Monday, November 10, 2014

Film Review: Christopher Nolan's Interstellar

Christopher Nolan, at times, has tried to be Lang and Welles, Leone and Hitchcock, all with varying degrees of success. Now he takes a stab at being Tarkovsky or Kubrick or Spielberg, or whomever he is trying to be in Interstellar, and in this endeavor, the director fails oh so miserably. Nolan claims to be inspired by Spielberg, saying he wants to recreate the magic of Close Encounters, and is obviously channeling something from Kubrick's 2001, but really, if one were to compare this film to those of the past, this is Nolan's Solaris. Both films begin with their respective cameras eying up an Earth bound country home. Both films have a man leaving loved ones behind (in both films, an old man and a little girl) to travel into space. Both films show a tortured soul watching videos from home. Both films show what could be hallucinations or actual time-warped events. Both films show the vast emptiness, and loneliness of space. But still, no matter his skill as a filmmaker, and Nolan has made some pretty good films in his time, Interstellar comes nowhere close to the depths of Tarkovsky's classic film. But enough about the comparisons, and rather obvious ones at that, to other films, how exactly does Interstellar stack up on its own terms?

Interstellar is Nolan's ninth feature as a director. The British born auteur has given us some early, visceral indie projects (The Following and Memento) and some intriguing Hollywood fare (The Prestige and his remake of Insomnia, a film no better or worse than the original) but the guy is most known for his Dark Knight Trilogy and the highly over-praised Inception. Now along comes Interstellar, a film that gives Nolan a hat trick for disappointing this critic. Yes, the director has some intriguing ideas up his proverbial sleeve, but lately these intriguing ideas have fallen flat as can be. After Inception, a film that pretends to be much more clever than it really is, The Dark Knight Rises, where it seems as if the director (and probably Batman as well) is just going through the so-called motions, and now Interstellar, a film that seems to have no idea where it is even going, one begins to wonder just what they saw in Nolan in the first place. But I digress, as I am edging back toward the comparative notes of earlier. On its own terms, Interstellar has the aforementioned intriguing ideas in veritable spades, it just doesn't know what to do with such ideas. much like in Inception, we are given a repetitive series of explanations as to just what is going on...and on...and on. Yes, we get it. The Earth is dying and we need to find a new home in a new galaxy. Sure, there are some real pretty special effects happening here, but must you explain how relativity works with every chance you get? I think once might be enough. Can't you just tell a story, and leave it at that? The film could have been shortened by twenty minutes if you took out all the time the characters stopped to explain things to each other. And then we have that damn Dylan Thomas quote that we keep hearing repeated, just in case we missed it the first few times. But now I am ranting, so I digress one final time.

The film stars Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey (I love saying that descriptive) as a one-time test pilot turned farmer in the dying days of the planet, who gets mysterious, possibly other-worldly messages leading him to the hidden stronghold of the now desanctioned NASA, whereupon he is immediately enlisted to pilot a spaceship through a wormhole next to Saturn, in order to find an inhabitable planet for the human race to survive. We also get Anne Hathaway (also an Oscar winner), Jessica Chastain (Oscar nominee), Casey Affleck (another Oscar nominee), David Gyasi, Wes Bentley, Michael Caine (another Oscar winner, and this time a two-timer), and a few surprise (read: uncredited) tagalongs (one of which may be yet another Oscar winner). We also get that aforementioned relativity, and how just a few hours on one planet near a black hole will equal 23 years back on Earth. We get a lot of posing and posturing, and oft-times rather ham-handed acting from a group of actors who should be better, much much better. There are a few particularly unwatchable moments from Hathaway, Chastain, and even McConaughey, that make us wonder if these are even the same actors who have done so much better work in other films. And then there is that ending. Not to spoil anything (though the whole film smells a bit spoiled) let's just say that this ending is one of the most ridiculously contrived pieces of cinematic hogwash this critic has seen in some time - and this critic has seen a lot of ridiculously contrived pieces of cinematic hogwash in his day. And I haven't even touched on how Nolan can suck the humanity out of anything he makes now. Maybe another time. So yeah, that's what I think. I am also thinking that I want the old Chris Nolan back. I want the man who made Memento, or even The Dark Knight. I want that guy back. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.



  1. hmmmm-I am certain it will get many Oscar nods but i am not sold on this film. It all feels like" I am an important film with an important message and important actors so you must like me" type of film. I can't judge anything until I actually see it but Anne Hathaway is in it so i get a little worried

  2. I see some Oscar nods in its future, but I don't think director or actor are going to be in there. mostly tech awards and maybe BP, since there can be up to ten of those.