Thursday, January 8, 2015

Interstellar Review

Interstellar is a very ambitious movie.  And in a time when so many movies aim to be mediocre, mass-appeal, CGI-smorgasbords,  a movie that tries to be big and important and occasionally succeeds is a very exciting thing.

Interstellar follows a team of scientists/astronauts, led by Matthew McConaughey, into the far reaches of the universe in search of another habitable planet.  That's about all I'll say about the plot, since many of the thrills of this movie come from experiencing the twists and turns the story takes.

Which leads me to my main criticism of Interstellar.  It just tried to be too many things at once.  This two and a half hour movie dives into so many subplots, rabbit holes, and digressions, that it doesn't really do justice to any of them.  There are no less than six "big ideas" tossed into the air during this film, any one of which would have provided enough material to explore for the entire running length.  Instead, we get meager little helpings of all six, and not one full, satisfying meal.  Because of this, there were parts of the movie that were very engaging and exciting, and then other parts that I just wanted to fast-forward through.  Nolan just couldn't keep all the balls in the air at the same time, which is understandable.  No one could.

If I had one other criticism of Interstellar, it would be that it tried a bit to hard to jerk tears, a few too many times.  It's like Christopher Nolan heard critics say that his films were cold and unemotional, and he said "You want emotion?  I'll pack so much emotion into one film you're head will spin!" As someone who absolutely loved his previous films, and wasn't bothered by their supposed sterility, this borderline melodrama rubbed me the wrong way.  Anne Hathaway's "love is the only force that transcends time and space" speech was particularly schmaltzy.  That being said, there were some moments that really hit me in the gut and have stayed with me.  Matthew McConaughey watching his children's tapes from home was powerful, in large parts due to McConaughey's vulnerable, raw performance.

Criticisms aside, Interstellar has stayed with me for the few days since I've seen it, which isn't true of most other big-budget adventure pictures I've seen recently.  At times, the spectacle is truly awe-inspiring, made all the more impressive by Nolan's frequent use of practical effects.  The emotion of the film, while at times a bit ham-fisted, occasionally packs the punch it was aiming to.  And above all, I don't want to knock a movie for dreaming big.  4/5 stars.