I remember when Inception was released among all that ridiculous praise it got. Then I remember watching the movie and thinking 'Really? That's it? That's the movie people give 10/10 to'? Interstellar is in comparison so boring, dumb and irritating I would have gladly see Inception three times instead of it.
Hell, I'd gladly make that damn spinning top my screen-saver.
Behold Interstellar, the film that manages to make that gorgeous Dylan
Thomas' poem annoying because Nolan just has to have it repeated several
times until you go 'oh my, is it a metaphor for the characters? Thank
you Christopher for assuming I'm daft and making sure the poem is
repeated enough of times so that a simple moron like me understands your
The film is praised for being ambitious. When that ambition amounts to movie this silly, you really shouldn't praise it. In Nolan's case ambition goes with having an ego the size of space itself. Is he a good director? Yes. Is he a good writer? Absolutely not. Nolan's characters are always painted with insanely thick brush and the only reason these people are coming off as real people and not caricatures is thanks to actors.
Nolan and his brother Jonathan who also co-wrote the script here also have the tendency to have incredibly lazy third acts to their movies - to name examples a James Bond movie rip-off in Inception and the whole Harvey Dent situation in The Dark Knight which felt rushed and so easy (not to mention the awful make up). Interstellar's climax, while easily the most consistently emotional part of the film, is just an embarrassment to witness.
There's also not much originality in this film. Earth is dying and we need to find a new planet. That's it. That's the set up. But the movie wastes what felt like 10 years on that set up. The first somewhat interesting thing that happens is the actual launch into space. But it's still a disappointing scene. Up until that point it's just a bunch of exposition, telegraphing the plot twist at least 5 times and incredibly ugly cinematography. It's dark, it's shot without any imagination and the scenes at the farm are presented as dully as they are written.
After the launch - and that was a big shock for me - the film's visual side improved only slightly. That the script will be lame, I knew going in. It's Nolan after all. But this? A film of this budget and this is its visual side? There are couple nice shots here and there but honestly only the terrific sequence of docking of the spinning, disintegrating Endurance is worth seeing in the theater. It's the film's peak and its only unforgettable moment where for 2 minutes everything works.
That sequence is also the only time Zimmer's score shone. I don't know why people say it's louder than dialogue - unfortunately I
had no problem hearing the lines Nolan brothers came up with. The claims regarding Zimmer's music calling this 'his best work' and 'best soundtrack of the year' are simply incomprehensible to me. It's not even in top 3 of his best work for Nolan, let alone his overall compositions. Inception at least had a variety of memorable melodies that constantly added to the movie. Here it's just Zimmer playing at being Phantom of the Opera and soundtrack kinda sorta just being there. It blends too much with everything else without actually adding anything to the movie.
In fact only the terrific "Mountains", played in one of the very few moments in the film that had genuine tension and excitement, is brilliant both as its used in the movie and as a stand alone track.
But the film's most lovely emotional moment has no sound at all - it's in the very good messages from home moment when the camera cuts to show us Cooper who is crying hysterically. The sound is gone many times in the film, to illustrate that 'there is no sound in space' fact that we heard about so often when Gravity was premiering last year. But it's a musing, it's a part of trivia, it's Nolan trying to make it all realistic while he can, before bending the laws of everything in third act and having the audacity to have stuff like 'Love is the one thing that transcends time and space' said to us in what is supposed to be a smart science fiction film.
But this sequence - the messages from home moment - was wonderful. What
got to me was how we are told about things, horrible things and they
have an impact - we see Cooper's son with his son and then we find out
that the child died. We aren't being told what happened (at that point
of the movie) but we see Cooper's son broken up about it. That felt more
powerful to me that any amount of Amelia's words about the power of
love. That was real, profound, emotional. Not gimmickry with which the film
is filled, until the point you want to vomit.
From technical stand point, something that should be the film's saving grace, the film is not good. And the story? The idea that there are other galaxies out there with potentially habitable worlds is fascinating but leave it to the Nolan brothers to use that set up for a ridiculously dumb and cliched plot with a scientist going nuts. Really, that's what you came up with?
See there is this big secret that Matt Damon was even in this movie. Who the fuck cares, really? Why make it a big secret that a well known actor has a cameo here? What's the point? Especially that other than Damon's dedicated acting his sequences are just awful. It feels like a filler moment, a distraction. That time could be spent on something far more interesting than predictable tale of Dr. Mann.
I was actually trying so hard not to laugh when Damon proceeded to climb downhill after McConaughey in super slow speed while mumbling some nonsense at him.
But it's all brilliant writing comparing to the level of pure insanity that is the bookshelf sequence. Stuff like 'they created three dimensional scene to help you understand their five dimension worlds' is being uttered. McConaughey is floating around in a recreation of his daughter's room, multiplied. He communicates with her by throwing books on the floor. He then teaches her quantum mechanics with the use of a watch.
Believe me - it's actually MUCH dumber than it sounds.
I was absolutely speechless. This is being compared to Shyamalan's twists by many but I consider it to be a great insult to the guy - no twist of his was that fundamentally moronic. Actual physicists were consulted when that movie was being made and yet no one told Nolan 'Dude, this is fucking awful idea'? I know nothing about physics but here's the thing - as a movie goer, one that is collage educated no less, that movie didn't make it easy for me to buy this even with this much exposition. No, no - it didn't do anything to make me buy this idea. And there is another issue - I simply don't care if it's possible. The film has not interested me enough to even research that idea.
Listen, I'm far from being a cynic. In fact it's been 18 days and I'm still lamenting over the fact that Begin Again did not have a romantic ending. I believe love is a genuine miracle, one that makes PEOPLE do amazing things. But the idea that it can actually influence dimensions is something so profoundly silly no amount of explanations and reasoning could convince me.
Given the ludicrous rewrites of the 2008 - and far superior - draft
of the script Nolan ego pushed him to have I'm inclined to think nobody
involved knew what they were doing. For example - in the first draft of
the script there is a romance and even a sex scene between Brand and
Cooper. Given the story's ideas on how powerful love is - the ending
made sense - excuse me I misspoke - the ending made more sense - than
the one in the actual movie, where Cooper is essentially going after
this woman who he doesn't have much connection to, who was in love with
someone else. It's all preposterous, no matter how lovely the ending looked on screen. You think about it for more than 30 seconds, it collapses on its ass.
We actually had Jonathan Nolan say that the wormhole that would allow Cooper to reach Amelia is now closed. So what feels like a hopeful, albeit profoundly retarded ending in the film is in actuality - what? Cooper just spinning around in space? Amelia being on new planet alone? Have they put in more than 5 minutes to actually talk this ending through?
Say it with me - INCOMPETENCE.
See had they left the romance arc in this version of the story, LOVE would probably create a new wormhole and angels and unicorns would carry Cooper to Amelia magically. But Nolan, in his tin hollow chest, has zero understating for passion so he wouldn't know how to film a sex scene to begin with.
The acting is good from everyone really, but Jessica Chastain is terribly inconsistent. She is completely unbelievable as her character in the scenes where she doesn't look constipated with rage, when the script asks her to be relaxed and curious she simply isn't. She can be so sympathetic in her roles but she plays Murphy with perpetual bitch face on. It was impossible to care for this girl - she is jaded and in her sweeter moments I completely didn't buy what she was selling.
Edward and Bella's daughter outacted the shit out of her as little Murphy. Mackenzie Foy was
especially amazing in the moment Murphy realizes Cooper has no idea
when - or even if - he is coming back. That was heartbreaking.
In fact Casey Affleck who had far less screentime is so much better than Chastain here too. Wes Bentley is also really good as is David Gyasi. Michael Caine gets stuck with a thankless role with ridiculous twist at the end of it. There's also miscast Topher Grace whose character brings nothing into the movie. No, sorry - he participates in a ridiculous moment where poor Jessica Chastain gets to shout 'Eureka!.
Oh, the horror!
Anne Hathaway is doing beautifully even with all the limitations her character has to struggle with thanks to Nolan's deplorable treatment of women again. In this movie love is a force more powerful than science. Yet when Amelia tells the crew to go to the planet that is more likely to be a habitable world, Cooper uses love against her - someone she loves is on that planet so obviously she gets treated like stupid, emotional, untrustworthy female while a man is the one who makes a decision.
That the script has absolutely no consistency is one thing. That Nolan is being a misogynistic prick while simultaneously turning otherwise sympathetic Cooper into an asshole? Now, that is unforgivable.
Still, Hathaway hits all the right notes and creates a courageous and interesting character that you root for. But the film belongs to Matthew McConaughey, whose performance is the best thing about it and in all honesty I think without his dedicated work, that thing would be completely unwatchable. I think Matthew deserves Oscar nomination, because for him to actually create something so good while having this script to work with, it's truly an accomplishment.
McConaughey makes us care about his character and sells the film's most impossible moments like him shouting in agony for Murphy to notice him. He is game for the film's insanity and brings in his entire talent and charm to bring this character to life. Without him that ride wouldn't be worth taking at all.
Interstellar indeed doesn't "go gently into that good night" - it's inconsistent, heavy with exposition, tiresome with all the ridiculous twists and turns and disappointing visual side. Everything in this movie is laboured to the point it lacks any kind of finesse, flow, room to breathe.
Had all those years ago Interstellar was released in the place of Inception, it would have impact, even with all these issues. But almost exactly a year ago we saw a science fiction movie that proved that all you need to have to make a good space movie is a talented cinematographer, director who is not obsessed with technology to the point of it clouding his judgment, two good actors and an elegant, simple, coherent script.
In the cinematic world post Gravity, Interstellar is simply forgettable.
Interstellar (169 min, 2014)
Plot: A team of explorers travel through a wormhole in an attempt to find a potentially habitable planet that will sustain humanity.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writers: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain