Quick review (aka. my two cents): Interstellar (2014)

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Reviews for this are just about done to death now and I don’t have much else to bring to the table, so I’ll keep it short.

Part environmental cautionary tale, part domestic drama, part intergalactic adventure, part psuedo-intellectual jargon,Interstellar is set in the near future, in a world where earth has become unable to sustain humanity, who is now reliant on farmers, not engineers. Humanity survives, they don’t explore. Ravaged by constant dust storms, crops are dying, and future generations are going to suffocate from decreased oxygen, it’s getting more desperate by the minute. Ex-NASA test pilot and engineer turned father, Coop (Matthew McConaughey), is father to two kids, 10 year-old brilliant daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy, played as an adult by Jessica Chastain in the meatiest role in the whole film) and son Donald (Timothée Chalamet, played as an adult by Casey Affleck). Upon deciphering binary messages left by what Murph believes is a ghost, Coop discovers that last remaining shred of NASA operations, lead by Professor Brand (Michael Caine) and his daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway). Complete with a sarcastic robot (homage to HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey), Coop leaves a dying earth for another galaxy to secure his children and the rest of the world’s future, a mission laced with complex time-bending and duty.

Arguably the most anticipated film of the year, Interstellar has wowed some and left others cold. I fall in the latter category. There’s plenty to marvel at in psuedo-intellectual studio filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s homage to the lo-fi, discovery days of sci-fi like 2001: A Space Odyssey, it’s well shot, the effects are marvellous (it’s sure to take Visual Effects at next year’s Academy Awards), it doesn’t wear its 169 minute runtime as badly as it could have. Overall, it’s an entertaining trip to the cinema. But I’m experiencing very nearly the same issues as I did with last year’s VFX-driven box office smash, Gravity – the emotional content just doesn’t match the visual. I never felt exhilarated, like the tension was mounting. I didn’t feel the desperation over the fact that the world was dying and that the mission was to rescue it, that people on earth had been left there to die. Nolan’s film mostly suffers from wildly underdeveloped characters – McConaughey just feels like he’s playing himself, signature “alright, alright, alright” schtick and all; Hathaway’s character is barely taken out of the box, cliches and all, and complete with a speech on the extrascientific powers of love that is bound to become the butt of many an awards season joke; and from the moment the two people on the mission are played by unknown actors, you know it’s not going to end well. Top that off with the cringe-worthy dialogue that has sadly become expected in films like this, a horrendous sound mix, and you have a film that didn’t feel human enough, didn’t feel like the emotional tour de force Nolan was aiming for in having it actually be all about fatherhood and obligation. Stay at that point, take out the endless explaining-but-never-really-explaining-just-talking-in-circles and maybe it would have resonated much more.

Rating: 3.5/5

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