There comes a point in every director’s career where his/her name brings with it an automatic expectation of greatness, where just the mention of a person’s name somehow promises an unquestionable masterpiece without even seeing a single frame of film. Christopher Nolan seemed to have amassed that very same kind of infamy after his successful take with Batman’s “Dark Knight Trilogy” and “Inception.” So it should come as no shock that people expected great things from Nolan’s space epic film, entitled “Interstellar.” Were those expectations met? Well…it definitely looks REALLY pretty!
“Interstellar” is about Earth’s impending destruction and humankind’s remaining scientists are planning to launch a rocket into another galaxy in hopes of finding a new planet for Earth’s population to colonize and start a new life on. The problem is, NASA’s top space pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is afraid of the toll this mission will take on his family’s lifespan and his 10-year-old daughter Murphy (Mackenzie Foy) may die from old age before her father ever comes back. So Cooper, Dr. Brandt (Anne Hathaway) and a handful of explorers venture off into an unknown galaxy in Earth’s last ditch effort to save the human race before it becomes extinct from the planet we once called home.
Everything about this film and its structure gave me mixed feelings, I’d say it was like a roller coaster, but those only go up and down and sometimes upside down; this movie was all over the place. Things start off slow despite some amusing parental antics from McConaughey, then things slowly get more interesting as they reach space, then things get emotional and heart breaking when we learn about time delayed messages to Earth and then….things get weird. “Interstellar” comes across like George Lucas tweaking his old Star Wars movies: there was a good idea in here but then he decided to throw this and that in there, to the point that all the good qualities started getting overwhelmed by the stupid stuff that was needlessly added.
There are times when things got dark and REALLY intense, but then some other wild-card plot device would get tossed in that changes everything completely and by the time you got your head wrapped around that twist; you get slammed with another and another. It’s a shame really because between McConaughey, Hathaway and Michael Caine; there are some truly powerfully moving emotional scenes that are quickly forgotten due to the erratic plot devices popping up everywhere. The journey wields a lot of great ideas and compelling conflicts and if the movie spent its near 3-hour mark towards working through its conflict before jumping into juggling 5 more; this really could have been the epic space drama that we’d expect from Nolan.
Instead, the movie’s own logic becomes distorted and absurdly bizarre; taking you everywhere from 5th dimensions, black holes, and far away galaxies…yet still unable to take its head out of its own ass and deliver a third act that doesn’t go banana bonkers crazy. The ending itself seems to forsake not only space logic but also common character logic. It half-assedly tosses in a relationship shift that felt more forced than factual, and in my opinion, negates a lot of McConaughey’s motivations that the past 2 hours spent developing. In a way, Nolan delivered some truly great things in this film; namely the performances of his well-chosen cast and the spectacular space visuals, but in another, increasingly annoying way; Nolan played things out as if he didn’t even know what he was doing and trying to make something senseless seem smart.
Overall, “Interstellar” has the cast, the music, and the visuals to truly live up to Nolan’s well-earned reputation for excellence…even though the plot is basically yanked straight from “Lost in Space.” But the nonsensical “2001” like ending, numerous plot devices and wasting talented people on a disjointed script doesn’t bring anything truly epic to the table. This is a space voyage that goes to too many places and takes too long to get there; resulting in many questions that you don’t care to answer or understand…like what was Nolan thinking here?