Saturday, November 8, 2014

Interstellar - Movie Review

Interstellar is a film by Christopher Nolan about a team sent into space in search of a new home for mankind. This science fiction epic stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, John Lithgow, Wes Bentley, and Mackenzie Foy.

Cooper (McConaughey) is a former engineer and test pilot who has been raising his two children on a farm in the Midwest during a time when the world is succumbing to a changing climate that is becoming unlivable for the human race. After a strange series of events leads Cooper and his daughter Murph (Foy) to a hidden NASA base, he is recruited to lead an interstellar mission that is meant to save mankind by finding it another home. What the crew eventually finds during their journey becomes a lot more dangerous than they ever expected and are forced into making choices against impossible odds.

This is definitely one of those movies that made me think long and hard about how I felt after seeing it which can often be a double edged sword. On one hand, this movie is a brilliant piece of film making that moves the genre forward by leaps and bounds. On the other hand, it is an overly dramatic story that takes too much time explaining itself and ends up being so convoluted that it becomes comical. I really feel like Christopher Nolan is trying way too hard to teach humanity a lesson in what we are doing to our planet and goes way too far off the deep end with some of the scientific theories he incorporates into the narrative. It's very strange to me how the man who crafted Inception into an absolutely brilliant movie could completely stumble and fall with a film about space travel.

From a technical standpoint, I imagine this movie will walk away with many awards as the look and feel of everything is so well done, you never feel like any of it is fabricated or computer generated. Even the enormous tidal waves came off looking legit even if you were left wondering how they could occur in ankle deep water. I suppose that is actually a great analogy for the movie as a whole as everything looks amazing, but there are so many "What the heck are they doing?", "How did that just happen?", and "Um...yeah, that's just silly" moments that it's hard to appreciate the effort put into the visuals.

As far as the acting, I would say the performances are mediocre at best as the cast is not given nearly enough time to develop their characters which is strange considering the movie is over two and a half hours long. You would really think a decent portion of that time would be spent getting to know who everyone is, but instead we get an ending that is way too long and ends up just being weird and ultimately laughable. Sure, there are a few moments where the actors are given room to shine although I really feel that Nolan has proven over the last several years that he is more a technical director than one who can draw out the best of what his cast has to offer. McConaughey and Chastain are pretty much wasted in this movie as they are each given one emotion to work with and no opportunity to expand from there. I would really have to go with the performances turned in by Anne Hathaway and Mackenzie Foy as the standouts of the entire movie.

I suppose the toughest thing about this movie for me is that I really wanted to fall in love with it and had really high hopes that it would fire on all cylinders as a science fiction epic but, unfortunately, it fell far short of that lofty goal. As I mentioned earlier, I really had to put some thought into how I felt about the film and wasn't able to sit down right away to write my review. While it's good that Nolan takes film making so seriously, I feel like he pushed things too far and lost sight of what a fun and epic adventure this could have been. I know he stays away from injecting a lot of humor into his films although this movie really needed it and the laughs we do get are unintended ones which are never a good sign for a movie that is trying to be all serious like this one is.

Even while the story sort of drifted along, I felt like there could still be a really good payoff at the end but instead what I witnessed was an extremely over the top third act that doesn't really end as much as it exhausts itself and sort of drifts off into nothing. Like Inception, the ending is supposed to leave you wondering about what comes next but, by the time it gets there, the whole thing is so convoluted, you're just sitting there like...what...that's how it's going to end?

Now that I've written this review, I've come to terms with the fact that I can honestly say I did not like the movie. Interstellar was supposed to be one of the more memorable movies of the year and, while it does achieve that status, it is not for the reasons I had originally had in mind.

Should you see this movie in IMAX? Absolutely, yes.
Several scenes were shot using actual IMAX cameras and the effect is, at times, breathtaking and well worth the premium price. Keep in mind, in the Seattle area, there is only one, true IMAX screen and that is the Pacific Science Center's Boeing IMAX theater. If you go to any of the multiplex "IMAX" screens, you are not getting the real experience and pretty much wasting your money. Want to know why I say that? CLICK HERE for my article regarding the truth about the IMAX experience.


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