Since the glory days of 2001: A Space Odyssey hard sci-fi has become almost entirely absent from cinema screen. Occasional mini-masterpieces like Moon slip past under the radar of the box office and real smash hits like the excellent Gravity place more focus on white knuckle thrill rides then trying to shine a light into the depths of the human condition (unless you count “a desire to not be dead” as particularly revelatory). Interstellar has no alien menace, no evil overlords and nothing bursts out of McConaughey’s chest, but the occasionally clunky script has a deep humanity in its tale of mankind’s final throw of the dice.
The action takes place in the old stalwart of “the near future”, unchecked environmental recklessness has rendered the whole planet into an endless Dustbowl which is steadily chocking the life out of what remains of mankind. Former test pilot turned corn farmer Coop (Matthew McConaughey) is recruited by the remnants of NASA for a desperate attempt to find a new world to colonise. The only problem is that he leaves two young children behind and his mission has no expiration date. To say any more would take away from the pleasures of the twists, but it’s hard to not be impressed by the magnificent, cold portrayal of foreign worlds as seen through Nolan’s lense. Some may be put off by the three hour runtime and those who were unimpressed with The Dark Knight Rises are unlikely to be won back by this effort. However the obvious passion Nolan puts in coupled with its striking cinematography offers plenty to love for the receptive. As always it is a pleasure to watch a filmmaker reach for the stars.