Christopher Nolan is, in my opinion, the finest director working today. I think he’s also one of the finest writers writing today. I am a huge Nolan fanboy since Following and he’s delivered some of my favorite films. In fact, the last five Nolan films I’ve rated 10.00s so we knew that streak was going to have to stop at some point. In a movie like this, where plot is everything, and arguing the minutae of the plot would ruin the experience for people planning to go, I’m going to write this relatively brief review and we can hash out finer points in the comments. Suffice it to say as a quick summary: this Nolan film was not a sixth 10.
Interstellar takes place in the near future following a global agricultural blight which has left most of humanity scrambling for food in a kind of giant Steinbeckian horror landscape. Farming is all; farming is everything. Matthew McConaughey plays a farmer who used to be a pilot and let’s just skip ahead to the part in short order where he hooks up with NASA. They’ve found a wormhole by Saturn and they’re looking for new homes for the human race because Earth isn’t going to last another generation. Before you can yodel Deep Space 9, we’re off through the wormhole on a mission trying to connect with the first group of astronauts who each was sent to a different world to scout it as a potential home for humanity.
That is all I’m telling you about the plot. That’s it.
The cast is amazing. Oscar-caliber actors have 45 second roles in this film. McConaughey continues his streak of stellar performances and the cast is in no way the problem with the film.
The film looks amazing. F/X are just totally believable in a way that I think even surpasses Gravity’s. Nolan used no green screen in shooting this film and I want to know HOW!
So what is the problem? The length for starters. It’s 2 hours and 43 minutes of extremely dense science-y talk mixed with scenes of AWE AND WONDER and we behold something that looks cool. It’s not that the writing is bad, but it gets too dense and there’s a point where the film leaps and I feel the plot collapses entirely. You may feel differently. This is a film that’s going to polarize a lot of people. Nolan was even more secretive than typical with the film, not even letting Hans Zimmer see a script to compose a score for the damn thing. How can a composer compose for a film he hasn’t seen…..well he can’t. You end up with 2.5 hours of glorified planetarium music and it’s hard to blame Zimmer because what was he supposed to do?
Interstellar may be even more ambitious than Inception and that’s kind of its problem. It didn’t know its limits. It didn’t stay believable (even within its created universe) and it feels every one of those 153 minutes. That being said, I’d still see it because it looks phenomenal and you may completely disagree on the plot and there’s nothing to fault in the acting. It turns out a bad Nolan film is still better than most of the dreck we’ve been force fed this year.