Movie Review: Interstellar

Posted: November 12, 2014 in Film
Tags: , , ,

I know it has been a while since my last post. A mixture of post-Halloween depression, busy work life, and a wonderful plethora of auditions has kept me away from my duties to all of you wonderful people reading the words I write! But never fear. The next few days, as long as I have the time, I hope to catch up on a few reviews and random blog posts. And I might as well start with this one…

Last weekend I saw Chris Nolan’s new film, Interstellar, a film I have anxiously been awaiting since first hearing about. Chris Nolan is a straight up blessing to modern cinema and I knew that this film would only secure that notion even more so. But even I, after watching the film, sat there in the theatre stunned at just how amazing this movie really was. If you follow film culture at all, your news feed the past week has probably been blowing up with posts of how stellar Interstellar is. Right off the bat I will tell you, it is good. It’s a masterpiece of cinema, plain and simple. That isn’t to say that it doesn’t have faults, which I will address. The movie is set in the not to distant future where the world had literally gone “ashes to ashes; dust to dust.’

Matthew McConaughey plays Cooper, who is an ex NASA pilot and currently a farmer who is trying to keep his fields alive. But the world is dieing, as are the crops. And pretty soon Earth will not be able to really sustain life due to the conditions. So NASA comes up with a backup plan (actually two,) so save the human race. We have to find another world, and the only way to do that is to leave ours. So Cooper, along with a few others are enlisted to embark on an interstellar mission to another galaxy to look for new, habitable worlds. The cost? Leaving family and loved ones behind, and possibly even not completing the mission before the human race dies.

The story is a lot, I replete,  A LOT more complex in all actuality than what I just outlined. But that is the “general” story line of the film. But it goes really deep into physics, space travel, the “human footprint,” and a lot more. It’s a beautiful, complicated, generally well crafted story handled in classic Nolan fashion.

The acting, across the board, was amazing. Especially from McConaughey. Coming from someone who loves his performance in Dallas Byers’ Club, I actually think that his performance in Interstellar is his best one to date. The video logs scenes alone should be reason enough to solidify this. They are heart breaking, and he is 100% committed in those scenes to making us feel the same kind of anguish he does. I’ve always liked McConaughey as an actor, and I’m glad that people are finally realizing and appreciating his potential.

Murph is arguably the main focus of the film, possibly only second to Cooper. I mean, she is “what it’s all about” (see the film, because I won’t be clarifying otherwise.) And all actresses playing this character, at various stages of her life, do an amazing job. First you have Murph at 10, played by Mackenzie Foy. Foy plays the character sincerely and with great depth. Not only does her intelligence and wits come out, but her emotion and feelings are strong. The 30’s-ish Murph is played by Jessica Chastain. She subtly plays that “clinging to anger” emotion while also holding on to hope that not only will she see her father again but can save the world as well. Anne Hathaway shines as Brand, and Michael Cain does a great job as her aging father who keeps a pretty dark secret. The list of other supporting characters goes on an on, and each one of them adds a different trait and emotional weight to the film. When they die, or perish in some way it’s felt who heatedly and Nolan captures that loss  in the movie.

Visually, this is Nolan’s best film. The locals are breathtaking, and sets are wonderful. Nolan has always been a “practical” effects and locations director and boy I love that. It adds a real grounded and real-life feel to the movie since a majority of the locations were indeed real. I’d so much rather see real locations and effects rather than CG. And what CG there was (because, well, it’s a space travel/inter dimensional travel sci-fi film, so there is obviously going to be some) is done really well. It all blends together seamlessly in the movie, and nothing ever flashes out to the viewer as fake or unreal unless it is done on propose (I.E- the inner workings of the black hole/ inter dimensional world.)

Now, Christopher Nolan is obviously a director who acknowledges, appreciates, and honors the history and art of film making. He understands “the magic”  of seeing movies, and what makes a good movie and a good film going experience. This is both Nolan’s blessing and curse. While it is assured that Nolan’s work will be quality and amazing, it also means that perhaps thing’s get messy and rushed towards the end. My theory as to why- Nolan never wants his movies to end. His pacing is perfect, generally, for the first two-thirds of his films. It’s full of twists, and turns, and emotions, until we get to the final act and it feels like he realizes “Crap, I have to actually end/finish the movie.” The third act then feels slightly rushed to end, and while it’s satisfying you get the sense that it isn’t on the same level as the rest of the film. Now, this is more evident in some of Nolan’s work than others, but it’s almost evident in all of his films I feel- especially Interstellar. The whole film is fairly evenly paced, and well explained until the final portion which then brushes over a lot of details and questions. Don’t get me wrong, the ending is great and moving but it still feels hurried. I know Nolan isn’t a fan of director’s cuts but I feel like this film deserves to go just that tad bit longer to explain things more clearly and concisely rather than leaving it a slightly convoluted rush.

Hans Zimmer’s score took me a little bit of getting used to because it is just completely out of the box for him, and not his normal style. But I think that is why I ended up liking it. Because it is so different. While there are moments that I feel the use of music could have been toned down it really shines through in the more action filled and tension building scenes. My biggest problem with it wast that there were moments when the score completely overpowered the dialogue of the actors on screen. Not sure if that was a mixing problem or a problem with the theatre I saw it at. Regardless it ends up being a beautiful score in the end.

Go, see this movie. In fact, spend the extra and see it in IMAX. I was actually planning on doing that but the ONE time I don’t preorder my tickets they sell out of IMAX. The person right in front of me bought the last ticket for the showing. IMAX is the way Nolan intended for the movie to be seen, having apparently shot a majority of it with the IMAX cameras (which I’m so glad. I’d rather more directors start doing this than keeping going with the stupid 3D trend. It’s so pointless, and I’d rather get the amazing picture that IMAX has to offer.) It’s thick, plot wise, but a lot of Nolan’s films are. So if you’re expecting a “shut your mind off” kind of film this isn’t it. But it is engaging. It does slow down a bit in the middle, but really it doesn’t mess with the overall pacing of the film. It’s a cinematic work of art and craftsmanship across the board.

  1. Jonathan Nolan says:

    I think Nolan wanted to introduce a whole bunch of Christian elements to the film. Here are some interesting points:

    1) Church Organ soundtrack through the whole film.

    2) Shots of Coop and Brand with eyes and hands closed praying

    3) We have Christian Trinity: Cooper represents the Father and Holy Spirit/Ghost (once he joins with Tesseract). Murph represents the Son a.k.a Jesus the savior (remember she was 10 years old at start and after 23 years time dilation was 33 when she “saves” the world – same age as Jesus dies). They both represent the Holy trinity.

    4) We have an otherworldly unknown powerful presence who created the wormhole and tessaract that guide the events of the film – aka Godlike who has have basically interfered with and guided Coop throughout his life going as far as to construct a tesseract for one particular moment in time. God advocates true love and is major theme of film with father and daughter.

    5) There were 12 original astronauts sent out onto the planets – There were 12 apostles of Jesus sent out for his gospel.

    6) Cooper also spends decades wandering desolate environments,”Lazarus”. Dies and is reborn at black hole.

    7) Holy Spirit/Ghost Coop reaching out to touch people (including hand shake scene white light)

    8) And just like Jesus after his resurrection, he came back (albeit 3 days vs. 70-something years) then left again after a very short period of time.

    9) Literal Noah’s Ark with at end with Cooper space station transporting humanity.

    10) Adam and Eve with Coop and Brand (embryos for Plan B – start new race).

    Liked by 1 person

    • jmaloneacts says:

      First off thank you very much for reading my review. It is a great honor. This film, along with many other great films, would not be here without your skills. You are not recognized nearly enough, good sir.

      Secondly, you make a lot of really good points.
      Admittedly throughout the film I was questioning the relationship between the characters and God. Their faith, and what all of this means to them. Specifically points 3 and 4 that you make I caught and pondered about quite a bit. How love itself is viewed in the film, as this other worldly emotion itself that “transcends time and space” just evokes thoughts about God to me. That love, or His love, is the one thing that is constant. And Brand’s line “You might have to decide between seeing your children again and the future of the human race” really, actually, had me thinking about God’s sacrifice of his son really. Cooper (as God) having to essentially give his children up, to save humanity.

      Really some of this, on my part, may be over thinking it. But that is what great film, like literature, does I think. It makes you think and analyze what it means to you. Is there hidden subtext behind it all, or it it just entertainment. What you bring to the experience with your own beliefs, and though, and experiences play a vital role as well.

      Interstellar is the kind of film that will be analyzed for years, and put down as not only a classic but a pillar. People will question meanings and motives, as well as just find pure joy and entertainment with it.

      Thanks again, for your comments and thoughts! Highly appreciated, and more than welcome any time.


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