Christopher Nolan what am I going to do with you? Your movies are always big on ideas and concepts but somehow manage to fall apart in the 3rd act – usually when it calls for you to direct an action scene. I’m almost always glad I went on the journey but ultimately disappointed when I arrive at the destination. Interstellar starts off great but falls under the weight of its own ideas.
My issue with Interstellar is that Nolan goes out of his way to try and explain stuff – poorly I might add, that probably doesn’t need explanation and fails to explain plot points that does. That is unless I fell asleep and completely missed key points. Regardless the film has large gaping holes.
The critic screening was held in an iMax theater that featured the newish Dolby Atmos sound system and wow, WOW. The strong Hans Zimmer score has a tendency to overpower the film, it screams at you to watch or pay attention to specific moments, while the rest of the audio design sucks you into the world. When the spaceship takes off, the theater literally rumbles as the space ship’s engines roar to life.
Set sometime in the future, the world is on its last legs. The human race is in a struggle to survive, the world’s food supply has somehow gone bad and the only viable crop left is corn. There’s no more room for people to dream, it’s all about being caretakers of the limited resources that are left.
In this caretaker world, farmers are needed more than dreamers like Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and his daughter Murph (played by three different actresses Mackenzie Foy, Jessica Chastain and Ellen Burstyn).
The cause of this new bleaker Earth is never clearly explained, however I would assume it’s related to some form of radical climate change as we get a sequence where a deadly dust storm descends on Cooper’s small town and threatens the crops.
Somehow said dust storm leaves behind coordinates that lead Cooper and his young daughter to Norad where he discovers the last of earth’s dreamers – lead by former Nasa scientist lead by Professor Brand (Michael Caine) who wants a team of astronauts lead by his daughter Brand (Anne Hathaway).
I’m a sucker for Anne Hathaway and she gives another stellar performance here as the tough, no nonsense scientist and crew leader. McConaughey is McConaughey as usual and Chastain is ok and about as bland as she usually is. I honestly don’t understand her appeal.
All of the solid performances and set design work is ultimately failed by Nolan’s focus on special effects over tightening up their story/script. While it starts off well and manages to suck you in, the film ultimately doesn’t have anywhere to go. It’s interesting because I found out after watching the film that Stephen Spielberg was originally set to direct the project before he left and Nolan came on board.
While Jonathan Nolan has been the original writer from the start it clearly feels like two completely different films and it’s hard not to miss some of the Spielberg character touches in the beginning of the film versus the 2nd half.
At some point the film gives up on being an humanistic look people and becomes strangely cold and analytical as it tries too hard to get people to think about space, time travel and black holes.
The problem with this is, once it sets itself up to be a “smart” film it makes all the plot holes and stupidity that follows even more glaringly mind numbing.
Interstellar has one of the worst 3rd acts in recent memory. I didn’t hate Interstellar and I can’t even say I was letdown by it because I’m not a rabid Nolan fangirl. The movie feels like it runs out of ideas and just kind of stops.
Final Grade C