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Interstellar (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 24, 2023




Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Jessica Chastain, Wes Bentley, John Lithgow, Casey Affleck, David Gyasi, Mackenzie Foy, David Oyelowo, Collette Wolfe, Topher Grace, Ellen Burstyn, Matt Damon, Timothée Chalamet, William Devane and the voices of Bill Irwin and Josh Stewart.

Screenplay by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan.

Directed by Christopher Nolan.

Distributed by Paramount Pictures.  169 minutes.  Rated PG-13.

It’s time to acknowledge something.  Christopher Nolan is considered arguably one of the finest filmmakers currently working.

Technically, yes that is true.  The man has an incredible visual eye, a complicated mind and a very distinctive style.

However, his Achilles’ heel is simple – he’s not all that good a storyteller.  His movies are inevitably overstuffed, slow moving, morose and confusing.  And they tend to run for at least an hour longer than they need.

Truth is, I haven’t out and out enjoyed a single one of his films, and this is going back to his overrated breakout Memento.  I’ve appreciated them.  I’ve been awed by the craft behind them.  I even kinda liked a couple of them, but nothing I could get passionate about.

Honestly, my favorite of his films is the only one of the his films which he did not write, the wonderfully atmospheric crime drama Insomnia with Al Pacino and Robin Williams.  The Prestige with Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman was rather good before it spun out of Nolan’s control in the last half hour or so.  And yeah, The Dark Knight was pretty decent, though Heath Ledger’s take on the Joker was the only really memorable part of the film.

Interstellar continues in the same direction.  It is absolutely stunning to look at.  The first hour or so is quite entertaining.  Then it gets bogged down in too much exposition, too much empty action, too many impressive-looking-but-uninvolving false climaxes, too much dourness, too much confusion, too much McConaughey in his Lincoln-Continental commercial mode.  By the time it ends, nearly three hours later, the story has pretty much lost you.

The story looks at the Earth in the near future.  Human technology has ravaged the Earth, leaving the soil a wretched mess and swirling dust storms pummel the survivors.  Because food is such a scarcity, most humans must work as farmers to keep mankind alive.  (There are some valid ecological points here that get pretty much steamrollered by the heavy-handed story.)

McConaughey plays Cooper, a former NASA pilot-turned-farmer, a widower whose life now revolves around his farm and his family, particularly his young son and daughter.  Through some odd extraterrestrial signs, he finds the remains of NASA, run by his former professor (Michael Caine) and his daughter (Anne Hathaway).  NASA is trying to find alternate worlds to save the human race, as just before the disaster a wormhole opened up leading to three potentially inhabitable planets.

The professor wants Cooper and his daughter to lead an expedition into the wormhole to find if the planets will be a new home for the earthlings.  However time works differently in the wormhole, so for every minute Cooper spends in space, weeks go by on Earth.  Will he be able to save the world and get back before his children are decades older than he is?

Interstellar seems to be Nolan’s attempt to pay tribute to Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi classic 2001: A Space Odyssey.  In some ways he even succeeds, just as in 2001, the visuals are stunning and the storyline is intensely intricate to the point of often being confusing.  However, unlike 2001, much of the dialogue is rather vapid and Interstellar does not seem to know what exactly it is trying to say.

But man, it does look amazing.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2015 All rights reserved. Posted: March 31, 2015.

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