Christopher Nolan just wants to make the greatest movie ever. Is that too much to ask? Sort of. Because it's hard. But you bet your buns he's gonna try. And he's never tried harder than with Interstellar.

Let me preface by saying that Interstellar is not the best movie ever made. It's certainly not the best movie Nolan's ever made. In fact, it might even be his worst. This is coming from a dyed-in-the-wool Nolan fan, who regards his work on the spectrum from excellent to masterful. I consider Interstellar to be his worst because it is merely very good.

I will start with the bad news. Nolan, who co-wrote the film with his brother Jonathan, is no stranger to spinning a lot of plates at the same time. He does so in nearly everything he's ever worked on, but it wasn't until Inception that he got really into it. He went a step further with The Dark Knight Rises, a film with so many plot strands you could weave an afghan out of it. With Interstellar, he's at his biggest, most bombastic, and most baffling yet. He's got ideas on loan from films as diverse as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Field of Dreams, and The Tree of Life. That he tries to assemble it into a cohesive whole takes foolhardy ambition—a resource that he has no lack of—and I'm disappointed to say that he ultimately fails. While there is plenty in the story to latch onto on an emotional level, narratively there are so many leaps in logic, motivation, and ideology that it can't help but thrust you out of it. Nolan has reached critical mass as a storyteller, leaving Interstellar a bloated, convoluted mess. This will cause the film to lose everyone but the Nolan-faithful, and even some of those people may not be able to stick with it. In spite of all this, I refuse to divulge any plot points, because I went into the film knowing nothing, and I believe that to truly decide for one's self the quality of a film's narrative, one must know as little as possible about its details.

That said, if Interstellar were a giant, shimmering diamond, its story would be a glaring, ugly flaw that hacks right through the middle of it, preventing you from ignoring it no matter how hard you try.

But a diamond's a diamond, after all. Nolan is craftsman of the highest order, and in that respect, Interstellar is a masterpiece. Its mammoth $165 million budget is evident in every aspect of its production, from the stunning, best-ever special effects, to the crashing sound design, and the tactile cinematography. This is the sort of film for which IMAX was made, and Interstellar demands to be seen in such a setting. With his cinematographer (Hoyte Van Hoytema replaces Nolan-stalwart Wally Pfister), Nolan shot the film in 70mm, granting the film a visual quality that convinces you that you are right up in space with the rest of the team. The budget also brought out the best acting talent money could buy, including Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, and Jessica Chastain. If nothing else, the film will blow you away as a visceral experience, leaving you exhausted and exhilarated at the close of its epic 169-minute length.

No matter how much the story threatens to do so, it simply cannot tank this film. Nolan is too skilled to allow that to happen, despite his best efforts. Interstellar may not be the greatest film ever made, or even great, but it could never have been made at any other point in history, and must be experienced.

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