Interstellar (2014) (PG-13)
Save the planet.
Christopher Nolan's newest movie is a work in science, it is a work of family, and it is a work of love. It's a story cosmic in scale, yet always and overbearingly intimate in its emotion. Fathers and daughters, symbiosis with nature, and the paranormal—all are featured in what was billed as Nolan's most complex movie to date. The science, if there was any whatsoever, dissolves as the movie unsteadily rockets towards its zenith and in its place we get nothing short of magic...and I mean that in the worst possible way.
This is really hard for me to say because I am such a huge Nolan fan-boy and I was so afraid that sooner or later the director would come up against something that was too much for him—"Interstellar" is just this movie. Yet I don't even commend Nolan's ambition for the movie, even though by all means the space sequences in the film are some of the more dazzling moments included. Instead, I fault his campy script, his excessive need for sentimentality, and his worst plot (completely with enormous holes) to date. At its running time of almost 170 minutes, "Interstellar" is both far too long and too short.
Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a farmer, because that's what the Earth needs right now. It is some indiscernible time in the future, perhaps fifty years from now, and the technological wave that we are experiencing has ceased. Why? People started to run out of food since the soil has become too toxic for some crops and that's why we now need farmers more than we need engineers. A single father of two children, Murph (Mackenzie Foy) and Tom (Timothée Chalamet), Cooper seems to struggle under the weight of parenting without his wife present. Don't worry unless you were concerned that we wouldn't get the details of her death, because we do when Cooper attends a parent/teacher meeting and the principal discusses his daughter, Murph. It turns out that she got in a fist-fight with her schoolmates over whether or not the moon landing was faked. Cooper applauds his daughter's spunk, works in some awkward lines about how his wife died (totally unnecessary), and then takes his family to a baseball game.
But life can't always be about cracker-jacks and home-runs...there is a storm brewing. There is a finite amount of time left on Earth's biological clock and it's quickly fading. Through long and strenuous and stupidly insane ways, Cooper finds himself as part of a mission to save the Earth. The mission is headed up by stereotypical bearded wise-guy and astrophysicist Dr. Brand (Michael Caine). Brand's daughter, Amelia (Anne Hathaway) is also part of the actual crew who are looking for a suitable planet to relocate Earth's population to.
Yet this comes at a price: Cooper is going to have to leave his daughter, who despises him for going away. They part on harsh terms and Cooper prays that he will be able to see her again, even as he is whipped through space towards some distant galaxy.
Wormholes, black holes, time relativity—there's a lot of science going on here that is actually quite enjoyable and somehow the film manages to make us not believe anything that's going on. Why else would there be the excessive need for cryo-sleep without explanation, or the distortion of quantum mechanics to suit a story? These are typical of science fiction movies and Nolan does not manage to achieve even a slight edge over his competitors.
What is key to keep in mind is that Nolan is a huge fan of Kubrick and "2001: A Space Odyssey. "Interstellar" is a buddy-piece to "2001: A Space Odyssey" (though, ironically, it owes more to "Signs") and it proves that some movies never age and never falter from their original power. There are HAL references, silent sequences in space, and (very surprisingly) the degradation of the human mind under duress. Nolan can't pull off a theme like the madness lying underneath and yet he tries to so hard and he fails even harder.
As much as Nolan admires Kubrick, he also admires Malick and here is actually where the film suffers the most. Abandoning the sleek and sophisticated, simple yet complex style of storytelling seen in his previous movies, Nolan tries to do what only Malick can do: make the audience surrender to the emotion. There is too much science, too much coherence for this to work; yet Nolan blindly stumbles into the vacuums of his making and paints the film with blood, sweat, and lots of tears.
Sorry if I snobbed out there for a minute.
Because this is movie with such an enormous scale, you would expect a certain shock and awe to be included; but Nolan is more concerned with his characters. He likes to make us wait, to let some silence sit in and I applaud him for that. What doesn't work in these situations is that what the characters are saying is complete and utter insanity. There is backstory we don't need, random character development, and certainly a lot of "red shirt" moments.
It's in the personal relationships that the movie fails (also in its plot, but that's another story). For instance, Cooper does have two children; yet for all intents and purposes, Murph is the only important character here. Tom is written in as a sympathetic hook for viewers and as a set piece, he serves no purpose whatsoever.
The conversations between Murph and Cooper are all too ideal and cutesy-cutesy and they made me long for the scenes in "Inception" when parents and children had no contact.
Robots, surprise cameos, and the power of love (bleh)—"Interstellar" throws everything and the kitchen sink into the film.
I mentioned it before, the film turns into magic. Nolan backed himself into a corner and it seems like he just threw caution to the wind. The science goes out the window, the character development serves no purpose, and we can get the picture-perfect Nolan ending.
It's vomit inducing, because it could have been so good and it is far from anything of the sort.
Hans Zimmer's organ-inspired score is beautiful and at times it seems way out of place.
Cooper's journey is episodic, with fade-outs adding chapters to his saga and each section is more bizarre and erasable than the next. McConaughey does an excellent job and shows up his co-stars (something I never thought that I would say); but when you're working with a script this bad, it's surprising that these actors will most likely escape unscathed.
Just because of its visual prowess, its colorful scenes, some people have defended the film. It doesn't deserve this. Nolan is far too talented to let flash-and-bang moments be the only redeeming quality to his film.
There are so many cliches and so much stupid dialogue, that eye-rolling ensues.
If it's been unclear, Nolan's movie is a "2001" homage, a fault in its own stars, and a complete miscalculation. It seems it divided itself by zero.
Loud, beautiful at times, and highly faulted, "Insterstellar" burns up on re-entry.
Posted by Micah Jones