Interstellar suffers from overreaching with it’s grand idea. It tries to be very clever and make a bold statement. There is nothing wrong with this but when it is realised and executed as poorly as it is here, you end up with the best movie of the year being tarnished and in some cases, slightly ruined.
What comes before the big mistake in the final act is pure brilliance. From the opening scenes which are simply talking heads, the film grabs you and never let’s go. Director Christopher Nolan perfectly crafts a world which is dying by taking the first part of the three-hour running time to show how life is changing for our main characters. It’s a great way of drip-feeding the story without actually having a character spell everything out for the viewer.
In fact it works so well that when we get to the traditional appearance of Michael Cain in a Nolan movie, and his character does spell out the movie in a huge piece of exposition, it is quite jarring. It’s easy to see why Nolan does this because he then uses the rest of the movie to make a great science-fiction film.
What makes this such a great science-fiction film is that it isn’t too fantastical. We aren’t talking about lightsabers, aliens and transporters but something resembling a recognisable, not too distant future. People in spacesuits, NASA shuttles and docking sequences which have more in common with Gravity and Apollo 13 than they do with Star Wars.
It is when Nolan transports the audience to distant planets and space phenomena that the movie really shines. The imagery, the landscapes and the worlds that are interacted with, both on planets and in space itself, are realised fantastically. It feels like other worlds without being too unrealistic.
It helps that the characters themselves make the worlds seem so real too. Matthew McConaughey adds another great role to his career renaissance, doing the bulk of the heavy lifting that the movie requires. From tear-jerking moments with his daughter to comedic conversations with a sarcastic robot, McConaughey gets you on his side from the very beginning of the movie.
The rest of the cast do an able job but have very little impact. The drama that is attempted sometimes feel rushed unless it’s about McConaughey’s Cooper. Some of the bigger ideas surrounding these characters are done very well, like the impact of time and relativity but then others, like the idea of love as a scientific concept, feel tagged-on and under-developed.
It’s the bigger concepts which ultimately undo all the good work the film manages to do. A single moment, which I won’t spoil here for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie, manages to turn the film into something else and stretches credibility or common sense.
Nolan clearly has a big idea he wants to convey and it over-shadows the whole movie but when the idea is finally realised, it is done in such a bizarre way that it never has the intended impact Nolan was probably going for. Considering the idea isn’t exactly a revolutionary one, there were so many different, better ways it could have been done. In fact there are some many better, different ways it has been done in Sci-Fi before.
The result is, unfortunately, a jarring moment in the film that makes for a very weak final act and ending. We go from something very tense, realistic and cool to a movie that lunges sharply into “silly.”
Overall, Interstellar was my movie of the year for the first three-quarters and then manages to undo all it’s excellent with a bizarre, silly final act. It’s a real shame because Nolan delivers a movie with fantastic visuals, a great initial story and a stella (sorry) performance from Matthew McConaughey. I just wish he’d kept his science-fiction “simple.”
Rating – 4
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)