Interstellar has arrived on Blu-ray and DVD this week, and the first question you’ll ask is – does it work on the smaller screen? Pretty much, is the short answer, but I’ll go into more detail later.
It’s difficult to know where to begin with this film, especially since I saw it at a 10.15am screening and, on re-entering reality, my brain was left totally nuked for the day. It didn’t help that, when I came out of the cinema, it was to a grim-looking, rain-soaked Manchester, itself looking like a typical movie dystopian nightmare. Anyhoo, let’s start with the basics.
As Michael Caine, as Professor Brand, says in the trailer, when asked by Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) what’s the plan to save Earth, “We’re not meant to save Earth… We’re meant to leave it”, and thanks to the efforts of past missions in the last decade, and the data they’ve sent back, they have an idea of where is the best place to colonise in outer space. This, of course, begs the question – if you go out into the great unknown via wormholes to get you from one galaxy to another, what chance is there of returning? And is there much point when time travels at different speeds out there – for example, with one hour on one planet equalling seven years on Earth, and since Earth is expected to be uninhabitable by the end of Cooper’s childrens’ generation, you may as well wait until they come out to you, since they’ll be rapidly catching up with your age.
Then again, even if everyone could leave Earth and go and live on another planet, how would the governments of the world afford to re-house them all when they can’t afford normal life on this planet? But anyway…
Cooper and Caine’s daughter, Amelia Brand (Anne Hathaway), are the two astronauts chosen to lead the mission, along with others who are basic tertiary characters and a robot. Yes, every movie space mission has to have a robot, even when they’re not the most dexterous in the world… sorry, universe, because they don’t have opposable thumbs. However, Interstellar has the weirdest robot in cinema. TARS (voiced by Bill Irwin) looks nothing like a conventional robot, or even a humanoid. In fact, it looks like a walking 4-finger Kitkat! (below)
Interstellar is the first new film from Christopher Nolan following the completion of his Dark Knight Trilogy, and, like his second and third Batman films, it also contains a great deal of footage shot in the full IMAX ratio of 1.44:1, which is such a rarity these days because you have to shoot on film (which, reportedly, Warner Bros bought all of it up), and such stocks of film are depleting, meaning that this is most likely to be the LAST EVER FILM which features IMAX footage in 1.44:1. Lots of films contain IMAX footage shot digitally, but that ratio only opens up to a maximum of around 1.90:1, examples from last year including Guardians of the Galaxy and Transformers: Age of Extinction.
Judging by the Batman films, I figured the IMAX scenes from this film would be presented opened up to a maximum of 16:9 on Blu-ray (and I was right), which will be okay for a lot of them, but there are some which can ONLY be seen in 1.44:1 for the full effect. However, we won’t see it that way again… until if and when we get a theatrical re-release with the additional 12 minutes which was shown earlier this year in the US as a one-off. Well, you just know it’ll happen before long. Perhaps on its one-year anniversary?
It’s difficult to go into much detail about Interstellar without giving spoilers, so I’ll have to just not go into much detail. The fact is that this film is one hell of a mindfuck.
Films which sprang to mind while watching it include 2001, where you get some deathly silent moments, during which if anyone happens to talk them they must die. In fact, a law’s just been passed to make that legal. Thankfully, I didn’t need to exercise this during the screening as no-one said a word. These silent pieces are brief but breathtaking, and I was wondering during one of them if I heard the sound of the projector whirring away, as it was shot on film, but I didn’t hear it later, so maybe it was a slight moment of ambient noise… not that there’s any of that in space.
Also, there’s 1997’s Contact, which also brought us messages from outer space, wormholes – as well as Matthew McConaughey, and now Nolan has put them on an IMAX screen in 70mm.
Beforehand, I was wondering, would Nolan dare to give us little green men on a far off planet? I won’t answer that, but I will say that Interstellar is an assault on the senses. Yes, it overplays on the emotion but not in a schmaltzy way that makes you think “Oh, pur-lease!” – at least not to this viewer. I got completely sucked in by it.
Go to page 2 for more thoughts on the film and its IMAX presentation.
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.