It’s been a while but I’m back with a review with one of the most highly anticipated films of 2014. We’ve all been waiting to see what Nolan would deliver in his post-Batman career. Now, Interstellar has finally arrived and once again Nolan definitely delivers an epic piece of cinema.
However, does it work?
Well, that’s a very hard question to answer with only one viewing. Nolan is one of the ballsiest filmmakers working today, taking the most ridiculous of concepts and somehow translating them seamlessly to screen. Whether it be telling a story entirely in reverse–Memento– or having an entire story take place in a dream within dream — Inception. This time it appears Nolan has bit off entirely more than he can chew in hopes of topping himself once again. That said, the experience of Interstellar is an admirable effort from a director trying to keep originality in Hollywood.
The film centers on Cooper– a father and ex pilot for NASA who is living his remaining days on Earth as a farmer. Cooper’s only dedication in life now is to protect his family as the world around him is slowly dying. McConaughey once again delivers on every level with his performance. The film calls for some major emotional moments and his ability to sell the stakes appears effortless. His daughter Murph– who was named after Murphy’s Law– is really close to her Father, and shares a lot of the same interest in exploration and science as her father does. Towards the start, Murph discusses a strange Ghost that keeps moving things in her room, to which her father replies that there’s no scientific evidence of ghosts.
One day, during a dust storm, Murph accidentally leaves the window open to her room. Dust blows on the floor in a strange way, and a message appears on the ground. Cooper now thinks there is something legitimate to his daughter’s ghost theory, but is uncertain if it’s actually a ghost. Once he decodes the message, he discovers a strange set of coordinates which leads him to the last remaining NASA headquarters on earth. From here, you can guess what comes next. Somehow, the folks at NASA believe that Coop himself was chosen by an anomaly to take the journey into space, and find an answer to Earth’s survival.
Christopher Nolan and brother Jonathan Nolan do an exceptional job with the first act setting up the family dynamic. All the Earth sequences in the beginning are solidly crafted, especially with Cooper’s son, who is somewhat neglected as a character later. The biggest issue with the writing of Interstellar, is that it suffers from wanting to do way too much. Take Spider-Man 3 for example, that film struggled because it wanted to shove way too many villains in one film. In Interstellar, the same principle applies, only the villains are ideas and themes. Once we hit the extremely overwhelming third act, so much is crammed at you at once, much of the character development is then sacrificed for the sake of plot points, and thematic questions. And sometimes, an idea doesn’t entirely make sense. This does not mean that multiple viewings would not solve this problem. The case is usually typical for a Christopher Nolan experience.
On the technical side,everyone is MVP on this movie. Seeing this on a 70MM projector is an absolute must. The images and scope of different scenes in space will absolutely knock your socks off. I will admit, at times I missed the signature look of Wally Pfister, but Hoyte Van Hoytema does a solid job handling all the IMAX footage. Hans Zimmer surprised me this time around with delivering a much more subtle score rather than the usual pounding orchestra we expect. This time he hammers the musical emotion right when the scene calls for it and the result makes your heart race a million miles an hour.
Also, this is probably the most visual effects heavy film Nolan has ever made. Usually he likes to keep things practical, and one can tell he attempted that as much as possible. That said, Interstellar definitely does an amazing job at making you wonder at times what is practical and what is cgi. I’m dying to see the behind the scenes work when the film is released.
Technicals aside, Interstellar still falls flat on being truly a great film. Some of the messages of “love over science” become a little melodramatic in moments. The relationship between Cooper and his daughter didn’t land on all fours the way it should have towards the end. Part of this could have been because the film got too involved with its own intelligence. Either way, the huge ship that is Interstellar did not have a perfect landing.
Casey Affleck’s character seems to be the most wasted of all the cast in this film. Minor Spoiler Ahead… Affleck who plays Cooper’s son all grown up randomly almost becomes an antagonist in the movie out of nowhere. I’m not sure why the film chose to create another stake using Affleck when the story itself had plenty going on to keep you invested. In fact, I would argue you could have removed Affleck altogether from the film, and it would have helped make room for more development of the father and daughter dynamic.
The Spoiler Zone
Now,I realize it may sound like I didn’t enjoy Interstellar, but don’t be fooled. I really love what these guys tried to accomplish here. One of the most haunting aspects I’ve found about this story is the idea of time and space taking a toll of the life you once had. Watching McConaughey react to not seeing his daughter grow up, as well as seeing he had a grand son was just heartbreaking. The fact you could land somewhere and every hour would equal 30 plus years back on earth is a terrifying concept, and one I believe only Nolan himself could accomplish on screen. Also, the ghost payoff was definitely a head scratcher but an idea that was just brilliantly executed. It almost makes you wonder if that’s what ghosts really are in this life. The film was not without its flaws but the balls they had to try and execute these ideas was just overwhelmingly admirable.