November 13, 2014 for Cuckoo Review
Length: 169 mins
Writers: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan
Dir.: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, My Cocaine
I only have a rudimentary understanding of physics. I can just about get my head around relativity and space-time but when it comes to the multiverse and quantum mechanics my mind just shuts down and runs away. Lucky for me, then, that Christopher Nolan’s latest movie Interstellar appears to only have a loose grasp on the laws of physics.
The narrative of Interstellar is nearly impossible to summarise, simply due to the sheer scope of the thing. Suffice to say that former talking chest Matthew McConaughey plays Cooper, an ex-NASA pilot turned farmer in a world where everything has gone to hell for some unspecified reason. Basically, there is a blight that is slowly destroying the world’s food sources. He is shanghaied into piloting an exploratory space mission to find new worlds for the human race to colonise, accompanied by a group of the dumbest scientists ever portrayed on celluloid.
The best thing I can say about the film is that it looks incredible; the scenes on earth are exceptionally well shot and the space visuals are genuinely amazing to watch. The acting is for the most part solid; McConaughey gives an awesome performance (long live the McConaissance), as does Nolan regular Michael Caine. Matt Damon also turned up, much to everyone’s surprise, and nearly steals the show as a castaway explorer who has gone a bit wrong. The other actors – including big names like Anne Hathaway, Casey Affleck and John Lithgow – also do well but their characters are so badly written that it is nearly impossible to take them seriously.
And that’s the chief flaw of the movie, really; the story is convoluted and at times just downright ridiculous. There is a sense that the narrative is trying to do far too much; from the social commentary at the beginning, which attempts to be an indictment of consumerism and materialism, to the insane ending that comes out of nowhere. The film never seems to decide what it wants to be. Add to that the fact that most of the motivations and actions of the characters are entirely nonsensical and spectacularly dense (I’m no astrophysicist but I’m pretty sure that colonising a planet situated next to a black hole is a pretty stupid idea) and what seems to be a pretty severe sound-mixing problem and what you end up with is a mess of a film.
I can see what Nolan was going for, I really can. But instead of the epic space opera that he had in his head, what we got was a patchwork Frankenstein’s monster of a movie that imitates, but never surpasses, other (better) films.