Interstellar 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
In the months leading up to its theatrical release, Christopher Nolan’s INTERSTELLAR was billed as an epic, high concept space adventure. So I imagine many people that saw it in theaters and expected something in the vein of Alien were surprised that the movie isn’t so much a space adventure, but it’s actually about a man’s inner struggle between protecting his family and doing his duty. INTERSTELLAR is much more complicated than that, but it’s that focus on family, duty, love and responsibility that make INTERSTELLAR so brilliant.
Since finishing INTERSTELLAR, I’ve thought about it constantly and the only way to truly dive into the film is to break it up into three parts. The first part of the movie really focuses on Cooper (McConaughey) and his family, particularly with his daughter Murph. It’s clear that Nolan wanted to focus on Cooper’s family because we went 45 minutes before we saw anyone go into space. As it turns out, this is actually my favorite part of the film and the scene where Cooper has to say goodbye to Murph really got to me. It’s a powerful scene and a moment that should hit any father pretty hard, especially if you’ve ever had to go on a business trip and your child has cried as you left. And no, going to Dallas for a day trip is not the same as going into space for several years, but the sentiment is the same. The family relationship is explored after Cooper launches into space, but the only communication he has with his family is through video recordings. Because of time relativity (no, I don’t know it well enough to talk about it, but I took the filmmakers word for it), Cooper is aging differently than the people on earth. So he only gets to see his family in bursts, each time aging significantly. It’s heart wrenching to watch Cooper as he watches the video clips of his family aging before his eyes.
The second part of INTERSTELLAR is the space adventure aspect. The effects are great and the action is intense, heightened by an incredible score from Hans Zimmer. There are definitely more iconic scores in film, but I can’t think of a score that did more to heighten the intensity of a scene than Zimmer’s in INTERSTELLAR, particularly during a docking scene towards the end of the film. As much as I enjoyed the space aspect, I can’t help but think it would have been more impressive if GRAVITY hadn’t come out the year before. The idea of being alone in space and facing impossible odds was already explored in GRAVITY and was done exceptionally well. But INTERSTELLAR had some great space travel moments in its own right, but at times they seemed a little familiar.
Finally, there’s the existential aspect of the film. This is where things get away from Christopher Nolan a little bit. There’s mention throughout the film of “they”, which we think is some kind of spiritual being or beings, but it’s extremely unclear until the end and I’m not sure the explanation made much sense. There’s also a moment when Brand (Anne Hathaway) gives a speech about love being the unknown force that drives people, but it was dismissed pretty quickly. I liked her speech and how that concept fit into the film and would have liked to see that explored more efficiently. There are several other aspects of the film that touch on deeper themes, such as the concept of time, an individual’s responsibility to mankind and the sacrificing of yourself for the greater good, all of which were touched on to varying degrees of success. If there’s an aspect of the film I didn’t love or couldn’t get behind, it happened in the third act as everything was being wrapped up. I won’t give any spoilers, but I wasn’t sure what Cooper went through made sense in the overall scope of the film, or even if it was scientifically possible.
I’m disappointed that INTERSTELLAR didn’t get more love during awards season or even during its box office run. It’s a fantastic, thought provoking film, but I guess it’s not for everyone. Personally, the film struck a chord with me as a father; the idea of sacrificing a life with your family to save the world is a powerful concept and one that resonated well in INTERSTELLAR. Couple that with the great visual effects, wonderful performances and a great score, and you have one of the best films of the year.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: Supposedly, Christopher Nolan personally oversaw all of the 4K transfers of his films and so there’s no reason to believe this 4K presentation isn’t the best possible video transfer available for any of his movies. For INTERSTELLAR, the video is amazing. The Blu-ray looked great, but the 4K takes things up a notch in terms of detail and color definition. This was evident in virtually every scene, but it struck me in any scene taking place inside their ship. The details in the background stood out and everything was noticeable and clear. That said, INTERSTELLAR is not a bright, colorful film, so sometimes the differences are subtle. But fans of INTERSTELLAR shouldn’t hesitate to pick this up on 4K, either individually or in the Nolan set.
Audio: I was surprised to see the same old DTS-MA audio track from the Blu-ray. It’s efficient and sounds great, but I was hoping for an upgrade.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
There are no special features exclusive to the 4K, but it does include a Blu-ray of the film, and you can read our review by clicking INTERSTELLAR BLU-RAY REVIEW.