Movie Review: Interstellar [2014]

Unlike most of Christopher Nolan fans, I'm never freakishly excited about his upcoming films. Mostly because that he's not one of my favorites, even though I love most of his movies and second of all, I know that Chris can always think of something, I'd not adore that much. Interstellar was not an exception and I just went to theater having in mind whatever I've heard or read about it. 

Imagine the Earth on the edge of extinction, cataclysm and windy storms, that threatens lives of everyone and probably the generation we live with may be the last one. The only way out is to think of new home, where mankind can safely reside with all its species. Interstellar is a story of the voyage that aims saving our civilization and this journey takes place not only within the space, but minds of each character. It's a plain illustration of who we really are, what is our destiny (if there is any), if there is anything superficial than human mind and what is beyond the space we see.

Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a farmer living with his two kids and father-in-law in the corn fields. He is an ex NASA astronaut, who's given up the job after the tragic incident and abolition of NASA itself. His ten year old daughter Murphy (Mackenzie Foy) believes that she's seeing ghosts in her room, who try to talk to her, to give some kind of signs but of course, nobody believes it. Until Cooper himself finds encrypted coordinates in the dust storm and gets to secret NASA base. Professor Brand (Michael Cane), who is the head of this secret mission, explains that the organization has been working on options to save humanity, by sending astronauts through a wormhole in another galaxies. Obviously, Cooper turns out to be a perfect candidacy as a pilot to save the world. While deciding to be the hero, his daughter Murphy is not that happy thinking of father gone for indefinite period of time, baring in mind that her "ghost"  urges to "STAY" on the earth. But who listens to kids!

So, now retired farmer leaves home with three other astronauts, including Brand (Anne Hathaway) heading to wormhole and landing on Miller planet, where time moves too slowly - an hour of Miller planet equals to 7 years on the Earth. It takes exactly one hour for them to understand that humanity can not survive gigantic waves and they have to seek another options.

Meanwhile, time passes on the Earth and Murphy is already 33 years old and she works for NASA and Professor Brand, who miraculously does not get any older. Now they both work on equation, that should transfer the Earth inhabitants to safe planet whenever it is found. In case it does not work, Prof. Brand has a plan B - leaving all generations here to die and settling new colonies by astronauts in the space. Later, Murphy and then Cooper and Brand find out that there is no plan A and people back home will definitely die, which means Cooper is never going back to save his kids. This is where it all gets complicated, him trying to find a way out. In this search they get to ice planet, where one of unsuccessful missions reside with one survivor Dr. Mann (Matt Damon). It becomes clear that Dr. Mann has all information about Prof. Brand's plan that he doomed to death all people for sake of future generations. Believing in this, he tries to stop new mission from intruding in this plan.

Without spoiling everything, here is what I think about Interstellar - it could have been so much better in both substantive and visual ways. But it failed to impress and it's just an ordinary sci-fi, with great cast and phenomenal music.
In fact, this should have explained everything
To start from very beginning, no matter how good director Nolan is, he is not that good writer and this film just witnesses it. There is nothing original about the idea of Earth dying, or moving through space to seek safe heaven, there is nothing original in spaceships or different dimensions. The characters are all the same you can find in any same genre film - a father missing his children, a well educated astronaut, some distraction (Damon), someone evil from the earth, who decides others fate. The movie lasts 169 and there is almost zero character development, all of them, I mean all of them are utterly underwritten, maybe except Murphy - she was OK. You could notice nothing much about dialogues or plot twists, except the idea of 5th dimension. Because 5th dimension is a theory, Nolan created three dimension scene (bookshelf scenes in the end) to demonstrate that there can be 5 dimensions where past, present and future are interrelated and you can change any of them.

Many people, and mostly freak fans of Nolan, saw number of biblical parallels - for instance, 12 missions sent to space as an allusion of Jesus 12 apostles and that Cooper was 33 when he left Earth to sacrifice himself for other (just like Jesus did?). They can be right, but come on, does referral to the bible count as original? Anyone can do this and think of these analogies and there is nothing exceptional in "stealing" ideas from a (pardon to Christians) fantasy book.

Nolan also hints humanities great desire to believe in something supernatural. The wormhole, that suddenly appears near Mars, is believed to be created by THEM, whoever they can be and Cooper believes that THEY sent him to NASA for the mission. In the end, you might guess, it turns out there is no THEM, it's just US and only we can create, modify and define our past, present future. Thanks Mr. Obvious!

Nolan has the answer what makes universe work and defines all gravitational, time/space laws - LOVE. Through Hathaway's character, he explains why love should be a moving force for everyone and that love is the power that enhances our survival instinct. Shortly, I found it odd and could not connect much.

Another probable reason a sci-fi can be really good is its visuals. Well, we leave in the era after Gravity, which just stunned every single shot in the space and gave totally different understanding what it looks like out there. And logically, Nolan could have outdone it, taking into consideration that actions take place in many different galaxies and planets. But no! Honestly, there was nothing exceptionally good about cinematography or art direction. There were few good shots, but mostly, it all was black, dark and least colorful. While Alfonso CuarĂ³n and Emmanuel Lubezki captured the most beautiful shots of our planet.
The most valuable thing in Interstellar was Hans Zimmer's music, which may not be his best work, but it worked well, the main theme was breathtaking and I think he deserves some award love for this work. To compare, this score is nothing close to Inception but it's better than The Dark Knight trilogy.

Cast was good. Especially young actress Mackenzie Foy who did a brilliant job portraying young Murphy. She felt very emotional and true all the time and her character was the most sympathetic one to me. McConaughey had a good scene, when he watches a video from his son, who turns out to be grown a lot in the past hour, while he resided on Miller planet. He has an emotional breakdown and even though it's almost silent scene, Matthew's eyes tell it all. But there is something wrong with his performance - he sounded like he whistled all the time, just like he did in The Wolf of Wall Street. It just draw me crazy.

Christopher, as a director, could have done more serious work by making the film more technically complicated, visually stunning and creating more consistent plot. Sci-fi is a very good genre for director to win awards, because it stresses on her/his creative and technical work. Cuaron won for doing both perfectly, so did James Cameron and many others. But Nolan just did not take the visual part of film seriously. Anyone who saw both Gravity and Interstellar will fairly admit that the first one was more impressive and beautiful.
Probably the most memorable shot from the whole movie
I'm not sure how much award attention it gets this year, probably, a lot and just because of Nolan. Honestly, it hardly deserves any nominations and especially Best Picture. It can grab both sounds, even though it's nothing alike to Gravity, visual effects and score. I even doubt sound noms, because dialogues were too quiet and score/sound effects louder. I found sound editing irritating and distracting. There's always a chance that it was fault of my theater, but I've read about other people having the same complaints. So, I guess it's true.

To conclude, Interstellar tries to be a smart eye-candy movie and fails, but it's still worth of one time theater watch, it can impress immediately, but I am sure it won't be remembered for a long period. 

2 comments:

  1. Great review! I pretty much agree on everything except for Matt's performance which I thought was the best part of the movie. but yeah the characters were so underwritten...they had potential but they didn't do anything with it.

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  2. Thanks Sati! Glad to agree on everything. He was not bad, but except that scene, nothing exciting.

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