If you hear any so-called movie critics use either the phrase “It was too long” or “That’s two-hours I’ll never get back” turn immediately in the opposite direction and run. It’s just too easy to be cliché especially when nearly a half-dozen new films premiere each and every week. Compound that with films that offer lofty ideas and complicated plots.
The thing I never hear anybody complaining about is how long some shitty football game lasts, nor do I recall people ever bemoaning their outcast fate over having to binge-watch eight-hours of the cable-series-du-jour. Make a film over two hours though and you open the floodgates of tired complaining asses. Perhaps not oddly it’s always industry folks who complain about a film’s length, not the average moviegoer who can be swayed with endless advertising.
Interstellar may be the movie event of the season in the sense that it offers multiple formats (IMAX, 35 mm film, DCP) and the entire enterprise has been marketed off the board from magazine covers to advance trailers that have been running for months. Who doesn’t want to see a mega-expensive production from the director of Inception and starring a bevy of top name thesps? Overall I was very satisfied with Interstellar but the fact that it’s a mainly a quiet family drama may be drowned out by the fanfare. There are definite sci-fi elements to Interstellar, however this is no space opera – that would be Guardians of the Galaxy.
The future dystopian world of Interstellar consists of growing blighted crops to feed what’s left to whomever hasn’t died of starvation. There’s no Mad Max alpha male domination. Rather a society that raises children to be farmers not scientists. In school they teach that the Apollo program was faked in order to bankrupt the Russians. The reduced population just goes about their business, live frugally (although there seems to be plenty of gasoline), and waits for the next dust storm, which are as regular as clockwork.
This doesn’t go down well with Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) since he was formerly an astronaut for NASA before society collapsed. Cooper’s a widower and his family consists of his young son and daughter. The latter seems to have the ability to communicate with whatever paranormal events are going on with the family bookshelf. Certain books fall to the floor and the constant winds form patterns on the dusty floor in the shape of numbers and coordinates.
Interstellar wants to wallow in its character’s misery. John Lithgow, Ellen Burstyn, Michael Caine, Ann Hathaway, Wes Bently, Jessica Chastain, and a couple of others you don’t see in the trailers co-star. Chastain in particular has some emotional moments during an interstellar video message that nails the movie’s spine.
Cooper, using his daughter’s intuition, discovers that NASA still exists although the existence of the org is kept a secret from the hungry populace. Soon we’re on a space mission to a black hole that appeared a decade ago near Saturn. The mission has a Plan A objective to scout for new worlds for humans to inhabit. Plan B is a bit fuzzier. Concepts of relativity come into play as the members of the crew, headed by Cooper, age at a slower rate that those back on Earth. Before all is said and done Interstellar goes into areas where time and gravity form their own dimensions. Director Christopher Nolan mines these scenes for all the design and surrealism it would suggest. In some ways I thought that Nolan had combined the Escher-esque nature of Inception’s stairway and hotel hallway sequences with his thematic concerns regarding human evolution that abound in the film’s black hole climax.
Technically Interstellar has one of the best sound mixes I’ve ever heard. The subwoofers of the IMAX theatre were on overdrive. Interstellar demands the audience feel the thrust it takes to achieve orbit. All the space sequences are totally amazing. The dramatic action tends to bog down with some occasional wooden dialogue that belongs to a lesser movie. It’s clear that Nolan intends Interstellar to be his Long Day’s Journey Into Time and Space.
— Michael Bergeron