November 7, 2014

Interstellar

Director Christopher Nolan is in a sweet spot where he has unlimited resources to make his movies and he has grand ambitions and epic vision to match. Other directors are given hundreds of millions of dollars, only seek to blow shit up in an amazing way, and possibly make us tear up a little at the end. That's the limit of their ambition.

Interstellar is not based on an old movie, an old TV show, or a comic book.
It's not a "reboot" of an existing franchise.
There are no weapons, two explosions, one car chase, and one brief and deeply lame wrestling match.
There will be no sequels.
So it pains me to criticize the movie.

I am deeply conflicted to say bad things about the only movie I've ever seen that so thoroughly explores the nuts and bolts of real "hard" science fiction.
How many movies can you name that deal with relativity, hibernation, air braking, slingshot trajectories, and both kinds of holes (black and worm?) I love that stuff!
The spaceships, and the wormhole travel, and the alien worlds all look just different enough from Earth to be both believable and eerie at the same time.
This is not a "saving the world" movie where saving the world means pressing a red button with 1 second remaining. This is a "find another world for humanity to live on, and do it quickly before we all asphyxiate and starve to death."
I appreciate the harsh truth of a mission to find another planet to colonize on a mission with zero margin for error, but the problem is, Nolan also wants to make a movie about fathers and children, the survival instinct, and the duty parents have to their children. His goal is to stitch that powerful parental instinct and stitch it together with saving all of mankind, not just his daughter, and there he falls short.
There is fat that could be trimmed. Long sequences early in the movie could be cut out. After they revive an earlier scientist/explorer, I'm not sure why his character, or the events surrounding him, are even in the movie?
Maybe this is an artifact of two brothers writing the screenplay. Sometimes a shorter movie is a better movie. Interstellar is 11 minutes short of 3 hours.
I have truly enjoyed three of his movies (Batman Begins, The Prestige, and The Dark Knight) and liked but not loved four others (Insomnia, Memento, Inception, and Dark Knight Rises) and I will continue to hold him to a high standard.
My Stub Hubby grade: A-minus

Notes: The 35mm film print looked AMAZING. I have been mostly indifferent to digital projection, but upon watching a movie meticulously made on 35mm, I can really appreciate the deep dark colors, especially in a space movie. There have been complaints about the "muddy" sound mix, and I can attest that there were several scenes where I could not follow all the dialog, but I think Nolan knows this and writes accordingly. Early in the movie Matthew McConaughey and his kids spot an "Indian drone" flying over their midwest cornfields, hack into its guidance system, and take it for themselves. Which kind of Indians are they? Why are they spying on cornfields? What the heck is going on here? I don't know, but it doesn't really matter- I know plenty enough to understand the movie.
Somerville Theater Screen 1 With Adam

Also By Chris Nolan on Stub Hubby