I've seen Interstellar twice now since its release in early November, once on a small screen projected at 35mm and once in full digital IMAX. The response from both audiences couldn't have been more different. The first screening housed a palpable sense of wonder and enthusiasm from the audience, whereas once the credits rolled on the IMAX projection an elderly couple declared the film "a waste of 3 hours", while one charming fellow proclaimed "that was the worst film I've ever seen." Mustn't have seen many movies then.

Although Interstellar is decidedly the most divisive movie from Christopher Nolan to date, to label it a "waste of 3 hours" is a thought I can't fully understand. While yes, it's clear how the film could lose you at various points throughout its vague and kind of silly plot, but it's an absolute mystery how an audience couldn't be captivated by the full spectacle wonder of Interstellar's universe.

To say Nolan takes inspiration from the quintessential 2001: A Space Odyssey would be both obvious and a touch reductive, yet it's impossible to not make the comparison. There's nothing overtly narrative-based that resembles 2001, but at a visual level Interstellar lovingly takes it's cues from Kubrick and combines them with modern technology to create an interesting and imaginative representation of the cosmos. The modular circular design of the flagship Endurance not only evokes memories of Bowman's initial space jog on 2001's similarly designed Discovery, but makes Interstellar's art design feel a bit more unique. In the years of new Star Treks and Guardians Of the Galaxys all featuring the same sleek but unmemorable spacecrafts, it's a breath of fresh air to see something that isn't just another knock-off Millennium Falcon.

Interstellar is set decades into the future, yet its tech is decidedly retro sci-fi; the Endurance is one part Starship Enterprise and one part Windows PC from 1994. But it still inspires awe. As the Endurance gracefully glides past Jupiter, engulfed by the planet's enormity, it feels somehow relatable - attainable, even. If Matthew McConaughey can get to Jupiter in this piece of junk, then maybe, just maybe, so can we.

The commitment to this human sensibility is why Interstellar hits most profoundly during serene or haunting moments of complete euphoric wonder. The bravest moments come when the film strips out the dialogue and allows its narrative to be told purely through imagery and music. Hans Zimmer's musical direction is truly a superb return to form that constantly propels the film into new directions. As Zimmer's oddly Argentian and Tchaikovskian inspired score shrieks while a multitude of lovingly realised wormholes, black holes and alien planets grace the screen, Interstellar becomes much more than just a blockbuster film.

At its best, the movie is an unparalleled sensory experience. Yes, if you think about the plot beats and character decisions for more than a few minutes it doesn't make the most sense - or at times, any sense at all - but in the moments where the imagery and score accompany each other perfectly, you really won't care that it doesn't all add up. Instead, Interstellar captures the very same sense of wide-eyed wonder, dread and naivete of a child watching a man land on the moon for the first time. Or perhaps a rover on Mars. Or even a probe on a far-distant comet. Nolan translates the childish excitement for discovery and exploration, and with the aid of a 165 million dollar budget, transforms this same feeling into vivid, grandiose spectacles.

But it's not all bombastic space opera melodrama, deafening scores and ridiculously over the top recitations of Dylan Thomas poems set to the backdrop of an engulfing void. There is, despite what critics will have you believe, a definite heart and soul to the film. The central relationship between McConaughey and his on-screen daughter is paramount to making the film work. While wide-eyed wonder is great and space exploration is bloody fun to watch, do we really just want 3 hours of that? Actually, that probably would have been fine, but Interstellar would have been worse off if it just settled for that. The father-daughter relationship acts as a crux that, put quite simply, is the only reason a lot of the cinematography choices in Interstellar have impact. The silent longings of a father trapped in desolate space as Earth slowly moves further and further away just slightly out of shot is beautiful in itself, but the added dramatic undertones make the image as equally heartbreaking as it is gorgeous.

Sequences of quiet introspection set against the vast expanse of space make for some of the most striking moments that resonate much deeper than Nolan's often clunky dialogue could ever hope to achieve. It's why Interstellar works much more when it sparks emotions through the eerie longing of a black hole, the harsh light of an event horizon, or even the unrelenting, unbroken image of a father watching a back-log of video messages from his children, unable to send anything back. Give me the power these visuals evoke over McConaughey preaching condescendingly about the otherworldly power of "love" any day. But also give me McConaughey sipping beer while he refers to his new robot best friend as "slick". I didn't say all of Nolan's dialogue was bad, just stick to the "show, don't tell" rule when it comes to the Big Themes of the film, please.

Travelling through the vast reaches of space has rarely felt as magical as through the lens of Interstellar. Boasted by a stunning retro aesthetic, the film-stock itself looks dated and grainy. A fantastical otherworldly haze washes over the frame that seems suitably apt for such a surreal, dreamlike picture. Whether it's idly gawking as the Endurance glides through a strikingly colourful nebula, or whether it's tumbling full-speed into the hypnotic stylings of an unknown wormhole, Interstellar's cinematography imbues a sense of wondrous amazement into its iconic space-age imagery. I can't say that watching Interstellar even comes close to the feeling of actually travelling through the unknown of space, but damn, it's probably as close as we're going to get.