Writer-Director Christopher Nolan returns to the big screen with a new mindwarping journey being hailed by some as his latest masterpiece and others as a gargantuan confusing mess called INTERSTELLAR.
The film doesn’t give us any information on what specific year it takes place but it’s clear that it’s sometime in the future when the Earth is dying out. Matthew McConaughey plays Cooper, a Midwest farmer/widower and former NASA pilot who lives with his two kids Murph and Tom as well as father-in-law Donald (John Lithgow) in an old house near the cornfields…
The beginning sets up the strong, tender father/daughter bond between Coop and Murph who are the emotional core (kinda sorta) running throughout the story. When Coop decides to help save humanity by venturing out into space where a wormhole is, so he and his crew (Anne Hathaway, Wes Bentley, David Gyasi) can try to find sustainable planets for the human race to live, it starts to get a little…tricky. As the shuttle hurtles through the cosmos, we’re taken on a trip that leaves the characters and we the audience wondering what the hell is going on more often than not.
I’ve been a longtime fan of Christopher Nolan from movies like The Prestige, The Dark Knight Trilogy and Inception. With Interstellar I went in expecting to love the movie completely and, well, that’s not really what happened. Up front, I enjoyed the various suspenseful action sequences and several times as I was watching it felt like Nolan was picking up from where Kubrick left off in 2001 with his use of total silence and majestic music cues as well as the walking talking sweat lockers TARS and CASE, which would be the HAL 9000 stand-ins (albeit not in an evil way). There’s also moments on Earth that reminded me of beautiful films like Malick’s Days of Heaven. Although, I thought of films like Ridley Scott’s Prometheus and the recent work of M. Night Shamalamadingdong as well, which isn’t meant as a compliment.
Matthew “Awright, Awright, Awright” McConaughey has been so outstanding in his work lately and he doesn’t dissapoint in his portrayal of Coop. My main complaint is with the other cast members, most of whom were not particularly good in their roles. The emotional scenes in this film felt either fake or oddly misguided and came off more like a Lifetime sci-fi soap opera. Instead of caring about these people like I was supposed to, I was outside looking in the entire time and didn’t feel much of anything for them. At several points I actually found myself laughing at moments which were not meant to be funny. Things like someone dying, a suspenseful fight on a distant planet or characters crying uncontrollably made me either chuckle, blankly stare or shake my head. There was a clear disconnect here for some reason. You could say my “space pod did not connect with the docking bay” to use a sci-fi analogy. If I’m in sync with the characters I can often overlook the more outrageous parts of stories like this one but sadly, that mission was a failure upon takeoff.
While I think Interstellar has some very ambitious ideas and it’s always great that Nolan keeps trying to push the boundaries of cinema, as I’ve said many times before, there has to be more to a movie than just the eye candy and atmosphere. Otherwise it’s like going to a party where everyone’s in on the joke except you. Compared to another recent space film like GRAVITY (which I was over the moon for) this movie didn’t have the same kind of impact on me. I can’t say when I’ll revisit Interstellar again, maybe in a few years. I hope I’ll see it in a different, much better light next time. I dearly love the science fiction genre, which is why I’m surprised I didn’t appreciate this movie more on all levels than I did.