By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
Director Christopher Nolan, the man who reinvented the comic book hero movie, set his ambitions and sights higher with his follow up film to The Dark Knight Rises. After his brother Jonathan wrote the initial script, the two collaborated in further developing the story and screenplay for production. Utilizing both anamorphic 35 mm and IMAX 70 mm cameras, Nolan, cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema, and their effects crew have created a visually stunning movie. Though the story has its beautifully poignant and breathtaking moments, the flaws keep Interstellar from completely achieving the ambitions of the Nolans.
In the not-so-distant future, the Earth seems to be dying and the human race will soon go with it, unless the scientists of the world can come up with a solution. While some seek answers for rescuing the planet from the droughts and dust storms, others are seeking living options elsewhere. When a wormhole is discovered in our solar system, a group of visionary scientists come up with some plans to use this shortcut to seek for habitable planets in other galaxies. Former astronaut-turned-farmer Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) gets tapped to pilot the mission; however, this risky journey will either keep him away from his family several years or indefinitely.
Jonathan and Christopher Nolan’s story is epic in scope and ambition, but falters in being somewhat long winded and also in having some plot holes, particularly in the last act. After the carefully structured and meticulously written first acts, the conclusion of the film drops the ball somewhat and comes across as contrived and hackneyed. In all of its scientific exposition and somewhat cold, intelligent leanings, the movie does have heart. In fact, the Nolans’ examination of humanity’s difficulty in reconciling matters of the heart with matters of the brain makes this movie somewhat compelling. However, this real human issue is indicative in how the fillmmakers tell this story. As much brains they put into most of their film, their attempt to close the film on a more sentimental note feels forced and unnatural.
Despite these writing problems, the movie is worth experiencing for its effective story crescendos and for the gorgeous look of the film. Audiences should most definitely see this film on the big screen. The screening I attended presented the movie on a giant IMAX screen. The cinematography looks amazing on the massive screen, but the screening I attended was plagued with technical issues. The print looked a bit dirty for a new movie, and the sound levels needed adjustment. The bass rumbled way too loudly and sounded like it was about to blow the speakers. This is first for me, as almost all of my IMAX viewings at the Bob Bullock Museum, here in Austin, have been superb. Hopefully, the theater management will address these issues and hopefully, other IMAX theaters will not have any of these problems.
All technical and writing problems aside, the cast members all perform well with McConaughey wearing his heart proudly on his sleeve. He delivers what is probably his most heartfelt and emotional performance ever. Anne Hathaway stars as Dr. Amelia Brand, one of the scientists and crew members on the treacherous mission. As usual, Hathaway proves why her name deserves its place high up on the credits listing. The movie also features impressive and beautiful performances by Jessica Chastain, Mackenzie Foy, Michael Caine, John Lithgow, David Gyasi and Ellen Burstyn. As an added bonus, the mult-talented Bill Irwin voices the hilariously snarky robot TARS. As a director, Christopher Nolan obviously works well with his cast members and knows how to get the best from them.
So even though Interstellar may not live up to the high expectations fans and movie goers may have for it. I must recommend it for its positive attributes. The movie is quite amazing in parts, but does have its problems in other moments. The Nolans and their crew do succeed in creating a remarkable sensory ,cinematic experience, but they seemed to have forgotten how to genuinely conclude their movies on magical notes. The Dark Knight Rises also suffers from this issue, so hopefully after these last two films, they will relearn how to create a thoroughly satisfying movie experience. They have done it before.