Runtime: 169 Mins
What To Expect: A movie more obsessed with being a masterpiece than actually entertaining its viewers
Interstellar is another boring movie from Christopher Nolan. If I should be frank about it, it’s actually highfalutin horse shit, guff about love transcending time and space, through wormholes in the sky and even the floorboards of children’s bedrooms.
To mask the mediocrity, the seriousness is amped up with traditional pompous audio/visual techniques, such as the lead actor’s mumbling whispers – as if to suggest that speaking through your breath and frowning at your co-leads makes sure that the movie is that bit more intelligent. This is serious business… so hey, Hans Zimmer, flood every scene with heavy orchestral musical wash, including that scene with a man talking to his daughter in the car about homework, make sure they ‘get it’, that this movie is a work of art and not like the rest.
But it’s not a work of art, it’s intergalactic tedium. Mostly down to Jonathan and Christopher Nolan once again fucking up a screenplay. In Interstellar the world has gone to shit, with humanity reduced to a failing agrarian society. Matthew McConaughey is Cooper, an ex-NASA engineer and pilot who is instructed by a paranormal force in his daughter’s bedroom floor to head on out to a top secret location, where an aged and stoic-looking Michael Caine is working on a project to explore other planets. He wants Cooper to captain his rocket ship and find new habitation. Things are worsening on earth.
But for this emergency, I didn’t feel any urgency. The extent or cause of Earth’s troubles are never fully fleshed out or explained, therefore we are not inclined to fully root for Cooper or his team. That’s neglectful story telling, if you want your audience to care, you have to help them understand. We are left in frustration before even leaving earth, unanswered questions and not bothering to establish your story isn’t much fun.
A typical response from Nolanites when faced with such criticism of his rote and bloated movies, is that if a person did not enjoy the feature then they did not ‘get it’. Let’s get something straight here, high concept premises don’t automatically make for entertaining ones. You can have an ambitious story that requires you to be attentive, but it doesn’t mean shit if the story teller is making a mess of it. I mean, a good story requires rhythm and intuitive pacing. But here entire chunks of the movie are boring and slow, with menial plot points taking up 20-30 minutes of the three hour running time, then later in the movie, multiple defining swerves and twists are jammed into a single act.
That’s what I’d call gimmickry – chaotic rug pulling and plot twists for the sake of it. Weak writing in other words, masked with glorious visuals and foreboding ambience. The icing on the cake of this so-called thinking man’s odyssey is that Nolan signs off his high-concept, intellectual science fiction masterwork with a flatulent ‘love conquers all’ peroration. After all the hype. such an ending and message is about as intellectually engaging as listening to a stoned hippie at 4am rant about the private sector. But at least hippies know a thing or two about humour.
The movie looks nice, I’ll give it that. And while Hans Zimmer is too intrusive, he once again proves himself an undeniable genius. I felt a touch of Spielberg lingering about the first act of this movie, but then that guy, a real film maker, walked away from it. Do the maths.