'Interstellar': What the Critics Are Saying

Christopher Nolan's space-set epic stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Ellen Burstyn, John Lithgow, Michael Caine and Casey Affleck

Interstellar, out Wednesday in Imax and Friday nationwide, is the space-set epic that searches for a suitable home for humans in another dimension, yet is grounded in a story about love and family. Directed by Christopher Nolan, the super-secret drama stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Ellen Burstyn, John Lithgow, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck, Wes Bentley and Mackenzie Foy.

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See what top critics are saying about Interstellar:

The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy warns, "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. … 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. … For all its adventurous and far-seeing aspects, Interstellar remains rather too rooted in earthly emotions and scientific reality to truly soar and venture into the unknown, the truly dangerous." Hans Zimmer's compositions add up to an "often soaring, sometimes domineering and unconventionally orchestrated wall-of-sound score."

The theme of the parent-child bond "is overstressed in a narrow manner. Murph's [Chastain] persistent anger at her father is essentially her only character trait and becomes tiresome; she's a closed-off character. Her brother [Affleck] remains too thinly developed to offer a substantial contrast to her attitude." Additionally, "what goes on among the astronauts is not especially interesting and Amelia [Hathaway], in particular, remains an annoyingly vague and unpersuasive character in contrast to McConaughey's exuberant, if regret-laden, mission leader, a role the actor invests with vigor and palpable feeling."

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The New Yorker's David Denby says the film "is ardently, even fervently incomprehensible, a movie designed to separate the civilians from the geeks, with the geeks apparently the target audience. … There’s a problem, however. Delivered in rushed colloquial style, much of this fabulous arcana, central to the plot, is hard to understand, and some of it is hard to hear. The composer Zimmer produces monstrous swells of organ music that occasionally smother the words like lava. The actors seem overmatched by the production." Visually, the film's "basic color scheme of the space-travel segments is white and silver-gray on black, and much of it is stirringly beautiful. There’s no doubting Nolan’s craft. … But, over all, Interstellar, a spectacular, redundant puzzle, a hundred and sixty-seven minutes long, makes you feel virtuous for having sat through it rather than happy that you saw it."

USA Today's Claudia Puig gives the film three out of four stars. Among impressive special effects are "minimalist exchanges between McConaughey and Hathaway, whose chemistry as space-exploring partners is lacking. Hathaway's character is not given much dimension. Other members of the space team are even less well-drawn, so it's hard to care what befalls them." Also, "what is meant as a climactic humanistic ending seems to tie things up far too neatly for a film about the complex messiness that comes with a world that has taken dramatic wrong turns."

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Time's Richard Corliss calls it "a must-take ride with a few narrative bumps. … Interstellar may never equal the blast of scientific speculation and cinematic revelation that was Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, but its un-Earthly vistas are spectral and spectacular." In comparison to Gravity, "Sandra Bullock and George Clooney gave their roles emotional heft, in a film more approachable and affecting than this one." Still, "McConaughey’s performance as a strong, tender hero is notable."

The Guardian's Henry Barnes writes, "Interstellar only really gets going once it’s up in the air. … It saves its beauty for the cosmos and its humanity for the machines. The actors — even those of the calibre of McConaughey and Hathaway — are script-delivering modules, there to output exposition and process emotional data. The best lines, those that seem truly spontaneous and responsive, go to TARS, the crew’s AI assistant."

Email: Ashley.Lee@THR.com
Twitter: @cashleelee

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