What the fuck did I just watch?
Surely, that’s the first thought you should have after sitting in a theater for 3 hours watching Interstellar. My issue with 2-hour movies is well-documented. Just imagine my level of excitement in anticipation of Interstellar’s daunting 169-minute runtime. Although the first act passes by rather quickly, the time it takes to progress through the second act feels equivalent to the passage of time on Miller’s planet. And if you didn’t fall asleep prior to the third act, then you probably wish you did when it mercifully ends.
Interstellar has some great moments, but those very brief glimpses were few and far between vast stretches of boringness. The story is a total fucking mess, and the ending is telegraphed by the very first line in the movie. As long as you stay awake, you should know exactly where everything is heading.
It’s not rocket science. Or astrophysics.
All Christopher Nolan movies are well-made and typically visually striking, but there’s always some gimmick involved. Follow the quirky hooks—which often deal with the handling of time—in Following, Memento, The Prestige, Inception, and Interstellar. Inception was a fucking mess of the same proportions as Interstellar. People want to feel self-important so they’ll claim to like a movie such as Inception.
I dare you to challenge anyone who likes Inception to tell you why it’s a good movie, and then enjoy a hearty laugh at their inability to say anything. The most memorable aspect of Inception is Leonardo DiCaprio’s stupid facial expression turned into a meme.
If not for Heath Ledger’s legendary performance, The Dark Knight trilogy would likely be remembered differently. Batman Begins was mostly a boring origin story with lots of ninja training while The Dark Knight Rises was a botched and bloated attempt to re-create The Dark Knight with better special effects. Christopher Nolan is a great director, but I find his writing ultimately unsatisfying and underdeveloped.
In his movies, there’s always an element missing that’s needed to elevate the unremarkable story.
Interstellar is no different. Suspension of disbelief is important—particularly for sci-fi movies. But the monumental plot holes in this script aren’t acceptable for a movie of this quality. The lack of logic or any reasoning at all behind key decisions and plot points is absolutely befuddling.
Somewhere in the near future, Earth is dying and life will no longer last on the planet.
Why? Global warming or some shit like that.
In Interstellar, it’s referred to as the blight, which brings miserable dust storms and an awful cough that kills your lungs. We already have this in our reality—it’s called Arizona and Valley Fever. But it’s all over the place and about 100 times worse in Interstellar. As a result, humanity is forced to look anywhere and everywhere for an answer, which is found in the stars.
And the stars open up and offer us an opportunity in the form of a wormhole orbiting Saturn.
As the audience, we perceive all of this through the eyes of Cooper (played by Matthew McConaughey), a former NASA pilot turned farmer. Cooper has two children: Murphy and Tom. Cooper really only cares about one of his children. Guess which one. Predictably, it’s not the one with a dick.
Coop’s beloved daughter, Murph—a terrible nickname since it is only shorter by one letter—is experiencing some whacky ghost shit in her bedroom by way of books being knocked off her shelf. Somehow they discover this isn’t random. Someone or something is trying to communicate with them.
Spoiler: the call is coming from inside the house.
The coded message is actually latitude and longitude coordinates.
Hijinks ensues in this episode of Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper where Coop ‘n Murph travel to the location the mysterious ghost told them about in that coded message. Our dynamic duo stumble upon a top secret NASA site dedicated to humanity’s last ditch effort to find a new home via the aforementioned wormhole orbiting Saturn. This meticulously crafted expedition to explore these 3 promising new planets is mere days away from happening, but now they can’t possibly go without a semi-experienced pilot like Coop.
This is where things get truly bat shit crazy.
One minute they didn’t bother to look him up in the phone book to see if he was alive. The next minute, Cooper mistakenly stumbles upon the site location (protected by a single measly chain-link fence with some barbwire) and he’s replacing the pilot. While I would love to ruin the rest of the movie by discussing the various other gaping black holes in the story, the redeeming factor is the incredible effects. If you wade through the muck and mire of this 3-hour slog, your reward is a stunning depiction of deep space.
But the problem with Interstellar remains the same as other Nolan movies.
Interstellar cannot withstand the burden of its flimsy premise. Basically, Interstellar is a better version of Gravity with more gravitas. But as an epic film with massive hype, the audience is bound to be disappointed. Interstellar does not live up to the lofty expectations and hype because the story is not anywhere near the same level as the acting and directing.
Matthew McConaughey’s career resurgence continues with this movie, but there was nothing McConaughey could do to elevate Interstellar. For the most part, the acting is adequate, but unremarkable. The movie didn’t need him, and another actor could’ve easily replaced McConaughey. As far as I can tell, Christopher Nolan just wanted a good looking guy with great abs to provide some downhome enthusiasm to counterbalance Anne Hathaway because people find her cold and unapproachable. While this role won’t earn him another Oscar, I’m hopeful McConaughey will still try to swing for the fences every year. At the very least, McConaughey gets to explore exotic locations and doing sit-ups while riding a bike shirtless.
Perhaps the best actor in Interstellar is someone whose face never actually appears on the screen. Bill Irwin voices the robot TARS (Terrain Assistance Robotic Support), which will likely serve as the only memory remaining years after watching this movie—and not because it’s basically pluralizing my last name. If that technology existed, there’s virtually no reason for this to be a human expedition.
With that level of artificial intelligence intertwined with a story regarding the relative passage of time, Interstellar would serve as an interesting case study for a philosophy paper on Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time. What determines our being? Is being possible without a being to understand being?
According to Heidegger, the answer to those questions is Dasein, which is a German word meaning being-there or existence. In this context, Dasein refers to how we (beings) experience being. While TARS is programmed with adjustable levels of humor, sarcasm, and other human emotions, the intelligence is artificial and lacking the awareness of being. Do we cease being if there are no more beings?
Being involves questioning important issues such as individuality, mortality, and the paradox of being with others while being alone. Although this may sound like the work of The Riddler, I believe Interstellar would have benefitted from a much more philosophical questioning of being. The broad strokes of the story were salvageable because the fundamental focus of the movie is humanity looking to the stars to find a way to save humanity. If this expedition fails, then humans will certainly face extinction.
Ultimately, Interstellar suffers as a result of Christopher Nolan’s writing. It is the glaring issue that prevents this concept from being stellar on-screen. Imagine if Christopher Nolan directed a movie written by someone with the ingenuity of Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation., and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)? I’ll continue to watch Christopher Nolan’s movie for the spectacle alone, but his writing desperately needs to elevate to the quality of his directing.
Ambition stretches only so far before a breaking point where the story cannot support the structure.
For a film that traverses the vast unknown of space, Interstellar is flat and one-dimensional in its depiction of various dimensions. I can’t decide if Interstellar is a good bad movie or a bad good movie. Either way, I’ll never devote another 3 hours of my life to watching Interstellar again.
Everyone else gets older, but Matthew McConaughey stays the same age.
3 out of 5 stars