Up next (in Zach’s long awaited return) is Christopher Nolan’s latest feature film, Interstellar. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, and Jessica Chastain, the movie is rated PG-13 for intense perilous action and brief strong language.
In Interstellar, Christopher Nolan’s bold, daring space adventure, the Earth and its inhabitants face extinction, fueled by drought and famine. When a mysterious rip in the galaxy is discovered, mankind is given the opportunity to explore a new solar system and start life anew. The crew of the journey is led by Cooper (McConaughey), who faces the tough decision of saving the human race or leaving his children forever. Amidst the greatest battle between love and science, the crew embarks on the most difficult, important task in the history of mankind.
8.5 out of 10
I have been waiting for this movie for literally two years. Ever since the credits rolled for The Dark Knight Rises, I’ve been waiting for Nolan’s next feature film. With Memento, The Prestige, Inception, and The Dark Knight Trilogy, he has simply released great film after great film. And even though it sadly does not surpass the expectations Nolan has laid out for us, Interstellar is a very good film in its own light.
There are a lot of truly incredible things about this movie. The special effects are on point, the story is intricate and deep, and to top it off, the intensity is as high as it gets. McConaughey delivers a solid performance that drives the film, specifically through the relationship that he forms with his daughter Murph. Throughout the first thirty minutes, we see their similarities, we see the joy they experience when they are together, and we see why their love, the driving force of this film, is so meaningful. It is the reason Cooper is driven to continue his journey to save the Earth and it is the reason Murph is driven to solve the extinction problem. Without this strong relationship, this movie would have gotten really boring really quickly.
Speaking of boring, it would seem that this movie, at two hours and fifty minutes, would end up being mundane at some point. However, it is justified in its length partially because the themes are so compelling. Selfish desire vs the greater good is prevalent throughout the film, as pretty much every character experiences this inner conflict at some point in the movie. This is what makes them so human. You can empathize with every single one of these characters because of how unintentionally selfish they are. Save the universe or stay with your children? It’s a lot harder than you may think.
Nolan manages to keep you invested regardless of how damn confusing the subject can be. None of us really understand how black holes and wormholes and blackworms and everything work, but Nolan keeps the explanations short and sweet. Why try and confuse us with intricacy? He does a good job of keeping it simple… until the end that is.
The ending was not great. Without spoiling anything, the realism of the movie absolutely fell apart. All the science, mixed with the dark tone, set us up for one really nice ending, but instead, Nolan ran off that path. For a long time, I actually sort of believed that the events of this movie could actually happen (except for the whole baloney about a fifth dimensional entity trying to save humanity), especially since the film respected the rules of science. And then, the black hole came and everything fell apart. The story became dilute, the tone shifted way too abruptly, everything became absolutely surreal, and I was left dazed and confused. Lazy writing seems to be the only explanation for this wreck.
There are a few other problems; some apparent sound mixing issues towards the beginning that Nolan intentionally put in place (sure…) and a relatively unimpressive soundtrack from Hans Zimmer. So is this the best film this year? No way. Is it Nolan’s best film? Not a chance. But is it a good film? No doubt about it. All in all, Interstellar is an exciting, intricate love-driven journey that travels through both space and the human heart and will leave you both rattled and entertained in spite of its imperfections.
6.5 out of 10
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.” – Albert Einstein
If there was ever a director whose name belongs under that epigraph, it’s Christopher Nolan (Maybe Michael Bay too but this isn’t Transformers). Nolan’s films have grown increasingly convoluted yet well-researched. Maybe strange but definitely deep. About as dry as a desert but still brimming with provoking dialogue. Interstellar is all of the above.
I usually fall in Nolan’s favor. He’s made two of my favorite movies ever, leveled the landscape of action movies and brought complex pieces to the forefront (For better or worse). But poor Chris has suffered a bit of a backlash in the wake of Dark Knight Rises. Many now say he chronically writes himself into corners, relies heavily on leaps and jumps in plot and that he paints his colorful characters in dull greys and blacks.
And (sigh) I’d be lying if I said Interstellar didn’t embody all (Yes, all) of these criticisms. All of them. It’s a very languid movie that presents us with a pretty unexciting earth (Was this the same guy that gave us the dreams from Inception?). The characters are one-note and the plot crawls from hour to hour until it grunts, drowsily shakes the tired out of its head and roars to some life in the final twenty minutes.
But hold on there. I said unexciting earth. Let’s not forget people, this is Christopher Nolan. And when Nolan likes something he cradles, nurtures and develops it to fruition. Maybe in a complicated way that some people disagree with but he does it anyhow. And, in this movie, his love is space. This movie is a love-letter to astronomy, time and quantum mechanics. He really did his homework here and I appreciate that to no end.
Nolan’s space feels scary yet intriguing like a monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey (Almost this film’s spiritual ancestor). It’s beautiful and new territory but both the audience and the characters know it could kill them at any time. It’s a vast, vast vacuum. The cold technology that surrounds our characters compounds this feeling. The planets also feel this foreign.
So what about those pesky characters that get Nolan’s script’s way occasionally? Well, I can’t really lengthily dive into them because there isn’t too much to dive into. They’re bland. They spout that dry wit and emanate that stoicness we expect from Nolan. They’re cogs in the script’s intricate machine and not much else. Occasionally, we’ll touch on an interesting trait but these moments are fleeting and barely enough to excuse the three hour runtime.
In fact, if Nolan shaved off an hour or so, I may have been writing a very different review. And, though the research he seems very legitimate and interesting, it too serves to suffocate all the breaths of humanity (You know, the thing the movie’s supposed to be about saving) coming from the film. From there, it’s left to gasp for character development in its later quiet moments and it doesn’t get that much.
There are moments where this casts shine though. Nolan’s actors aren’t given a lot but they’re occasionally tossed a few bones and, boy, do they make the most of them. McConaughey’s star is rising and he plays a solid, ten minute one-man scene in this movie in such a way that it earned some mercy from me (I won’t dare spoil the specifics).
And the plot, though convoluted, had some neat twists and turns that half-resuscitate the plot. It’s just hard to follow those twists when you’re too fatigued to invest and the roads that led you to them were tiring. But if you could follow those curvey roads, good for you. You probably had helluva better ride than I did.
Nolan, I still love you. This film shines like a supernova every so often and occasionally escapes the blackness of the world it has framed for itself. Those moments are few and far between but had they been closer, I’m sure we’d be hailing this as another astronomical masterpiece, akin to Gravity or 2001.
As always, I still can’t wait for Nolan’s next feature however. But I won’t be rushing into any blackholes or time-space portals to get there.
Like Interstellar? Hate it? Let us know in the comment section below!