Michael Scott

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Interstellar


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Movie: :4.5stars:
Video: :5stars:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :4stars:
Final Score: :4.5stars:



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Movie

I’m going to have to tread lightly on this review. One of the hardest parts of analyzing these films is deciding what to right here without spoiling the movie for you. Nolan’s entry into Science Fiction is probably, nay not probably, CERTAINLY watched with as little information as possible going in. The story unfolding is done at a slow and steady pace, but done so that spoiling things near the beginning will most definitely spoil things along the way. I originally missed Interstellar in theaters due to EXTREMELY polarizing opinions on the matter across the interwebs. People seemed to either hate the movie or end up considering it a religious experience and with such opposite opinions I felt a little nervous about going to a nice expensive IMAX showing. Nolan has been a bit hit or miss for me, as I think the man tends to get wrapped up in his own hype. Movies like “Batman Begins”, “Inception” and “Memento” are works of art, while “The Dark Knight Rises”, “The Prestige” and “Insomnia” (which is one of the only movies that I know of that actually CURES insomnia) fall flat as a board for me. After watching on my home theater I rather wish I had ended up going to the theater as it ended up being an amazing experience, albeit one that required a few times of viewing to get completely won over.

Fast forward 40 years or so and the earth is in deep trouble. We’re basically running out of resources and humans are down to only a few crops left that they can grow. Corn, Wheat and a few others represent the last of humanities food sources and the Earth itself is withering away in old age. Joseph Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a NASA trained pilot turned farmer out of necessity. Living with his daughter Murphy (Mackenzie For as a 10 years old and Jessica Chastain grown up) and his son Tom (Timothee Chalamet as a 10 year old and Casey Affleck as an adult) on a corn farm with his father and law Donald (John Lithgow), he struggles to help feed the starving humanity. This all comes to an end when he stumbles upon secret government installation that daughter finds the coordinates to. Hidden and kept from sight, the remnants of NASA have been forming secret launch missions over the last decade with the goal of finding habitable new worlds for them to inhabit. Being an Ex NASA pilot in a world that doesn’t need pilots anymore, Tom is chosen by Dr. Brand (Michael Caine) to lead one last Hail Mary expedition through a wormhole to find a world.

Combined with a military robot, Dr. Brand’s daughter (Anne Hathaway), they set out across space and time to find humanity a home once more. Out in the vast reaches of space Cooper has to battle his inner demons as well as the demons of the whole crew in a last ditch effort to save what they can of humanity. Even if that means leaving everyone on Earth behind to continue the survival of the species.
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After watching it a first time I honestly thought I hadn’t really captured the essence of the movie. Watching it a second time gleaned much more information and a third viewing gives so much more to the story. Very rarely can I find a movie that stands up to multiple viewings in a short period of time, but Interstellar happens to be one of those lucky few films. The amount of sheer data and little nuances amongst the film is rife for multiple viewings and viewings done with a critical eye. One first light it seems to be a story about a father and his daughter. The love that a parent has for its child and the fierce loyalty their bond carries. On second look it’s a tale of time, space and an allegory for human nature, and on a third viewing I came to realize that it’s also a tale of satire and warning, with all sorts of connotations for those of us in today’s excessive days.

The science of the film is a lot more down to earth and realistic than your average sci-fi movie. So much so that some of the lingo and theories about time shift and relativity may go over your head. That’s fine though. The theories and lingo are there for those who can understand them, but also it’s explained enough that your average person can follow along for the ride. Especially pertaining to cause and effect. Interstellar felt absolutely ginormous in scope, being almost 3 hours long, but it never becomes boring. The first act is the slowest, but it sets the pace for the 2nd and 3rd act which clip along at a pace that never had me checking my watch once. Once the space expedition launched I was sitting in rapture, staring at the screen.

The third act is the most polarizing of the movie, as it’s the act where people ended up loving it, or loathing it. Upon viewing it I ended up loving the complete full circle science of the movie. The cyclical, paradoxical theories that make the movie a mind bender. The Sheer amount of star power that is in the film is awe inspiring, as Matt Damon, Matthew McConaughey and Casey Affleck do a fantastic job. However, Jessica Chastain and Mathew are not only the main attraction, but they stole every moment they were in. I’m always amazed at how Matthew McConaughey has matured as an actor over the years, but his chemistry with Jessica Chastain in the movie was awe inspiring. Their pain and love for each other was written on their faces, laced with every word they spoke. They worked SO well together that the sappy portions of the movie didn’t sees sappy, but rather needed. I have to also give a shout out to Matt Damon, for though his role was fairly small and hush hush, the scene with him and Cooper is one of the most visceral and important scenes in the movie (take special note of Damon’s film name Mann).




Rating:

Rated PG-13 for some intense perilous action and brief strong language.




Video: :5stars:
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Oh my. Now THIS is what I like to see for a catalog UHD title. I really enjoyed the Blu-ray when it came out in 2015, and considered it an amazing looking film (even tough it tended to be a bit devoid of saturated colors by Nolan’s direction), but this 4K UHD is a HUGE improvement over the Blu-ray. I actually put in the Blu-ray first before viewing the 4K UHD and was really impressed with out it look. Deep blacks, good detail, a nice bronze patina over faces. Then I put in the 4K disc and had my jaw hit the floor. The 2160p just looks THAT much better than what we’re used to seeing. Colors are bright and warmer (even though the film is rather devoid of deeply saturated colors, there are still some bright moments with the green waves of corn stalks, or the sharp whites of the planet that Mann fights Cooper on). Facial details look mushy in comparison, with individual pores and lines showing up with pinpoint precision. In fact the entire Blu-ray looks soft in comparison, especially while on the bridge of their ship. The most notable difference HAS to be the black levels. What I found magnificent in years past looks green and almost washed out. The 4K shows blacks so deep and inky that you get lost in them, and I was literally able to pick out whole start systems that ended up being lost when A/Bed the Blu-ray with the 4K. Supposedly Interstellar was shot using a mixture of standard 35mm film (which is displayed with the standard 2.39:1 aspect ratio) and 65mm IMAX cameras, which uses Nolan’s trademark shifting aspect ratios and then transferred to a 4K master back in 2015. I have no doubt that this same master was used for this stunning rendition as I haven’t heard any rumors or hints at a remaster (one was most likely never needed due to the short span of time between the master and the advent of 4K), and it makes for the single best demo disc I’ve seen outside of Planet Earth II.






Audio: :4.5stars:
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I’m actually surprised that a movie like Interstellar was given a 5.1 track, especially after being re-released in 4K UHD. This is the kind of blockbuster that SCREAMS for Atmos, or at least a 7.1 track, but Christopher Nolan is very specific in his audio designs and the 5.1 DTS-HD MA track sounds superb. The dialog is clear and detailed (at least for the most part, there are several action scenes where the dialog is overwhelmed by sounds around it, but that SEEMS to be a stylistic choice by Nolan himself according to interviews) , and the dynamic range on the movie is HUGE, and I mean HUGE. There were a few times where I felt the range was pushed a bit too hard as some whispering just was very hard to hear. The score was intense and powerful, but that also has a drawback as it got so powerful and intrusive that it actually made it very hard to hear a few scenes as the music just overwhelmed everything in its path. I will say this, the LFE on this one is a sub killer. I haven’t experienced LFE this low, this powerful and this sustained for a very long time. Some of the space takeoffs rival the famed “Olympus Has Fallen” plane crash for sustained intensity at the low teens MINIMUM hz level. My subs are no slouch and can go down to 16 hz with authority, but I was literally scared they were going to blow up listening to the crew enter the wormhole for the first time.






Extras: :4stars:
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• The Science of Interstellar
• Inside Interstellar: Plotting an Interstellar Journey
• Inside Interstellar: Life on Cooper's Farm
• Inside Interstellar: The Dust
• Inside Interstellar: Tars and Case
• Inside Interstellar: The Cosmic Sounds of Interstellar
• Inside Interstellar: The Space Suits
• Inside Interstellar: The Endurance
• Inside Interstellar: Shooting in Iceland: Miller's Planet/Mann's Planet
• Inside Interstellar: The Ranger and the Lander
• Inside Interstellar: Miniatures in Space
• Inside Interstellar: The Simulation of Zero-G
• Inside Interstellar: Celestial Landmarks
• Inside Interstellar: Across All Dimensions and Time
• Inside Interstellar: Final Thoughts
• Trailers










Final Score: :4.5stars:


Interstellar is a film that certainly exceeded my expectations, especially with how hit or miss Nolan can be with his work. It’s certainly long and full of a lot of scientific logic that may go over some peoples head, but it is a movie that requires multiple viewings and a keen eye for detail to truly glean all the nuances that it has to offer. It may not seem to worthy of all the praise on first viewing, but after chewing on it for a while and re watching again the movie certainly delivers. I was amazed at all the little details, the symbolism rife throughout and the depth of layers present upon multiple views. Nolan sometimes gets a bit too convoluted for his own good, but his sense of style and panache is present and the end result is nothing short of staggering. It’s slow, it’s fast, and it’s trippy and delightfully simple all at the same time. For this upgrade to 4K UHD the video gets a DEMO worthy encode that is the real treat here. Sadly there's no upgrade to Atmos or DTS:X, but the 5.1 DTS-HD MA track that Nolan put on the Blu-ray is still a rocking track today. While I normally don't wholeheartedly recommend upgrading a Blu-ray that has ONLY the video encode as improvement, but this is a real treat of a picture and the upgrade is nothing to sneeze at. The extras are what they are (and are almost ALWAYS direct ports of the Blu-ray), but that video is what we as home theater enthusiasts are paying the dinero for, and is worth the upgrade as the step up in quality is significant. Go for it.





Technical Specifications:

Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, Matthew McConaughey
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Written by: Christopher Nolan, Jonathon Nolan
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1/1.78:1 HEVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish DD 5.1, and English DVS 5.1
Studio: Paramount
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 249 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: December 19th, 2017






Recommendation: Get It!

 

JBrax

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Thanks for the review Mike. This will be added on release day to my library. I really enjoyed Interstellar and pretty much everything Mr. Nolan puts out. I’m looking forward to it!
 

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MICHAEL! You're killing me!!!

What I wanted to read is: "Meh upgrade over the original... audio gets one star for no improvement"

Alright... I'm buying this. BUT.... I'm really unhappy about the lack of Atmos.
 

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Thanks for the review. Great movie. :)
 

Michael Scott

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MICHAEL! You're killing me!!!

What I wanted to read is: "Meh upgrade over the original... audio gets one star for no improvement"

Alright... I'm buying this. BUT.... I'm really unhappy about the lack of Atmos.
call me the wallet destroyer Todd. I can't be sure, but Nolan was SUPER involved in the creation of the audio mix for this film, so I wouldn't be surprised if he put a hand down and said he wanted to keep it the way he mixed it for the Blu-ray as Paramount has been super good about putting Atmos on everything they can. I wouldn't worry, that 5.1 track was stupid good back then and still holds up
 

muzz

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No Atmos is a disappointment, but I actually liked this movie in Blu-ray quite a bit... doubt I'll double up without Atmos though.

Thanks
 

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Pretty amazing how well Atmos up mixers work for 5.1 and 7.1 flicks... so if video isn’t a priority, I can see your point!
 

muzz

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Certainly, and I considered it for that reason, cuz my RS400 would probably Love it..but...
If it had Atmos, I would get it, but....nope.
Been there....
 

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Thank you for reviewing. The movie was good and stellar audio but towards the end I got lost in the story. I will need to watch it again.
 

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Thanks for the review Mike. I actually got my copy of the movie early, last Friday. I watched it and was amazed at the overall image quality. HOWEVER, my experience with watching the movie, the black level was milky (similar to the blu-ray and what I remember of my two viewings in the theaters, IMAX and standard).

General reports from reviewers aren't mentioning as such, or noticing it as such, but other people around different forums are seeing the same thing.

Aside from that, the resolution, detail, color-timing, HDR highlights, etc. all were jaw dropping, especially in the many, many IMAX-shot scenes.
 

Michael Scott

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Thanks for the review Mike. I actually got my copy of the movie early, last Friday. I watched it and was amazed at the overall image quality. HOWEVER, my experience with watching the movie, the black level was milky (similar to the blu-ray and what I remember of my two viewings in the theaters, IMAX and standard).

General reports from reviewers aren't mentioning as such, or noticing it as such, but other people around different forums are seeing the same thing.

Aside from that, the resolution, detail, color-timing, HDR highlights, etc. all were jaw dropping, especially in the many, many IMAX-shot scenes.

that's interesting. That was the one thing that stood out to me the most was that the Blu-ray looked lightly green and washed out, while the 4K was almost night and day. still a teensy bit milky, but on my Sony x900e it was quite startling. Could it be a calibration issue?
 

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@Jon Liu I'm working my way through a review of the new Marantz SR7012... right now have 4 heavy hitter subs hooked up to it. I cannot wait to get a copy of this flick going!
 

Jon Liu

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that's interesting. That was the one thing that stood out to me the most was that the Blu-ray looked lightly green and washed out, while the 4K was almost night and day. still a teensy bit milky, but on my Sony x900e it was quite startling. Could it be a calibration issue?
Not sure if it's a calibration issue, I did have all modes ISF calibrated. Strange, either way, it doesn't deter that much from my enjoyment of the picture quality.
 
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