(directed by Christopher Nolan, 2014)
***+ (out of 5)
> Christopher Nolan makes BIG FILMS.
. And like its predecessors, (from the singular FOLLOWING IN 1998 to his breakthrough MEMENTO to THE DARK KNIGHT trilogy) INTERSTELLAR is a BIG FILM. Befitting its title, his newest is a grandly ambitious, occasionally breathtaking film that promises BIG and delivers… sporadically. With a track record like his, it was impossible not to have high expectations for this much-anticipated grand scale blockbuster. (I was a big fan of THE PRESTIGE and INCEPTION knocked my socks off with its sheer inventiveness!) So I wanted to like this film a whole lot more than I was able to. I dig the director, the genre, the considerable acting talent- (from Ellen Burstyn to John Lithgow, Anne Hathaway and the redoubtable Matt Damon), but this was no INCEPTION. More to the point, it was no GRAVITY.
. I loved parts of this sprawling narrative and other parts just left me cold as the void of space- worse: bored. Though pleasantly unpredictable, the whole affair eventually felt long and meandering. It seemed to have a pacing problem whenever the human part of the story was in play. And Mr. Nolan aimed high in this regard- taking his time to establish the family backstory before suddenly thrusting the hero (Matthew McConaughey, lazy drawl intact, clothed and sans bongos) into an insanely improbable scenario that he seems to accept without critical thought. It’s simple:
. The world is screwed. The earth’s human population has plummeted and with the awful duststorms, the crops are failing, one by one. Famine and extinction loom. Not to worry! Good ol’ Michael Caine, in his familiar lovable-scientist persona, is all ready to send a crew into a newly-developed wormhole provided by an unknown alien intelligence to secure a new home for the surviving Earthlings! All genial Mr. Caine, (enjoying his retirement on camera,) needs to save the species is an experienced astronaut. Good thing naked bongo man just happened to be a trained astronaut before the world nearly came to an end, and he was forced, like everybody else, to become a farmer. Good thing his predictably brilliant 10 year old daughter had a “ghost” in her room that was communicating in Morse code by knocking books out of her library to leave them coordinates to the secret underground launch pad, so he can go off and save humanity- or if Plan-A fails, just seed human life elsewhere… No, wait. The books- that’s just an anomaly of gravity…
. Wha’??? Much of this film just don’t make no cents. We is supposed to ignore it and go wid da flow. ‘Okay,’ I thought as I watched. ‘I go’. I get it. When you bring time/space relativity into the equation, a screenwriter can justify just about anything without needing to generate the slightest blush. Where all this prestidigitation worked real magic in INCEPTION, here, it’s all too much. The stretches required for suspension of disbelief lead to sprained muscles here. And SPOILER ALERT (as if it mattered!) I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how bongoboy got from the center of a blackhole to his hospital bed in the far too tidy ending. Oh wait. Never mind. It’s not the ending… There’s more? Of course! A few weeks on his end of the voyage was decades back on earth.
. Don’t get me wrong: there’s some really great stuff here, but the ambitions of the film seem to work against it. At the close of showings of GRAVITY, audiences spontaneously cheered and applauded. This audience filed out quietly, wondering what they would have for dinner.
© Kevin Paul Keelan and lastcre8iveiconoclast, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kevin Paul Keelan and lastcre8iveiconoclast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.