Review: Interstellar

– by David Morgan-Brown

interstellar poster 2It is impressive to see such a high scale sci-fi film that is much heavier on the drama rather than the action and goes without many of the blockbuster conventions. Christopher Nolan (best known for directing The Dark Knight trilogy) is perhaps the only director with this amount of creative freedom with such a high budget and he has earned the free reign he has on his latest film, Interstellar, which is not a sequel or an adaptation, but an original story co-written between himself and his brother, Jonathan.

Matthew McConaughey stars as Cooper, who lives on a dying Earth that is close to wiping out all of humankind. With the help of his very smart daughter, Murph, she finds a hidden code in gravitational waves that leads them to a secret base where what’s left of NASA resides, run by Professor Brand (Michael Caine), who informs Cooper that he must pilot a spaceship they wish to send through a wormhole near Saturn, in the hopes of finding a new planet that could sustain human life. Despite the extreme protest from Murph, he ventures into deep space, along with several other explorers including physicist Amelia (Anne Hathaway) to accomplish the most important objective a film could come up with – save all of humankind.

Interstellar is certainly a spectacular, awe-inspiring film that puts its audience through a unique journey, but underneath this impressive shell is little within. With a story as immense and as epicly sprawling, the film doesn’t quite match that with its characters and dialogue. There is an emptiness under the weight of the film’s technical design, with little in the characters to care about and dialogue so stilted that it only furthers the plotline rather than expand on the characters as well.

It’s not like the film isn’t trying, it spends most of its time aiming to be a Spielbergian tear-jerker in outer-space, but I don’t think Nolan has the capability for it. He has many strengths as a filmmaker, but dealing with the emotions of his characters isn’t one of them. It’s as if he is a robot trying to show people what he thinks are human emotions. But just showing someone cry (and there’s a lot of it here) isn’t going to make the audience cry, a lot of the more emotional scenes felt like they were trying, but not accomplishing.

Interstellar tries very hard to tackle quite a number of very big subjects (not just space travel, but time travel as well) and although they are interstellar posterpresent, they aren’t tied together with much coherence. Things get particularly bemusing towards the end when the quasi-fantasy realm is utilised to cover up gaping plot-holes. At this point, my suspension of disbelief wasn’t broken, but was tested as far as it could go.

For a film that edges the three hour mark, it’s not enough to have incredible visual effects and amazing sequences of space and other-worldly planets when the characters that journey through them are too robotic and lifeless to care about. But still, there is worth in the effects this movie has, with its outer-space scenes looking gorgeous and realistic, and the scenes on the faraway planet also look real, with Nolan’s insistence on using as little CGI and as much use of real locations and sets as possible really pays off when it comes to this film convincing audiences of its believability.

I always get embarrassed when a film this expensive, immense, and spectacular leaves me underwhelmed, but Interstellar just lacks the personality and beating heart it needed to give weight to its lofty, all-encompassing plot. In my opinion, if you want a better ‘space crew voyage into space to save all of humanity but encounter unpredictable problems along the way’ sort of film, try Sunshine, which is almost half as long as this bulbous behemoth.

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