I was excited to see Interstellar last weekend. I’ve always been impressed with Director Christopher Nolan’s movies and the artistic vision he has brought to everything from Batman to Inception.
It’s hard to write a full review of something as expansive as Interstellar, especially since I’m not a film critic and there are a number of supposed plot twists, surprises, and a “big reveal” at the end that I’m guessing was supposed to move viewers in a Sixth Sense manner. Accordingly, this will be a short review.
Overall, I was disappointed.
The music score was beautiful, the sound (Merianna and I saw the film in its intended IMAX experience) was deafening but very well done and effective. There were grumblings from early reviewers that the awesome (I use that word in its intended case) sound of the movie drowned out dialogue in key parts. Nolan later revealed that was intended. I would argue that’s probably a good thing because the dialogue we are left with is trite and oozes with sappiness that a movie of this intended grandeur should not include. The exception was Murph as a young girl, who was fantastic. The special effects were incredible and definitely kept you engrossed despite all the plot holes (some as big as a black hole) and inconsistencies of actual science as applied in the movie.
Yet, the movie kept trying to be something bigger than it was. It was reaching to be the 2001: A Space Odyssey of our generation. It fails to do that.
Perhaps my disappointment in the movie is my own fault because I love “hard science” sci fi and I’ve seen 2001 too many times. For a casual movie goer who wasn’t a science teacher, it’s probably incredibly moving and scientifically “awesome!”.
I’ve tried to like the movie all week in my head. As a final attempt, Merianna and I watched 2001 last night because of my grumblings about how similar Interstellar tried to be to that classic. 2001 holds up well, in my opinion and is much more of an expansive, intimate, and anxiety causing experience (about our own humanity, about our place in the cosmos, about the still small voices in our head etc). Compared to 2001 and the oblique absence of dialogue or emotions from the humans (HAL 9000 is the most emotive character), Interstellar is closer to Armageddon (I’m sorry).
What really let me down the most about Interstellar besides the cheesy dialogue, the utter ridiculousness of attempting to make love some sort of quasi-scientific force akin to gravity or electromagnetism, the plot leaps (why is the rocket facility that close to the farm??… I could go on and on but don’t want to spoil anything) was the ending. I won’t reveal anything, but it’s terrible.
The first 20 and last 20 minutes of 2001 are dialogue free. There’s only music. It’s moving, strange, and engrossing. Interstellar attempts something similar and when Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) has a similar experience to Dave (from 2001) at the end of the movie, I was impressed. Interstellar reaches its moving crescendo and leaves room to breathe emotionally, visually, and even a little philosophically. I was sure the movie was done and started mentally preparing to try to find our way out in the crowded theater. But Interstellar didn’t end. It kept going. And it sucked for those last 20 painful minutes.
It’s a fun movie. But it could have been so much better had Nolan left room for the audience to explore themselves. For all of its celebration of humanity as a species of explorers, Nolan treats the audience like a group of primates protecting a watering hole on an African savanna rather than an advanced life form. Too many banal chalkboards, whiteboards, sappy conversations, and drippy conversations for me to elevate this movie to where I’d hoped it would be.