HomeFeaturedFilmnetic Face-offTenet vs. Interstellar: Filmnetic Face-off

Tenet vs. Interstellar: Filmnetic Face-off

Christopher Nolan has successfully established himself as one of the most prolific blockbuster directors of all time. His determination to create breathtaking, mind-bending stories for a large audience that is a wonder to behold on the big screen. Still, Nolan’s portfolio divides audiences as much as it thrills them. 

Two of Nolan’s most divisive films are Tenet and Interstellar. Both have a larger than life, action/adventure style mixed with a lesson on high level physics that some adore, and some despise. Nevertheless, both Tenet and Interstellar have their mark on Hollywood though strong fandom that Nolan has aggregated throughout his career. But no fandom is complete without a heathly, constructive debate. 

Tenet and Interstellar have their own strong and weak points that help to make the choice between the two a bit clearer. In this analysis, everything from writing, to visuals, to action, to overall quality will be examined to determine the superior film. Without further ado, lets kick off this Filmnetic Face-off with Tenet.


Christopher Nolan’s brand is intellectually stimulating blockbusters; everyone generally accepts this. Sometimes it gives fans a refreshing brain teaser at the movie theater, but sometimes it’s just too damn confusing. Unfortunately, Nolan’s latest time-twisting adventure falls well into the latter category. 

Tenet’s biggest problem is expecting the audience know too much going in. The script is filled with physics jargon that makes little to no sense to the average viewer and makes little to no effort to communicate that background information to the audience. This led to the creation of a film that has very little accessibility to mass audiences. But even though Nolan’s most recent film has an overly complicated plot, that does not mean that it’s a complete waste of time. 

Nolan now has two reputations in Hollywood: his intellectual blockbusters and his devotion to the traditional theatrical release. His secondary reputation was solidified when he demanded a traditional theatrical release for Tenet, even in the middle of a pandemic. To give credit where credit is deserved, Nolan was correct for pushing Tenet to theaters.

Most of Nolan’s movies have a grand visual majesty that demands to be seen on the biggest screen possible, but Tenet pushes the envelope more than ever before. Despite the complicated story, Tenet has some of the most creative and breathtaking action moments ever put to film. The massive scale and flawless execution make it one of the greatest set pieces of all time. As per usual, Nolan has created a technical masterpiece that is equivalent to or exceeds many of his other films.

The cast is also well rounded and do a phenomenal job. John David Washington and Robert Pattinson shine in their respective roles, but if you cannot remember their names don’t worry that might be the point apparently (the movie itself is that confusing). Because of its nature, Tenet is a very plot driven story, but with a plot that only makes sense after thorough attention and independent research. In other words, Tenet is the most Christopher Nolan that a Christopher Nolan film could ever get. 


Interstellar is one of Nolan’s most recognizable films. It was his follow-up to his hugely popular Inception and Dark Knight franchise and is an obvious steppingstone that led to Tenet. Interstellar is one of Nolan’s most ambitious films that helped launch a space drama renaissance in the earlier part of the decade. 

The film features the same action, spectacle, and visuals as Tenet, but with a heavier reliance on CGI (which is understandable given the nature of the film). This film’s greatest strength is its larger than life scale and its relevance to modern discussions about climate change. Interstellar manages to establish a relevant message and get it across despite its complicated plot. 

Yes, Interstellar has a complicated plot. Most of Nolan’s films do. Still, the film manages to save itself by explaining the difficult subject matter as best as it can despite most of the complicated elements remaining unnecessary to the heart of the story. Interstellar is a healthy mix of a plot and character driven script that does not make complete sense to the average viewer, but not enough write the film off entirely. 

This film manages to intrigue instead of exhaust, save for the final act of the film where it could be argued that Interstellar flies right off the rails. Still, Nolan along with his stellar cast led by Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway manage to stimulate audiences, maybe a bit too much at times. 


Both Tenet and Interstellar have their pros and cons. Tenet has high highs and low lows, but Interstellar has less fluctuation in quality across the board. The decision can be a toss-up depending on personal taste, but the borderline incredibly flawed storytelling of Tenet is enough to throw Interstellar over the finish-line. 

WINNER: Interstellar

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Chris DeFelice
Chris is currently a Graduate Student at Louisiana State University pursuing his Master’s Degree in Strategic Communication. His interests include all things movies and tv with a special place in his heart for Marvel, Batman, and Game of Thrones (even season 8). He’s here to bring you reviews, news updates, and all things in between.

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