“You don’t believe we went to the Moon?”
I don’t know why, but last year, I couldn’t get excited, or even manage to give the least of shits, about Interstellar. I’m not anti Christopher Nolan, but I do think I was suffering a little from Nolan fatigue. I like The Prestige and I don’t care how many plot and logic holes people find in Inception, I really dig that too. I think it’s the constant browbeating by fans of his Batman series that made me feel like Interstellar was just going to be too much.
Nolan’s Batmans are perfectly good movies, way above average for the super hero genre, but that’s about the extent of it. I also think their perfect examples of his biggest weakness. Nolan makes over the top, spectacle movies, but he obviously thinks he’s doing something more than that, because he has a message, something he thinks is important to say. The only problem is, those messages are always the most obvious, cliched statements about life and the human condition, juts dressed up under layers and layers of bombast to seem profound and new.
So the thought of a Christopher Nolan movie about the human race’s last chance at survival through the search for a new world, just seemed like more ham fisted pontificating than I could handle. But now that the hype has died down, I felt like I was finally ready for Interstellar.
It’s a few generations from now and the world isn’t in such a great place. After years of famine, the planet Earth has at least recovered enough to grow vast crops of corn to sufficiently feed the population. Corn farmed by people like Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a former astronaut who discovers the now secret NASA organisation. Along with his young daughter, Murph (later to played by Jessica Chastain) they learn of a mission to save humanity before the corn fields disappear like every other crop.
Some unseen alien-type beings have been sending messages to Earth, altering NASA scientists to a wormhole near Saturn that could be a portal to life sustaining planets. Cooper is recruited to join one of these missions and he heads off with several other scientists / astronauts, including Anne Hathaway as Brand. Once on their mission, plenty of expositional science jargon explains that time will move different while they’re away, meaning everyone they love on Earth will live through decades while the space travelers experience only a month or two. Which means every single second in space is even more crucial in their mission to save the people still living on Earth.
Interstellar indulges in all of Nolan’s worst tendencies, by constantly having these characters tell each other and the audience how much they love their families, or how important their mission is, or how much they’ve hurt each other. The only problem is, it’s so busy telling us all these things, it never really shows it.
It’s also really concerned with reality and sticking to the hard science of the real world, as Nolan’s way of trying to give his fantastical notions a little more weight. That is, it’s concerned with the hard science until it gets inconvenient and the big payoff needs something a little more fantastical. The lengths taken to make an accurate looking black hole are impressive, I guess. But the shine of all of that research is kind of taken off the movie when it all comes down to what is basically magic and fantasy.
Interstellar looks great. Interstellar is made really well on a technical level. Interstellar is full of awesome performances. Including some from great actors in pretty central roles who I had no idea were even in it. All of that is more than enough to make Interstellar worth almost three hours of your time. Just don’t get too caught up in the specifics of the story and plot. Because that’s where Interstellar falls apart. Not because it doesn’t make sense, but because it’s just kind of boring.