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Review: Interstellar IMAX 70 mm, or 7 Reasons to Go See It in the Cinema

Not to be outdone by Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway also gets in a spacesuit.

Ah, Interstellar. You beautiful piece of cinematic art. And because you were the only film of 2014 that I've been genuinely excited about since last year, I shall try and convince others to lose their stinginess and go spend on an IMAX ticket.

1. Christopher Nolan
Sorry, I lied. I've been genuinely excited about this film since two years ago, after The Dark Knight Rises. Why? Because it's Christopher Nolan at the helm. Other films get me excited about, well, the film itself. Like how the Pacific Rim sequel and Star Wars Episode VII excite me because the franchises excite me. But Nolan is one of the few directors whose films I'd watch in a heartbeat, even without knowing what his film is about. I'm not sure if it's his brilliantly-paced non-linear storytelling style that excites me, or the fact that he likes to tackle subject matter that no filmmaker before him has ever dared touch. Like the astronauts on board the Endurance, Nolan is an explorer, venturing into uncharted territories in visual storytelling.

Directed by Christopher Nolan? Here, take my money.

2. Original screenplay
Go watch Interstellar. Don't wait for the torrent to be available, you pirate. Go and spend for a movie ticket, because we want this film to make money at the box office. Not because we want to make the Nolan brothers Chris and Jonathan rich, but because we want Hollywood business analysts to see that investing in an original screenplay not adapted from any existing source material (and by "adapted", we don't mean "loosely based on academic papers published in reputable scientific journals") can also make big bucks at the box office. Hollywood has been struggling with a drought of stories written specifically for the cinematic medium, and it could kill its film industry like the crops in Kansas. Or Texas. Or wherever the hell Interstellar is set.

3. Minimal CGI
Like all of Nolan's previous works, this film uses computer-generated imagery very sparingly. He prefers actual sets or miniature models over CGI, and it's more than just his cinematic style–it actually creates a realism you can detect with your naked eye, and it draws out a better performance from the actors, knowing that they are not reacting to a green screen.

Also noteworthy is how long the end credits are–just around one-tenth the time of the usual Hollywood blockbuster. That's because fewer people are needed for physical effects as compared to the long list of names required for CGI special effects, with rendering requirements necessitating the need to outsource their labour.

4. Free physics lesson
If you've always been interested in space exploration and intergalactic travel but have never had the fortitude to stare at a mathematical equation for more than ten seconds without throwing up, then this film is for you. It takes the brilliant ideas of renowned theoretical and astrophysicist Kip Thorne (no relation to Rip Torn, though their names sound very much alike), and simplifies them without losing their scientific bases. The famous "twin paradox", which discusses the passage of time as seen by two observers travelling at different speeds, or the effects of gravity on an extraterrestrial scale, such as its relation to the tides and waves which we take for granted on our seas on Earth–these are touched on by the film and dumbed down for the average moviegoer to fathom. I don't think it's been dumbed down enough, though, because apparently a lot of people still exit the theatres muttering how their minds have been blown, and not in a good way.

5. Grand space opera
Who doesn't love space operas? The word "opera" here doesn't mean something where a fat lady sings, but something like a soap opera set in space. That means melodrama and cheesiness played out to extremes, with Oscar-winning actors Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway at the acting helm. And Michael Caine? Don't mind him, he's always in Christopher Nolan movies.

This black hole is more interesting than ten Michael Caines.

6. (Possibly) the last IMAX film
Although not entirely shot in IMAX, there are a lot of scenes that are, and these are the scenes that matter. The swirling dust storms of a dying Earth, the vastness of the stars, the complexity of a wormhole, and the immensity of a black hole's event horizon–these are all best viewed in the glory of 70 mm celluloid. For cinephiles who enjoy the grainy look of actual film stock, or for those who just want the bragging rights of having seen what could possibly be the last IMAX movie shown on an analog projector, see it at the SM Mall of Asia, not only because it has the largest IMAX screen dimensions, but because all the other IMAX theatres will be showing it in digital format.

7. The fifth dimension
The idea of a fifth dimension is very hard for a normal person to comprehend. Only a chosen few have ever had a glimpse of it; these are mostly the shamans and sorcerers, and those who have overdosed on psychedelic substances. The human race is only in its infancy in its understanding of the four dimensions, let alone five, so don't worry if you didn't get the film's premise and left the theatre scratching your heads. Five dimensions isn't going to go mainstream anytime soon, in the near future, or in your grandchildren's lifetime. The least you should've taken home with you is an understanding about love's ability to transcend dimensions, a newfound respect for mankind's indomitable spirit in the face of the unknown, and a mind-boggling fascination with everything about TARS the robot.

What is this? I don't even...

Interstellar. USA. 2014.

Original rating: 8.5 / 10
TARS the robot: + 0.3
Douchebaggery of Matt Damon's character: - 0.1
Seeing what a black hole and a wormhole could actually look like: + 0.2
Nolan non-linear storytelling: + 0.1
Nolan plot twists starting to feel more and more Shyamalan-y: - 0.05
Jessica Chastain: undecided
Final rating: 9.05 / 10

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