix, which cast aside the cool mystery surrounding the virtual world for exposition heavy dialogue that never seemed to go anywhere and served only to delay the next fight. There aren’t any massive action sequences in Interstellar, but the complexity of the plot’s technical aspects weigh things down and had us scratching our heads at the late twists instead of just going with the flow.
THE BONUS FEATURES
There’s around three hours of extras, all of which were contained on the Blu-ray version, which means you’ll be getting the lengthy “Science of Interstellar” where some of those complex elements we talked about are discussed in detail. A series of 14 featurettes comprise the two-hour “Inside Interstellar,” which takes a detailed look at the production.
Although some of the technical jargon still trips us up, Interstellar remains an undeniably interesting and well-conceived bit of science fiction, and the all-new 4K version rates as one of the best upgrades we’ve seen to date.