Movie Review: Interstellar

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When an unending dust bowl threatens to destroy all life on Earth, a team of astronauts is sent to another galaxy to establish a new home.

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Christopher Nolan, 2014

Farmer and former pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) struggles to get by in a future where a blight is wiping out all crops. He’s raising his son Tom (Timothee Chatamet) and brilliant daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy) with the help of their grandfather Donald (John Lithgow), growing corn as the blight gradually wipes out all other crops. With the help of an unknown force, Murph and Cooper discover a hidden NASA base, where Cooper’s old professor Brand (Michael Caine) asks Cooper to pilot a mission through a wormhole to another galaxy with planets that might sustain life. He and his teammates, including Brand’s daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway), are to rendezvous with scientists on three different planets. Meanwhile, on Earth, Murph helps Professor Brand find a way to get the people on Earth to their new home once it’s discovered.

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This modern 2001-wannabe is Nolan at his most grandiose. Clocking in at 169 minutes, the film tackles big issues and doesn’t entirely conquer them. It looks terrific. There are black holes and wormholes, planets with astonishing design concepts that are brought to life in realistic-looking ways; Earth is equally beautifully shot, though, all warm tones and long stretches of fields, with a thick layer of dust settling over everything. Our time on Earth presents an intriguing family drama set in near apocalyptic times, and it’s in this section that the movie really shines. Mackenzie Foy is terrific as young Murph, whip-smart and angry, with a strong connection to Matthew McConaughey as her father. Jessica Chastain builds from the strong foundation of the younger actress, continuing to make Murph the most interesting character in the movie as she grows up. The strong grounding on Earth makes the more grandiose space stuff less interesting in comparison.

There are a lot of plot holes in this movie. At his level of success, what Nolan really needs is someone to tell him no – he doesn’t need this much movie to tell a good story, and sometimes he needs to focus on one idea. Of course, it doesn’t help that the sentimental central idea sits at odds with the scientific focus of the rest of the film. When you have the supposedly brilliant scientific minds discussing how love trumps science, it feels more manipulative than true to the story, and I lost interest during the overblown finale. The scene seems to go forever, cutting frequently back and forth between Earth and space so many times it made me dizzy, the overbearing score building to an ear-shattering crescendo. The continuation of the McConaissance continues with McConaughey’s performance in this film, though it’s hard to buy him as a genius engineer, and he mumbles a lot. I’m not convinced that he’s the great actor he’s reported to be, not on the basis of this film, but he’s fine. Anne Hathaway is good but underserved by a script that does her supposedly logical, abrupt astronaut any favours. If you’re a fan of scifi, Interstellar is a must-see, but hopefully the next scifi epic will be a little more fun and a little less relentless.

Interstellar on IMDb

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