Released in 2014, Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar ranks as one of the great contemporary science fiction films. In my 2015 release of the Blu-ray, I wrote that seeing it “at home on a television will not have the same effect as seeing it in the sprawling space of a darkened theater.” While that statement still has some validity, the recent release of the film on 4K UHD, and the continuing proliferation of bigger televisions in homes makes it less necessary.
The film opens on an unspecified date in America’s farm belt. Faced with overpopulation, Earth has fallen victim to a famine. Disease is killing crops and creating massive dust storms. With nitrogen on the rise in the atmosphere, eventually, total asphyxiation is unavoidable and life on Earth, impossible. Former NASA engineer and test pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey, The Lincoln Lawyer) now farms vast acres of corn with family: son Tom, daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy, Ernest and Celestine), and father-in-law Donald (John Lithgow, The Accountant). Still deeply interested in elements of the career that the New World Order forced him to leave behind, Cooper finds himself drawn to a fenced off area; obviously a top-secret location. Cooper finds himself confronted by what remains of his former employer: a kind of underground think-tank, tasked with saving the human race. Led by Professor Brand (Michael Caine, Now You See Me 2), NASA has come up with two plans of action. The first involves building a huge space vehicle to transport as many people as possible to outer space. The second would use frozen embryos to colonize a distant world. There are problems with the first plan—primarily overcoming gravity to launch the massive vehicle—but Cooper believes he can Dr. Brand and his daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway) have discovered a wormhole near Saturn.
Understanding this is a potential path to survival, Cooper makes the gut-wrenching decision to leave his family behind and pilot a mission in search of another inhabitable planet. Unfortunately, Cooper has no idea how long he’ll be gone and the weight of leaving his family versus the hope for future generations is a heavy one; overcome the issues and save his family and others, currently living on Earth.
Interstellar is a film that demands the viewer’s full attention. At 169 minutes, it’s long, but not a minute felt wasted. Anchored by an incredible cast that includes not only Matthew McConaughey, Michael Caine and Anne Hathaway, but also Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, John Lithgow, Wes Bentley, Topher Grace, and Matt Damon. It’s fascinating to watch this high-level talent handle the dialogue heavy film. Even so, the payoff is some of the most stunning and surreal visual effects seen on film in years. The sound too, is crucial to the experience. At times, the sound is appropriately loud and scorching. However, similarly to Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity, some of the most effective moments in space occur when there’s no sound at all. Compared to the sequences when Hans Zimmer’s score literally assaults the senses, Interstellar keeps the viewer invested.
Matthew McConaughey continues to show why he’s one of the best actors working in Hollywood today. McConaughey’s performance is emotionally taxing, but he makes it look easy. The scene that takes place after the visit to the water planet where they lose so much valuable time is proof of his tremendous ability.
Interstellar offers up a lot of story and ideas in its 169 minute runtime, so much so that things may get missed in the first viewing. It’s recommended that you watch this absorbing tale more than once, before forming a final opinion on it.
Interstellar looks phenomenal in 4K, allowing every detail to stand out. The aspect ratio varies between 2.39:1 and 1.78:1. I just couldn’t get over how good the color is on this release, and I don’t think I’ve seen blacks that deep. The level of detail is so fine, you can see the tiny rivets on the spacecraft, and individual grains of dust on the Cooper farm. While the Blu-ray offers a fine transfer, the clarity of the image offered up in 4K is on a whole different level, leading to greater feeling of immersion. Interstellar is a visual masterpiece in 4K.
From an audio standpoint, the 4K disc includes the exact same English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track found on the previous Blu-ray release. It’s rich, detailed, and immersive. The track offers stunning balance, with crisp dialogue and the heart stopping thump of Hans Zimmer’s score. While the music is overwhelming at times, this is intentional, and Paramount is to be commended for creating a truly immersive audio experience.
English, English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles are included.
While there are no extras on the 4K disc, all the extras from the original Blu-ray release have been included om the second Blu-ray in this package with optional English, French, and Spanish subtitle options.
- The Science of Interstellar (HD, 50:20) Matthew McConaughey narrates a captivating look at the film’s scientific basis, the work of consulting Scientist Kip Thorne, the films themes, the science behind the search for planets capable of sustaining life, space-time and the theory of relativity, the science of wormholes and black holes, crafting the film’s visuals, the birth of the universe, the Dust Bowl and the evolution of dust as a toxin, the likelihood of future dust storms, the prospects of escaping a dying or doomed planet, and the possibilities of colonizing Mars.
- Inside Interstellar: Plotting an Interstellar Journey (HD, 7:49) Cast and crew discuss the film’s origins, the film’s imagery, motivations, adding IMAX footage and the human element in the film.
- Inside Interstellar: Life on Cooper’s Farm (HD, 9:43) A look at the farm shooting locations outside of Calgary, set construction, working with corn, and more.
- Inside Interstellar: The Dust (HD, 2:38) The process of throwing real dust into the frame rather than adding it digitally.
- Inside Interstellar: Tars and Case (HD, 9:27) A look at the film’s mechanical characters, including design, the blend of practical and digital effects in bringing them to life and the human performances behind the characters.
- Inside Interstellar: The Cosmic Sounds of Interstellar (HD, 1:20) A brief look at the creative process behind the film’s music.
- Inside Interstellar: The Space Suits (HD, 4:31) A look at design, form, and function of the suits.
- Inside Interstellar: The Endurance (HD, 9:24) Designing the vehicle to resemble the International Space Station, built keeping authentic function and needs in mind.
- Inside Interstellar: Shooting in Iceland: Miller’s Planet/Mann’s Planet (HD, 12:42) A look at the Icelandic locations that stood in for alien landscapes in the film and the challenges and benefits of the locations.
- Inside Interstellar: The Ranger and the Lander (HD, 12:20) Tours of vehicle interiors as well as function, design, and construction details.
- Inside Interstellar: Miniatures in Space (HD, 5:29) A look at the use of models of various sizes and built for several purposes.
- Inside Interstellar: The Simulation of Zero-G (HD, 5:31) A look at the processes of simulating the absence of gravity in the film.
- Inside Interstellar: Celestial Landmarks (HD, 13:22) A look at the scientific details and theories applied throughout the film.
- Inside Interstellar: Across All Dimensions and Time (HD, 9:02) A look at the designing, and implementation of one of the stunning end-of-film visuals.
- Inside Interstellar: Final Thoughts (1080p, 6:02) Cast and crew reflect on the film and its potential influence on future generations.
- Blu-ray copy of the film.
- DVD of the film.
- UV/iTunes/Google Play Digital HD Copy
Movie title: Interstellar (2014)
Director(s): Christopher Nolan
Actor(s): Matthew McConaughey , Anne Hathaway , Jessica Chastain , Ellen Burstyn , John Lithgow , Michael Caine
Genre: Sci-Fi, Adventure, Melodrama, Drama