11/07/2014

Interstellar (2014) ***

Whew. What a lofty film. And what a love/hate relationship I have with it after my first viewing. First let me get it out of the way that I think Christopher Nolan is a "good" filmmaker. I happen to love MEMENTO and THE PRESTIGE and I'm apt to classify both films as masterpieces. I happen to  think INSOMNIA and INCEPTION are "good" films. In the case of INSOMNIA the original film is better, but Nolan's version benefits from some great lead performances. And I happen to think his Batman films are overrated and actually don't hold up all that well on repeat viewings. What I admire about Nolan is his willingness to take chances and craft interesting and beautiful-looking films that can equally entertain and frustrate. I'll always go see his films because he's definitely not a "boring" filmmaker. Now on to INTERSTELLAR...

**SPOILERS**

Essentially it's a modern version of ARMAGEDDON. It even includes a lot of cringe-inducing, eye-rolling, "heartfelt"/"important-sounding"/"heavy gravitas"/"action movie" dialogue. It has some typically tense time-dependent scenes (some of which are excellent and some of which are dumb). It is reminiscent of 2001, but it definitely does its own thing. It's just that it's "own thing" is a gorgeous-to-look-at but incredibly generic "love is the answer" plot. The biggest link I could find to 2001 was actually that I felt Matt Damon's character was sort of the human equivalent of HAL. But I have to say when he showed up I laughed out loud (I wasn't the only one) and all I could think was "Matt Damon." It would have been interesting to see Steven Soderbergh, who frequently (and successfully) collaborates with Damon, tackle this film. Though he already made an excellent remake of SOLARIS (with a gorgeous score by Cliff Martinez), as far as sci-fi "love" stories go, his take would have been decidedly more "cold" and Kubrickian, I'm sure.

INTERSTELLAR features a great score by Hans Zimmer, which evokes Philip Glass' score for KOYAANISQATSI and Clint Mansell's score for MOON (which is a far better sci-fi space movie, if you ask me). The score really is the film's strongest point, to my mind. It's unusual and sounds nothing like Zimmer's previous work. The special f/x are also absolutely seamless and top-notch. The acting is also fine from pretty much everyone, even though I can't understand what McConaughey is saying half the time. As if his southern-accent mumbling wasn't hard enough to understand, a lot of the sound mix is so brick-walled that it makes it near impossible to decipher. 

Ultimately, there's just not enough positives I can find with this film to balance out the terrible ham-fisted storyline and running time. Nolan feels the need to tie up EVERYTHING (which I felt was incredibly unnecessary), in typical Spielberg fashion. In fact, Spielberg was originally attached to direct this film - his take would have been intriguing, as his output is certainly mixed (though much more consistently great IMO and the man has made MANY flat-out classics). I wanted to like INTERSTELLAR so much more, but it's definitely not a bad film at all. It's just destined to be an overrated blockbuster that probably won't age well, in my opinion.

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