After all of the profits he generated by making the Dark Knight movies and Inception, filmmaker Christopher Nolan basically had carte blanche to spend as much money as he wanted making whatever movie he wanted the next time around. Similarly, after all the universally praised work that he’s been doing over the course of the last few years, Matthew McConaughey has become essentially free to star in whatever projects he chooses. Given all of that rarified power, what both men chose to do is to work with each other on Interstellar, a science fiction movie about a dying Earth, the ties that bind us together as a species, and a last-ditch gambit to find a way to keep our species—and, by proxy, that connection—alive.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that Interstellar is an event movie—large in hype, scale, visual splendor, and storytelling ambition. This isn’t just a story about how humanity deals with a crisis, though it is that. It isn’t just a story about a regular man who gets called on to do an extraordinary thing, though it’s that as well. It’s a big screen adventure. It’s a meditation on the relationships between fathers and daughters. It’s that sort of genre-heavy “hard sci-fi” story that’s more concerned with exploring future possibilities and imaginative ideas than it is in being pure escapism—all while still being pure escapism. When you factor in all of the things that Interstellar is trying to do in one movie, it becomes clear that it really is an attempt at creating one of those sweeping, mythic pieces of art that’s looking to provide answers to all of the big questions of life, the universe, and everything. And, sure, maybe it isn’t quite able to pull all of those lofty goals off, but it is still refreshing to see a mainstream release that’s got the chutzpah to try.