“Overwhelming, Immersive, Bold, Beautiful”: Interstellar Has It All?

Who’s “they”?

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“We used to look up at the sky and wonder about our place in the stars. Now we just look down and wonder about our place in the dirt” – Coop.   

The waiting is over: Interstellar is now upon us. Was it worth it?Christopher Nolan has proven to be a reliable and visionary auteur thus far, but – just to be on the safe side -has employed the consultative services of theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, also credited as Executive Producer.

In a future, too-near-for-comfort, food shortages and epic dust storms are threatening humankind. Before you can say: “preposterous plot contrivance,” Space Cowboy Matthew McConaughey – known here as Coop – (reduced to emergency farm duty) stumbles on the last remnants of NASA (aka Michael Caine) who need him, cos he’s “the best pilot we ever had” to lead a highly improbable mission which nobody can afford.

So, in order to save the planet, the best option is to… find an alternative planet to thrive on (i.e. systematically deplete all its natural resources)? Fortunately, the Endurance has… been manufactured already? Not even tried and tested… but this farmer can transport you to a wormhole near Saturn  (…?) …which someone, somewhere, has just discovered…?

Excuse me, there are black holes and wormholes to be had… but no one warned me that there would be plot-holes-a-plenty!

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“Most film-makers think small or medium. Not Christopher Nolan… his new picture is his biggest: biggest event, biggest spectacle, biggest disappointment” – Peter Bradshaw.

One overwhelming aspect about Interstellar is the fact that Christopher Nolan has made what no one had expected: a dud movie.

With Coop the family man tormented by the ordeal of having to abandon his kids, this material actually manages to invoke Homer’s The Odyssey as well as inevitable comparisons with Kubrick’s justly revered masterpiece. A perfect premise for Nolan to create a deep and empathetic drama, but… where is it?!

The mission is doomed, of course, especially if the crew of multi-million dolar vessel have to resort to paper sketches to explain where they think they should go and how to get there. Jeez…!

Not only that, if stuck millions of miles away, subjected to Tomboy Hathaway talking out of her wormhole prattling on about Love in the Fifth Dimension, then Starlord Brad would rather stay on Terra Firma, inhaling dust at the local baseball game. In space, no one can hear you groan.

One golden opportunity missed: the two droids could have turned out (as was hoped) to be the most charming and amusing droids since Silent Running – or R2-D2 for that matter, but nah, TARS and CASE were nothing more than bland and cumbersome boxes.

And what about that old chestnut: characterization? It is ironic to think that Coop travels all that distance to save humanity, yet there seems so precious little of it to be found amidst these rotten/burning fields. Honestly, take his own son for instance – no really! Please, someone, for the love of corn, just take him…

Which brings us conveniently to the deadly duo who wrote the damn thing.

Christopher – and his brother Jonathon – Nolan were responsible for churning out the painfully inadequate “script.” So, guys: out of the $165 million budget, neither of you could spend any of it on Writing For Movies courses? Or hire me to produce a vastly superior Space Opera?!

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“This means flying through a wormhole near Saturn to repopulate the Earth with Hathaway’s frozen eggs…  achieved by strapping McConaughey to a huge metal sphincter and firing him through a shimmering anus in the sky. I feel ridiculous just writing this” – Camilla Long, Sunday Times.

Honestly, if there was anyone ready and waiting to embrace this movie it was me, but Nolan has not concocted a satisfying mix of mainstream physics and emotional intensity. So what good points excited my critical faculties?

Amidst all its faults, grandiose shots, such as the black hole, and Endurance gently gliding past the gargantuan beauty that is Saturn and its rings looked suitably awesome, as did the monumental wall of water caught in mid-torrent.

Yet considering how this is the first major space-travel movie in ages, recommended to be viewed on IMAX, these shots should have been more numerous. Of the woefully scant glimpses of interstellar imagery on display, the shots could and should have lasted much longer.

The scene where Coop confronts his children’s tutors, gobsmacked about the fiddled text books now stating how the moon landings were faked (by Kubrick, we presume?) in order to bankrupt the Soviet Union makes for a particularly amusing scene. 

Jessica Chastain puts in a notable performance as the disgruntled farmer/astonaut’s genius daughter as an adult, agonising over the inanities of the script as much as the selfish abandonment by her father.

The shot of Coop racing away from the farmhouse, overlaid with the countdown to launch and Hans Zimmer’s throbbing organ (music) reverberating around the cinema was particularly dramatic. Not only did these elements herald the start of the mission but signalled the moment at which his kids’ hearts were broken.

The location filming (in Iceland) provided some ideal otherworldly cinematography but after Jason Bourne exploded in space (fantastic shots of debris, at least) all hope, credibility and interest was lost. While Coop screamed at Murph (and himself?!) through the gaps in her bookcase, some chortles of incredulity emanated from the back row…

It’s funny how on Waterworld one hour equals seven years “back home.” As soon as the end credits abruptly raced into action after three disappointing hours, it felt like my brain had devolved into wasabi, and my bum had gone numb (lost in another dimension perhaps?) over the course of twenty one horrendous and wretched years.

Some of the critics this week prove difficult to comprehend: Interstellar is not “an instant classic”; it is bereft of any “mesmerising” moments; quite simply, there is no sense of wonder which was bountiful in his Inception, and it is nowhere near the giddy magnificent heights of The Dark Knight. Moreover, for once, we have even been deprived of seeing McConaughey’s pecs! 

Bah!!

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We’ll find a way. We always do.

 

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24 thoughts on ““Overwhelming, Immersive, Bold, Beautiful”: Interstellar Has It All?

  1. Controversial opinion man, interesting to hear from someone who genuinely didn’t enjoy it though. Have to point out however, most of the ‘plot holes’ regarding the set up of the mission and how Coop discovered it were explained.

  2. Thanks for your Comment, James.
    Good to hear from u again!
    I was really looking forward to this movie, & REALLY tried to get into it.
    Th science behind it is undeniably fascinating, but do you truly believe that some – if any – people will be inspired by this film to go & study th science behind it?
    Cheers!

  3. I didn’t mind the plot holes. It was the way the narrative devolved into a completely different film by the end – all based on emotion. The problem? I felt nothing. There isn’t anything to connect us to these characters. Coop was in such a hurry to leave his daughter (and his son, whom he barely acknowledges). I didn’t feel his longing.

  4. While I liked it a bit better than you did…

    Your points are…on point. My complaint was the two fellow astronauts who were given no development. However, I didn’t realize how much of a missed opportunity the robots were.

  5. Thanks for your Comment, superhero!
    Yes, I wld have liked to have seen more development on that front; they really put the ‘minor’ into minor characters these days, don’t they?
    I thot they were going to get inevitably upstaged by the droids… but then they were hardly well-conceived either! What the…?!
    Cheers, man!

  6. Haha, you certainly went all the way there. I liked the critic’s quotes 😀
    I read from someoneone, I think it was Peter Travers, that Nolan’s films were usually not human enough and oddly cold, but this, this was all diferent, yay, and I just thought… Um… No? I mean, Cooper must be nice guy, but none of the people on that spaceship are even on the mission because they want to save humanity. And the thing with the frozen eggs… I just kept thinking ‘is Anne Hathaway going to repopulate a planet by herself then?”
    It’s a lot of what-ifs. the Endurance for example is our last spaceship, but it doesn’t work. Where did the money in this film even come from? It’s like they concentrated on the physics and disregarded everything else.
    Wow, this got long, sorry, I got into it.

  7. No worries!
    I got into it as well – thanks for such a great long Comment!
    Yeah, great physics, shame about th dialogue… or the characterisation (or lack of it).
    Just hope Nolan gets back on form for his next big screen venture!
    Cheers!

  8. I’m sorry Interstellar didn’t work out for you. I quite liked it but I guess like most movies it’s not for everybody.

    Still, I might just have something for you if it’s any interest. I’ve been running a blogathon to go along with the release of Interstellar, and seeing as you didn’t seem to like it, perhaps you’d enjoy a chance to try and put together a more interesting Interstellar mission of your own:

    http://hitchcocksworld.blogspot.ca/2014/10/voyage-to-stars-blogathon.html

  9. Even though I really enjoyed the film, there were parts that definitely felt odd and out of place. It seemed like they didn’t know whether to make a film devoted to the science or to the characters. By the time we get to Anne Hathaway’s little speech, the love theme is really in your face, initially it was weird but I found it quite neat after awhile. I understand all the criticisms this film gets but for some reason they don’t annoy me, I guess I enjoyed the spectacle of it all rather than the story itself. Because I don’t believe you would just leave your daughter on her death bed at an instant ha. Nice review 🙂

  10. Thanks for your Comment, Rozeminho!
    Shame when the story can’t match th spectacle.
    Little speech?! Yeah, Anne really Hathaway with words, doesn’t she? hahaha!
    Cheers!

  11. I loved Interstellar. Liked it a lot in fact, sad that you didn’t enjoy it much Brad. But i do second that certain parts were definitely out of place. Nice review anyways. Keep going

  12. Hello There. I found your weblog the use of msn. That is a very smartly written article. I’ll be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your helpful information. Thanks for the post. I will definitely return.

  13. I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great. I do not know who you are but definitely you’re going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already 😉 Cheers!|

  14. Nice review! This is definitely one of Nolan’s more polarizing films; most people I’ve talked to either really love it or really hate it. While I’m in the “love it” camp, I always enjoy reading your thoughts about movies! You’ve got some great zingers in here! 😉

    • Thank u v much, Ash!
      Made up for a wasted trip to th cinema by piling all my dismay and disappointment into this Post – 1 of my more successful thot pieces!
      Iceland did look lovely tho!
      Cheers!

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