For all its supposed intellectual heft, Christopher Nolan's Interstellar functions as a film only when one abandons the head and follows the heart. Nolan himself takes a similar route through time and space to arrive at his cornball conclusion - it's gratifyingly earnest in its intentions, though off-putting in its methods. How far a film succeeds on its intentions generally boils down to the extent to which one's personal convictions align with the filmmaker's; thank goodness Nolan is so technically adept as a director, then. He produces consistently stunning images via a combination of canny production design and beautiful effects work, then arranges this alongside a bombastic soundscape to create a high-impact, maximalist style of filmmaking that's less original than it is effective. He puts it to its best use in conjunction with his human characters, enhancing the most potent elements of his story and thereby endowing otherwise wanting material with a tangible raison d'etre. He's more comfortable, and more successful overall, when he resigns the emotional components of Interstellar to baffling incompleteness, and devotes due attention to the film's creative content. Interstellar is actually less of a through-and-through stunner than the mind recalls - Nolan employs a resourceful approach toward his universe-spanning imagery, and the lasting impact is thus more vivid than the immediate one. It's this region of the brain, the one that responds to sensory stimuli, to which Interstellar makes the strongest connection, by a considerable distance. A troubling drama with a number of narrative missteps, and a questionable smart sci-fi, it makes up for its shortcomings by being an enthralling space epic on its own, curious terms.