interstellar reviewChristopher Nolan has, over the years, become one of the very few brand name filmmakers. When you go to see a Christopher Nolan film, whether it's one of his genre-redefining Batman movies or something like "Inception" or "The Prestige," you know what you're going to get -- something with a whole bunch of twists and turns, full of inventive editorial flourishes, where the definition of reality is both tested and ultimately warped beyond recognition. In a way, saying you're seeing a "Nolan movie" is every bit as evocative as saying you're seeing a "Spielberg movie." You know what you're going to get, even if what you're going to get is wildly unexpected.

The latest "Nolan movie" is "Interstellar," the tale of a group of astronauts who leave a dying world (sometime in the future) in search of a new home elsewhere, beyond the stars. (Of course, this being a "Nolan movie," things are never that simple.) Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, David Gyasi, and Wes Bentley are the astronauts assigned this mission, while Jessica Chastain, Ellen Burstyn, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck, John Lithgow, Topher Grace, and David Oyelowo round out the supporting cast (some of their roles have to be shrouded in secrecy, sorry).

But is this the "Nolan movie" we've all been waiting for? Or an expensive, very big-screen curio that lacks real emotional resonance? Put your space suit on and count down; we're about to blast off.

1. It's Pretty Trippy
Nolan's biggest touchstone is, of course, Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey." There are a number of both visual and thematic callbacks to Kubrick's masterpiece, and Nolan even tries to appropriate that film's trippy nature. Whether or not "Interstellar" reaches the same far-out levels of psychedelic nuttiness remains to be seen, but like "2001," it gets groovier as it goes along. It's hard to talk about what, exactly, makes it so spacey without giving away secrets, but just know that the film doesn't exclusively deal with space travel, it also deals with space-time travel. If you catch my drift...

2. You Should Really See It in IMAX...
The best way to soak up all the hallucinogenic goodness is, of course, in the glory of an IMAX theater (preferably showing 70 mm film, as Nolan intended it). This is a big movie, with huge set pieces, and the best way to experience all of that is with the larger format. Nolan shot whole chunks of the movie with the cumbersome IMAX cameras, which produce a level of faithful film reproduction that is absolutely shocking in its clarity and depth. This is why you leave the house (and the Netflix Instant account).

3. ...Even if It Means Putting Up With Some Wonky Audio Issues
There were those at our screening that indicated that there were some issues with "audio bleed," or dialogue getting lost in the cacophonous shuffle of sound effects, score, and whatever the hell else is going on inside the swirling vortex of "Interstellar." And truth be told, we also noticed that too; sometimes bits of dialogue here and there would just disappear. But "Interstellar" is an insanely rich visual experience and a lot of the dialogue is expository in nature, simply explaining how characters are getting from point a to point b (or something). In other words: the dialogue isn't super important, even if you miss out on some stuff, it won't matter much in the end.

3. McConaughey Continues to Transfix
It's no secret that Matthew McConaughey has been on a winning streak (culminating in his Oscar win earlier this year for "Dallas Buyers Club" and the drop-dead brilliance of his HBO series "True Detective"), one that is continued handily with "Interstellar." This is a role that doesn't require as much heavy lifting as either "Dallas Buyers Club" or "True Detective" (and sadly doesn't require the short-shorts that he wore in "Magic Mike"), but is still pretty jaw-dropping. He's in almost every scene and there is one sequence where he almost makes you sob openly... and all he's doing is watching a TV. It speaks to the profound specialness of his abilities as an actor and his general likability. After rebuilding his stamina in the independent film world, he's officially a giant movie star again.

4. There Are Some Great Female Performances
Nolan has had a history of turning his female characters into either victims or villains (or both!) But with "Interstellar," he turns over a new leaf (or a new constellation) by actually giving many of his female characters something to do. Hathaway is terrific as one of the astronauts and Chastain shines as an Earthling trying to solve an even greater galactic problem; there are other roles sprinkled throughout, too, that show you that Nolan might actually have listened to the critics of his work, and decided to give something back.

5. Hans Zimmer's Score Is Great
It's really, really great. And totally unexpected for what you would think of for a space epic. Hint: it's got lots of what sound like giant church organs. Your heart will be racing for much of "Interstellar's" run time, and much of that has to do with Mr. Zimmer's work.

6. It's Really Long
Speaking of run time, "Interstellar" is truly long. It's 169 minutes long; that's 4 minutes longer than "Boyhood," Richard Linklater's film that took a whopping 12 years to complete and sets out to do nothing more than crystallize the entirety of adolescence. And there's actually a link to be made between the two films, especially with what they have to say about the passage of time and totality of the human experience, but that's for another, altogether headier article.

7. Sometimes the Movie Races Through Things
Even with that gargantuan run time, there are moments when "Interstellar" feels rushed, glossing over important plot points or character moments in search of the next big set piece. For example, McConaughey pretty much waltzes onto the space ship to take part in the most important endeavor in the history of humanity. There are similar moments where you just want to say, "Wait, what?" And have the movie slow down to explain things or go back over details. It doesn't happen. Because of that, it makes the movie seem sillier than it actually is (probably). These instances don't take away from the grandeur of the movie, but they do nag.

8. A Really Big Movie Star Shows Up Unexpectedly
But we're not going to tell you who!

9. The Robots Are Cute and Weird
There are a pair of robots in "Interstellar" that are cute and weird; they clearly owe a debt to both HAL and the monolith itself, considering that they are giant cubes that walk around and talk and dig in the dirt. They are oddly adorable and surely one of the weirder, but perhaps most functional robot designs in the history of cinema.

10. It Packs an Emotional Punch
One of the biggest surprises nestled within "Interstellar," with its heady philosophical conundrums and scientific jargon, is how powerful it is on an emotional level. And it's not just McConaughey, either. The movie is full of moments that tug mercilessly on your heartstrings while also making you ponder your place in the cosmos. This is probably Nolan's most nakedly sensitive movie to date, possibly because the project used to be a Steven Spielberg joint, and we all know how much Sir Steven likes to make us weep. But whatever the reason, "Interstellar" is thrilling, occasionally confounding, but ultimately rewarding. Since it reminds us that love is the one thing that can transcend space, time, and all matter of scientific weirdness. And sometimes that's enough to pull us through the black hole of everyday life.

"Interstellar" premieres exclusively in IMAX November 5, and then nationwide November 7.

Check out New From Moviefone on LockerDome on LockerDome
categories Movies, Reviews