There is nothing that caught the world’s attention more than when man first walked on the moon. Ever since that moment, man has tried to recreate the magic of space travel in film. This has occurred in several iterations, from the critically acclaimed 2001: A Space Odyssey and Apollo13, to the more generic blockbusters in the form of Armageddon.
Through the film’s secrecy in marketing its trailer and being written and directed by Christopher Nolan, Interstellar looks to add itself to the list of critically acclaimed science fiction films, but it ultimately fails to deliver the goods. This is because Interstellar seems unsure of what it wants to convey to the audience. On one hand, it looks at the human condition through humanity’s fight for survival and the need for dreamers to solve giant problems in the not so distant future. I look at the plot as a sort of a modern adaptation of Grapes of Wrath that involves space. This adaptation is done by having earth as a place that isn’t interested in the public’s imagination anymore because the costs of space travel and other scientific endeavours are seen as wasteful. This part of the story was done intelligently with the aim to attract an intelligent viewer. On the other hand, we have a film that is rushed with a simplistic plot line for a fairly complicated problem. This is done with the hope of trying to reach a bunch of different audiences of differing demographics. It leads to a story which never reaches its full potential and a movie that fails to launch.
On this futuristic earth, life is about farming. Massive food shortages caused this paradigm shift of dreamers in the hard sciences and engineering into farming. This shift is illustrated well with the main character, Cooper, perfectly portrayed by Matthew McConaughey. Cooper who has an adventurous soul, and we see that his character is meant to do more than farm. However, I find it odd that the film discusses what seems to be a reoccurring dream of Cooper crashing when he is with NASA, since the film fails to elaborate on this idea at all. This reoccurring nightmare may be seen as a plot device suggesting that Cooper is too afraid to fly again because of reasons that are not blatantly expressed within the story. He easily goes into space, leaving me wondering why it was left in the movie when it serves no real purpose to the plot.
The movie also struggles with pacing. At times, the film wields a grand narrative of excitement when it deals with space travel and the thought of adventure. Then, at other times, it moves fast, as if rushing to get to the end as quickly as possible. It is as if the plot wants to progress at the same pace as Cooper. On earth, he moves at the stereotypical slow pace of rural life, but while on the space mission, he makes decisions swiftly and events happen more rapidly, leaving little time for absorbing the gravity they have on the characters. The catalyst for why he is working so quickly is because he wants to get back to his kids since a black hole is slowing down the relative time on the planets they are exploring. This change of pace really leads me to not enjoy the movie as much as I should. It made the movie lack the depth that I have come to know and expect in Nolan films.
The acting for supporting characters is well done, but once again the character development feels rushed. This is most obvious in the relationship between Brand (Ann Hathaway) and Cooper. It feels like they try to forge a platonic friendship laced with some sexual tension, but it plays out strangely onscreen. They just don’t have the connection that Kate Hudson and McCaughey do.
This makes Cooper’s decision to leave the new earth settlement and go to the new planet to be with Brand odd because there is very little attachment to her character. Nonetheless, a bright spot to the movie is Michael Caine because, well, it’s Michael Caine and he is beyond awesome. I also think he is contractual obligated to be in all Christopher Nolan films.
Other features of Interstellar, such as the soundtrack and cinematography are complimentary aspects to the film, making it enjoyable to watch. Interstellar’s redeems itself with the fact the story’s premise is extremely intriguing. However, when I left the theatre, this film didn’t leave me with anything to ponder over, and I think the measure of a really good film is when it leaves you thinking. With the hype generated by this movie, it should be measured against the better films of its genre, and unfortunately, Interstellar doesn’t stand up. Regardless, this film is entertaining and I recommend watching it.