Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Written by: Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Wes Bentley, Mackenzie Foy and Matt Damon
Unless you have a degree in quantum physics, forget trying to figure out the inner workings of Interstellar, Christopher Nolan’s overly ambitious foray into space. In 2010, Nolan astounded audiences with Inception, a heady thriller with stunning visuals and a mind-blowing plot. Audiences had never seen anything like it, and the film grossed almost 300 million dollars when it was all said and done. Don’t bank on Interstellar repeating that level of success. Its convoluted plot makes for an extremely frustrating watch, and I doubt audiences will have the patience for it.
Interstellar takes place in the future, when a dust bowl has engulfed the entire planet. Consequently, food resources have been disastrously depleted. Corn is the only sustainable crop, but its days are numbered. There seems to be little hope for the human race.
Former astronaut Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) stumbles upon a top secret NASA facility and is recruited to head an expedition to a new galaxy in the hopes of finding a planet suitable for colonization. Sounds simple enough, right? Things get complicated in a hurry, as the story tackles quantum physics, the theory of relativity, wormholes, fourth and fifth dimensions, time-travel and just for the hell of it-love.
Nolan is undeniably talented, and provides us with the haunting, beautiful visuals we’ve come to expect from him. But that’s part of the problem. There’s a sense of familiarity in Interstellar. It doesn’t feel as fresh as Inception, because it isn’t.
Interstellar feels more pretentious than innovative. At some point Nolan alienates the viewer with all the scientific theories; by the third hour watching Interstellar ceases to be enjoyable, it becomes a chore. It doesn’t help matters any that the score (by Hans Zimmer) and general noise level drown out key lines of dialogue.
Addressing one of these concepts might have been a smarter move, cramming all these concepts into one film makes for a maddening experience. Nolan throws us another curve ball when the characters pontificate on whether love is quantifiable. The conversation does not feel like a cohesive part of the story, and could have been entirely done away with. The way Nolan handles it feels very forced, even though it is briefly revisited.
The acting in Interstellar is fine, but takes a backseat to the plot. Anne Hathaway is a member of the expedition crew, and Jessica Chastain plays Cooper’s grown up daughter. Any number of actors could have filled these roles with the same results. That’s not a knock on the acting, but it won’t be what you think about afterward.
On artistic merit alone, Interstellar is very good, but the plot problems mire down the film. Part of the intrigue of Inception was the fact that upon repeated viewings, you could actually piece together the puzzle of the plot. I make no pretense that I will ever figure out Interstellar, and I have no desire to take a stab by watching it again. – Shannon