Interstellar – Review

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Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Jessica Chastain, John Lithgow, Wes Bentley, Casey Affleck, Matt Damon
Written for the screen by: Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
IMDb Score: 8.7 (#25 in the Top #250 rated movies of All Time)
Metacritic Score: 74
Winner of One Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. Nominated for 5 Academy Awards including Best Music, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing and Production Design
One of the 10 Best Movies According to the American Film Institute

Rated PG-13 for some intense perilous action and brief strong language

Christopher Nolan, along with David Fincher, is undoubtedly one of the premiere writer and directors in film today. Since his breakout film Memento, he went on to co-write and direct the Dark Knight Trilogy, The Prestige, Insomnia and Inception: all of which have become classics and beloved films.

Well, I guess he was gonna have one miss at a point and here it is.

In order to not spoil the movie in anyway, here’s the briefest synopsis of the film: In a distant future where Earth is slowly destroying itself, Cooper (McConaughey) leads an expedition team to a worm-hole in Saturn that may lead them to a more inhabitable place.

***Although I will try my best not to spoil this movie, if you are going to watch this film, you might just want to check the score given and come back after you watched this film***

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Interstellar is by far and away Nolan’s most visual pleasing and exciting movies. It’s also his weakest story and weakest performing movies he’s done to date. One of Nolan’s best qualities is blending a great visual style with memorable characters and an interesting and at times thought provoking plot: Interstellar just doesn’t have the likable characters and while the things talked about in the movie are interesting, they aren’t made more heady thanks to a plot that seriously feels like another interpretation of Robert Zemeckis’ Contact.

Before I go into the serious problems this film has, the movie is shot exquisitely. Scenes either on a dust-filled earth to the outer reaches of space have such a clean, very colorful palette that makes the movie incredibly pleasing to the eye. In fact, this film makes Gravity look quaint when it comes to its computer generated visuals.

I’ll throw another parable about the visuals, it’s the second best looking movie set in outer space, only to be succeeded by 2001: A Space Odyssey…and it’s a close one. This is mainly due to what Interstellar wants to be and what 2001 is, which is the different between a story that has a clear delineation of relationship between daughter and daddy and a story that works as more of a philosophical by-line to what humans true purpose to our universe is…or to seriously trip balls.

So, yes, along with Avatar and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, if you have a sweet home theatre experience and want a blu-ray to show it off, Interstellar is most definitely a solid blu-ray to buy.

Along with the visuals, the sound is also astounding. Whether you listen to the bustling Hanz Zimmer score (which honestly drowns out some of the tepid dialogue) or the booms of the rockets going off (or even the silence of space), the sound design is something I loved listening to with a great set of headphones.

On a technical aspect, this is Nolan’s greatest movie and it may be one that will be celebrated for a while.

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As much as Interstellar is technically a masterpiece, fundamentally it’s a bore. The characters in the film are flimsy and one-dimensional. In fact, the characters aren’t given “traits” as they are given “plot devices” to operate on.

Cooper? Wants to see Murph again…not his son, just Murph. Dr. Brand, played by Michael Caine? He’s the old guy who needs to find a calculation to solve…gravity. Astronaut Brand, played by Hathaway? She’s Dr. Brand’s daughter. Oh, and she’s in love with another astronaut that could be found…or something.

The film treats its characters much like the planets and wormholes in space: as just a space and density that provides a different purpose not quite clear, not quite identifiable. When the characters sole need for being is to be a plot device, it takes away the entirety of what makes characters what they are: living embodiments of what we need to empathize with.

Interstellar‘s almost cold and calculating when it needs to be emotional and endearing. Even in Nolan’s darker, more obtuse movies, such as Memento and The Prestige, there’s a humanity and an attachment you feel to the elements of the movie or to the characters themselves. There is no connection to the characters at all; and while some movies can work as distant and analytical, there’s not enough in Interstellar‘s character arcs that give that.

These problems could be resolved with an excellent plot and story…too bad it’s not there. In fact, let’s be frank: the story is a mix of Contact with a very weak Shyamalan twist…even for Shyamalan standards. Without getting into details, the film twist can be seen a mile away: you just wish it wasn’t the actual twist.

And how the twists are woven into the plot are shmaltzy and kind of laughable. Let’s just say that lesser movies by lesser directors and writers have executed this type of plot device and run a lot better. Oh, and just when you think the movie is going to be over soon…there’s a Spielberg ending!

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It’s almost painful to say this: Interstellar is easily the worst movie that Nolan has made thus far. Not saying that it’s a bad movie, but a deeply flawed one. Technically, the movie belongs with movies like Avatar with its beautiful scenery and imagery. Thematically, it’s like The Usual Suspects meets Contact meets The Village.

See the film, it’s not a boring one. It’s just not a great one. Or a good one.

2/5 – Beautiful imagery and sound design marred by bland characters and poor plot construction.

The Wiz Says #20

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