Directed By: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Bill Irwin, Ellen Burstyn, Casey Affleck, John Lithgow, Topher Grace, David Gyasi, Josh Stewart, and Matt Damon

"Do not go gentle into that good night; Old age should burn and rave at close of day.  Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
-Dylan Thomas

Ambition is the cornerstone of truly great filmmaking.  If a filmmaker is not taking creative risks and is being overly cautious, then they're not even in the game.  That's why Christopher Nolan is such a rare gem.  In the age of reboots, remakes, and retreads, this prolific director has chosen not to go gentle into that good night.  Nolan knows when to throw caution to the wind and when to attempt to realize his loftiest cinematic ambitions.  Whether The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, or Memento, his outstanding filmography proves this in every way time and time again.  As we get the holiday movie season started, I dare say we are being treated to Nolan's most ambitious film yet with this weekend's Interstellar.  Finally, we once again have a thought-provoking entry into blockbuster cinema.

Mankind has arrived at what is perhaps our darkest hour.  As we've depleted the earth's resources, we've become unable to feed ourselves.  We've been unable to grow wheat and potatoes for quite some time now.  With okra crops recently failing, all that remains is corn.  While the earth has been our home throughout our history, we're not meant to die here.  We're meant to leave it.  In order to survive, we must look to the stars and look toward finding a new home to sustain us.  That's exactly what NASA director Dr. Brand (Michael Caine) and his daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway) are doing.  With a wormhole known as Gargantuan opening up in our galaxy half a century ago, we have the doorway we need to find and identify other habitable worlds.  In a past mission on Lazarus, Brand’s colleague Dr. Mann (Matt Damon) led an effort to identify these worlds.  However, Mann and his companions never returned, and the situation has grown dire back home on earth all the while.  The only food we have is corn.

An engineer and former pilot for NASA, widower Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) now runs a farm.  Living with his father-in-law Donald (John Lithgow), his son Tom (Timothée Chalamet) and his daughter Murphy (Mackenzie Foy), Cooper gets a firsthand view of the decline of mankind and our inability to reach for the impossible once again.  When Murph declares that she has a ghost in her bedroom, Cooper is intent on having her prove her theory scientifically.  The result is that they end up discovering the coordinates of Dr. Brand's secret NASA base.  Upon arrival, Brand asks Cooper to do something that could save the people here on Earth (Plan A) or ensure humanity's survival (Plan B).  He asks him to lead a voyage to finish the work that Dr. Mann and his team started.  Ultimately, Cooper ends up leading Amelia, Doyle (Wes Bentley), Romilly (David Gyasi), and robots TARS (Bill Irwin) and CASE (Josh Stewart) on a journey through Gargantuan on the spacecraft Endurance.

Challenging mankind and Hollywood alike to aim a bit higher and reach for the stars, director Christopher Nolan's Interstellar is a sprawling, awe-inspiring cinematic adventure that pushes the bounds of blockbuster filmmaking.  Tackling frequent science fiction themes such as time and gravity as well as more human themes such as love and survival, Nolan goes for it all in this expansive, ultra-ambitious endeavor.  With spectacular visuals, thrilling direction, and an outstanding ensemble headlined by Mr. Alright Alright Alright himself, Nolan immerses us in one world after another in this incredible, breathtaking experience.  When a filmmaker goes for it all like this, there are inevitably going to be creative decisions with which some viewers will disagree.  For a movie as wildly entertaining as Interstellar, however, I've got nothing but respect.

A Christopher Nolan film is always thought-provoking cinema, and Interstellar is no different from its predecessors.  Of all the themes broached during Nolan's three-hour epic, time is undoubtedly the most intriguing concept at play here.  In Inception, going deeper into the dream world exponentially increases the amount of time an individual has to explore the world.  In Interstellar, however, it's just the opposite as the Endurance crew races against a rigged clock to save their fellow men and women back home on earth.  At the same time, the film explores the notion of time being a physical dimension that can be manipulated like any other.  While that’s a fancy way of delving into time travel, it's truly fascinating stuff that will leave cinephiles chatting for weeks.

While intriguing sci-fi motifs abound in Interstellar, the human themes of love and survival anchor the film.  The reason this is so is because father-daughter relationships drive the narrative.  Whether it's the central relationship of Cooper and Murph or that of Dr. Brand and Amelia, the characters in these relationships are fighting to survive instinctively because of their love for one another.  The rich dialogue and the potent emotional performances Nolan draws out from the elite actors he’s casted in these roles certainly augment the importance of these themes throughout the film.  With all the grandeur of a film like Interstellar, the emphasis of these themes adds a much-needed humanity to the film to balance out all the thrilling, explosive space travel.  Accordingly, Interstellar is a one-two punch of imaginative science fiction and engaging cinematic discourse on that which makes us human.

The visuals in Interstellar are unlike anything I've seen prior, and the final product is a cinematic spectacle that can only truly be appreciated on the big screen.  Giving his signature take on blockbuster filmmaking, Nolan aims to bring as much of the real world into these visuals as possible.  With this in mind, I must say that his trekking through Iceland and other exotic locations around the globe has paid off.  Marked by gorgeous cinematography, panoramic camera shots, and the genuine beauty of the world around us, Nolan takes us on an imaginative space ride to the 5th dimension.  As you soak in these rich visuals, it's easy to see why Nolan is in a league of his own in terms of modern big budget filmmaking.

The cast certainly doesn't disappoint.  At the front and center, we have Matthew McConaughey as veteran pilot Cooper.  Giving us a rugged American hero and channeling a bit of Harrison Ford's Han Solo, McConaughey gives a performance that packs an emotional punch.  A father first and a lover of his fellow man, the impulse to save the people back on earth drives every gutsy action his character takes.  There are several ladies who portray McConaughey's on-screen daughter Murph — Mackenzie Foy, Jessica Chastain, and Ellen Burstyn.  In the first chapter of the film as a young Murph, Mackenzie Foy delivers a potent yet melancholic performance that echoes throughout the film and haunts Cooper and viewers alike.  As an adult Murph, Jessica Chastain gives us a woman embittered by her familial circumstances but motivated to give humanity a fighting chance.  Finally, Ellen Burstyn gives us a wise old woman as the elder Murph.

The actors portraying the other father-daughter pair — Dr. Brand and Amelia — deliver the goods as well.  For his part as Dr. Brand, Michael Caine gives the film a certain grace.  Delivering most of Interstellar's money quotes and really providing a stately presence, the veteran actor continues his streak of Nolan films in yet another noteworthy performance.  As his on-screen daughter Amelia, Anne Hathaway delivers a rather guarded performance.  She's a lonely, obstinate figure who proves to be a frequent thorn in Cooper's side.  However, Hathaway’s Amelia evolves as the film progresses.  With a nuanced turn as Amelia, collaborating with Nolan once again has proven to be a fruitful endeavor for Hathaway.

The supporting cast hits all the right notes as well.  Amongst them, Bill Irwin delivers a knockout performance full of comic relief as the robot TARS.  Trading barbs with McConaughey throughout the film, there's absolutely no need to adjust the humor or honesty settings for this guy.  With his hilarious vocal performance, he definitely treats audiences to what I consider to be the most entertaining robot on the big screen in years.  Another standout supporting cast member is Matt Damon.  For his part as Dr. Mann, Damon gives us a cold-hearted antagonist who's methodical in every move he makes.  As wrong as Mann is, Damon's character is driven by arguably reasonable motivations under the extraordinary circumstances.  In a superb performance, Damon makes this abundantly clear.  All the other supporting cast members deliver laudable performances as well, but I have to stop writing about how much I love Nolan's latest film at some point.

Clearly, I could go on and on about Interstellar.  Unrivaled in his ambition, Nolan definitely gets it right here.  Offering a grand piece of cinema with a penetrating emotional core, he manages to deliver a challenging movie that doesn't sugarcoat its complexity for the average moviegoer.  While I'm certain there are plenty of naysayers, this is exactly the kind of bold filmmaking we need at the box office.  Interstellar gets a sober rating.