This movie got a lot of Internet hype. First and foremost for director Christopher Nolan sticking to producing the movie with actual Film instead of Digital Cameras. And the fact that he filmed on 35 and 70mm for IMAX presentation. And from what I heard the IMAX 70mm version really is worth your money. Other than that the audience seems a bit divided when it comes to liking the movie. I certainly noticed that a lot of my online contacts seem to love this movie. I share a lot of interests with them especially art wise. So I was very interested how I would feel after seeing the film. Beware: This review contains spoilers.
It is a very complex film with a lot of themes and stuff going on. To run down the story would just be too much for this short little review. Let’s just say that Earth isn’t what it used to be anymore. I don’t think they mention an exact year but it’s not too far away in the future from our current present time. Things got bad and humanity isn’t doing well. The production of food went down to a rudimentary state and to be a farmer is kind of a dream job in that world. We meet Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a former Testpilot. He lives on a dusty farm with his daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy, Jessica Chastain), son Tom (Timothee Chalamet, Casey Affleck) and his father Donald (John Lithgow). By a series of strange events Cooper finds out that NASA still exists and looks for a pilot. The mission is to travel through a wormhole and find a new home for mankind. This spawns some problems with his family of course. Cooper is probably never coming back and especially his daughter doesn’t want him to leave. Cooper decides to go on the trip but promises to come back. There is so much more to the story but I want to leave it there and talk about the movie itself.
It is great to see a movie like this. Especially one that touches on so many scientific questions. It’s not necessarily trying to answer the questions it’s asking but it throws them out there. I’m a scifi fan so I’m familiar with most of the topics in this movie. But I can really honestly imagine that this movie probably widened some of its audience’s scientific horizon quite a bit. Which is fantastic and a superb thing to have nowadays. And that’s the part of the movie that works fantastically.
Then we have the emotional component. And yeah, the word ‘component’ describes it best. There is a lot of heartbreaking stuff going on but it often feels very constructed and not really organic. For his past movies Nolan often got criticized that they have a rather cold and technical feeling. And I tend to agree. Did it make his movies bad or less enjoyable? No, they were fantastic. So with Interstellar it felt like he desperately wanted to prove the critics wrong. There are emotional scenes in the movie that work. Especially the one when Cooper says goodbye to Murph. That’s a hard scene and really well acted. But then jump to the end when he finally sees his daughter again… this scene is so desperately trying to be emotional but it feels cold and rushed. If I were Cooper in that situation, seeing my now over 100 year old daughter again, I wouldn’t be able to stay on my feet. The flood of emotion in that moment would bring me to my knees and make me cry. Not even a close reaction from Cooper there. Not a single tear. Instead his daughter (in the movie it feels almost immediately) sends him out to search for Brand (Anne Hathaway) who’s now stuck on an alien planet.
This movie has so many parts I have problems with. In the movie we just left Earth and got through the wormhole and already the main objective is to get back home as soon as possible. The mission didn’t even start really at this point in the film. In the last 5 minutes of the movie Cooper makes the impression as if he’s starting to think that he doesn’t belong into this (for him) future world anymore. Which is, to a degree, relatable. A lot of things changed since he left. So he steals a small spacecraft to fly back into the wormhole to look for Brand on the other side. Why does he need to steal it? Why not setting up a complete new mission? I don’t see a reason why future Earth wouldn’t agree to that. And to go back to the beginning of the film. Even after three days of thinking about the movie I don’t understand the logic of Earth in this movie. We are told that Earth isn’t in good shape. Duststorms and the whole climate changed. Energy is low. And they say that in a couple of generations mankind will either starve or suffocate because there aren’t enough plants left to produce oxygen. But when Cooper is looking for NASA and drives into the mountains… there are forests… lakes… it all looks like it’s supposed to look. Which again is so inconsistent that it just stuck out for me.
For the space part I think what it ultimately comes down to is Exploration. The only moment that feel of ‘adventure’ comes up is when they land on the first planet. There is some freaky tense stuff going on that shows some great concepts and the audience is exploring something new along with the characters on screen. But that sequence were 15 minutes out of a 168 minute movie. I wanted more of that exploration stuff happening. I didn’t get that and I guess that also plays into my mixed feelings about this movie. Show me stuff that will stun me. Amazing vistas in space and on alien planets. And while there are some really great scenes in space that create a lot of scope/scale… I completely missed that when they were on the planets. Yeah there was that giant wave but hey… seen that before. The frozen clouds thing was cool. But I feel that they haven’t done a lot with that idea. That place just looked grey. A really stunning vista view landscape matte painting is what I would have loved to see there. I was literally waiting for something like that. But it never happened. You tell me about realism all you want but I need that in a movie like this one. A visual element of wonder.
Now you could argue that ‘suspension of disbelief’ is crucial for this movie. And I would almost say no to that. I couldn’t get to that point. The movie didn’t let me get there. The movie tries so hard to be sort of accurate/realistic when it comes to its science but it lacks consistency in all the other departments. That’s frustrating because I really wanted to love that movie. Instead it’s just a ‘good’ movie.
So ultimately there are two movies in Interstellar. A scientific movie that manages to play with some really interesting ideas and portayed these very well. And a movie that’s about emotions, love, leaving stuff behind and the struggle to get it back. So when I left the theater I felt that I needed more from both of these movies to fully embrace Interstellar. There are so many ideas and concepts in this movie that it felt like none of it was explored enough to satisfy me. It rarely happens that I leave the theater and immediately am able to pinpoint what’s wrong with a movie. In this one I immediately knew. Which is really really weird for me.
It is a GOOD movie. But it has some problems the movie is not able to make me overlook. And normally I’m the first one going “yeah you know it’s because… blah”. I just can’t do it here. =)
Go out and see it. It will deliver some ideas and concepts that may blow your mind. It’s well acted and technically very well executed. And not 3d… thank god.
A solid 7.8/10 for me.