BreakingModern — Christopher Nolan’s new movie Interstellar is a monumental and massively ambitious film. Viewers are blasted off into wormholes, black holes and quantum gravity as they follow mega-stars Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway into the far reaches of space and time.
Epic, Sure. But too Far
Yes, it is epic. But the problem with Interstellar is that it’s too epic. With Interstellar, I believe that director Christopher Nolan suffered from the “successful director curse.” That’s when a director reaches a certain level of success and the producers and studios loosen the reins and let the director make the movie he/she wants. When this happens, a director often loses sight of the audience in the pursuit of his or her massive vision. It happens to the best of them, including Clint Eastwood (Hereafter), Coen Brothers (The Ladykillers), Oliver Stone (Alexander) and Tim Burton (Dark Shadows). Nolan’s best films — Memento and The Dark Knight — were tightly wound, character-driven stories. Interstellar is not.
With Interstellar, Nolan created a 169-minute film that pulls together complex scientific concepts including time dilation (the passing of time at different rates for different observers), quantum gravity (the reconciliation of relativity and quantum mechanics), Einstein’s theory of relativity, time travel and the power of love as a primal force of the universe. With so much science (Nolan and his brother consulted a theoretical physicist while drafting the screenplay), Interstellar is preposterously epic.
And despite its overt ideals and sense of wonder hammered over and over again, it’s an epic worth seeing. It may go down as the worst Christopher Nolan film, but seeing it on the big screen is wonderful, just to see how far a director can dive into the wormhole of science and film. Also, the views of Saturn spinning through a wormhole and entering a black hole are a feast for the eyes.
Plot and Character (Some Spoilers Here)
Interstellar stars Matthew McConaughey, whose character seems a lot like Rust Cohle, McConaughey’s True Detective character who drones on and on about time being “a flat circle.” McConaughey plays a former NASA astronaut turned farmer whose eyes are still set on the sky. The earth is near its end as nitrogen levels are increasing, dust storms are rampant and corn is one of the last food crops that can grow. Once he discovers a secret NASA station and Michael Caine, who plays a scientist dedicated to saving the planet, McConaughey decides he should leave his children and find a new planet humans can live on.
That’s about 45 minutes into the movie and it’s a long, drawn-out setup. Things get interesting when the crew finally blasts off into space, and we get to see the ship rocket by Saturn and chase a wormhole. But in space so much of the dialogue is spent on discussing scientific subjects with poor sound quality, which makes it difficult to understand. The story sort of gets lost in its own wormhole.
Then, Matt Damon shows up on a random planet and starts acting strange. The movie eventually saves itself with a highly entertaining, mind-bending climax that touches on the fourth dimension of space and time, and love as “the one thing that transcends time and space.”
Interstellar isn’t a bad film. It’s actually quite good and worth seeing. But at nearly every step of the story you can sense that Nolan is straining and reaching for something more profound and emotional than he’s ever achieved in his previous films. While I admire him for such vision and will continue to be a fan, Interstellar gets weighed down by its own heavy gravity of ambition.
For BMod, I’m Chandler Harris.
Header/First image credit: “space” by Sweetie187 via Flickr Creative Commons
Second image credit: By NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons