Interstellar Review

So I watched Interstellar…


I’m a huge Christopher Nolan fan and I’ll always make an effort to see anything he makes or has a hand in but this movie, in my opinion, is a bit of a swing and a miss. It’s really disappointing because of how long I was looking forward to it and the potential it never quite lives up to.

Okay, basic plot: Matthew McConaughey is Cooper, a former aerospace pilot and engineer of some kind. After the Earth runs out of food (somehow…they never really explain that but anyway) he’s forced to become a farmer. After some gravitational anomalies occur in Cooper’s daughter’s room, he’s selected to pilot a spacecraft through a wormhole so that Nolan can rehash the plots of Back to the Future, Lost in Space, Prometheus and Gravity while the theory of relativity is explained to us for two and a half hours. Sound confusing? Nolan clearly didn’t think so.

Before I go into what I didn’t like about this movie, let me say a word on what I did like – the acting. This movie has an all-star cast and they truly live up to their reputations. In particular, I really enjoyed McConaughey’s performance. He isn’t gonna win an Oscar for this (nor does he deserve one) but he puts in a solid enough performance for us to start calling him a serious actor. Jessica Chastain also continues to sparkle. I felt like the script was holding her back a bit but she manages to do well with what she was given. There are also a lot of big star cameos and supporting roles – don’t wanna spoil any of the surprises for you.

The plot in this movie is probably its biggest problem. It’s hard to detail what I didn’t like about this movie without spoiling the plot. Um, let’s just say there’s blackholes, wormholes and time travel but not in the conventional sense.

In movies like this – movies that have unbelievable premises – I feel like there are two approaches you can take: 1. You focus on the technical and scientific principles of the unbelievable premise, letting the human element take a backseat or 2. You focus on the human element and how it’s affected by the unbelievable premise. I feel this movie chooses the former and it really drains the movie of its soul. The premise of the movie is not only unbelievable, it’s also completely devoid of logic. Look, I’m a fan of throwing logic out the window for a good movie but if you’re going to throw logic out, don’t make the focus of the movie the logic that you just threw out. For example, look at Inception. I’ve spoken to quite a few people about this movie and I’ve never had anyone question the premise of ‘dream-sharing’. It was something that was briefly explained but completely accepted because the focus of Inception isn’t actually about dream-sharing. Inception is about a man trying to get back to his children, the human element is the focus and because of this, we accept the unbelievable premise. In The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the focus isn’t on why or how this man ages backwards; the focus is on how the process affects his life. It sounds like I’m just fretting about semantics but the tiny shift of focus makes a huge difference.

Interstellar focuses too heavily on the mechanics of time travel, quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity. I’m sure Einstein’s corpse would have a boner if it watched this movie but I was searching for a human story to connect with and instead I was flooded with scientific jargon and equations. The movie does give you connections with the characters at times and there are moments when the story pulls on your heart strings but these moments get interrupted by the movie getting up its own ass in an attempt to explain the science.

The other problem I had with this movie was there’s never a sense of urgency of peril. The basis of time travel is that, the point in the future, from which something is sent back is constant. The Terminator could never kill Sarah or John Connor because if they were dead, then what reason would there be for the Terminator to be sent back in time in the first time. It creates a paradox. So because of this, you know the hero has to succeed and make it to the future so that the time travel could occur. Long story short, you never worry for the heroes and if you never worry, you never really care.

This movie also feels long. It has the characteristic over-two-hour length of all Nolan films but there were points where I could feel the movie dragging. The whole point of this movie is the idea of travelling faster than the speed of light but Interstellar feels heavy and sluggish.

It’s slowly paced because the suspense is, needlessly, being drawn out but in all honesty, this movie could have done with a forty-five minute maybe even hour haircut. It’s length isn’t justified by the needs of the plot. A lot of the time, you’re watching someone push buttons or wait for a door to open. I can do without those scenes hey.

The movie is visually great to watch. It doesn’t quite have the spectacular cinematography or scale of other space films such as Gravity but it does well and the camera angles chosen at times are inspired and make for some great shots.

This is probably the least enjoyable Nolan movie I’ve watched. I don’t think he has the eye for sci-fi and he never really brings his style to the movie. I mean he even puts the title of the movie at the beginning instead of just before the closing credits. It’s not a horrible movie actually, it just doesn’t quite give you enough answers for the amount of questions it asks. I’m still trying to figure out the time travel aspect of it.

Overall, it’s worth watching just to see if you can figure out but other than that it doesn’t offer much. 6/10

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