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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Interstellar | Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, Topher Grace, John Lithgow | Review

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3sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE Judy Thorburn

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3lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE

 

Interstellar

Christopher Nolan used to be one of my favorite filmmakers. I say “used to be” because I loved Memento, Insomnia, and his reboot of the Batman franchise. Then he made Inception, which I found visually stunning and ambitious, but too convoluted for its own good. The same could be said for his latest film, Interstellar, a sci fi fantasy adventure he directed and co-wrote with his brother Jonathan (The Dark Knight, The Prestige). Cloaked in secrecy with little information about the film made public until a few weeks before its release, I wonder if Nolan, himself, could come up with a comprehensible description.
There is no denying Nolan is a visionary with lofty, thought provoking ideas, but once again, his imagination runs away with him and he fails to convey those ideas in a cohesive manner.

Interstellar is set in the not to distant future. The earth has been ravaged by enormous dust storms that have killed off most of our crops. The poisonous atmosphere is causing people to eventually suffocate and die and the only hope for humankind's survival is to find a home on another inhabitable planet.   
The story follows Joseph “Coop” Cooper (Matthew McConnaughy), a widowed engineer and former NASA pilot turned farmer, whom the government  has asked to harvest corn, which he does with the help of his father in law, Don (John Luthgow), smart as a whip, ten year old daughter Murph (Mackensie Foy) and 15 year old son Tom (Timothée Chalamet, Casey Affleck, as an adult).  One day, Murph tells her dad she is being visited by a ghost in her room that has been trying to communicate with her. Coop dismisses the idea until dust forms a pattern on the floor of her room as Morse Code that leads both he and his daughter to a secret NASA base led by Professor Brand (Michael Caine). That is where the professor tells Coop that a distant worm hole has been discovered near Saturn leading to a new galaxy and potential new home planet for the human race. As part of the Lazarus mission that was mounted a decade earlier in hopes of saving mankind from extinction, Coop is asked to pilot the spacecraft Endurance and lead a crew that includes Brand’s scientist daughter Amelia (Hathaway), an astrophysicist  (David Gyasi), a geographer (a bearded Wes Bentley), and a robot (voiced by Bill Irwin) named TARS that will take them on a journey into the cosmos that transcends time and space.

The thought of her Dad leaving on this dangerous mission and not knowing if he would ever return, outrages Murph, whose is already motherless. Although she begs Coop to stay, he agrees to take part in the mission, believing it is for the greater good, but knowing all too well that leaving her behind means the daughter he loves with all his heart, might be orphaned. Upon his arrival into deep space, every hour equals seven years on earth and it would be many decades before he returns.  Promising to come back isn't any consolation and Murph is left angry and hurt, emotions that she carries into adulthood (played byJessica Chastain).

Along the way the space explorers encounter dangerous challenges, obstacles, discoveries and personal revelations.  That's as much as I will say without giving any spoilers.

Now, to the nitty gritty. For a filmmaker whose vision is grand, Nolan fails to reach that scale, for his ambition exceeds his execution. For one thing, the movie is overloaded with too many elements to juggle in one storyline as well as some unexplained events.  Add talk about black holes, worm holes, quantum physics, gravity equations, relativity, singularity, time and space continuum, and other scientific jargon, which, unless you majored in physics, are too complicated and hard to grasp.

Also, I expected to be blown away by the visuals/special effects and instead found them to be just adequate and not spectacular. Nolan was obviously influenced by Stanley Kubick's 2001 A Space Odyssey, as this films includes a few nods to that sci fi masterpiece. Yet, with all the latest high tech innovations/wizardry at his disposal, the visual effects in Interstellar don't even come close to matching the brilliant eye popping visuals of that movie, which was made back in 1968.

Another problem is that at times, Hans Zimmer's music score overwhelms the dialogue to the point that I couldn't make out what was being said, including a major scene with Michael Caine.

That isn't to say there aren't some things I really liked about the film. What grabbed me the most is the underlying theme of strong love bonds that transcends the dimensions of time and space and just might be the most powerful force of all.

As for the acting, Matthew McConnaughy, once again turns in an outstanding, emotionally charged performance and Jessica Chastain equally shines in her smaller but pivotal role. There is also a surprise appearance by an A list actor that shows up to add some conflict and a meaningful portrayal by an Oscar winning veteran actress, both of whose names I refuse to divulge.

I wanted so much to walk out of Interstellar filled with awe and amazement, but left with my head spinning and confused trying to decipher much of what I had just seen. That's too bad. I was hoping to give Interstellar a stellar review, and because of that, I cannot.

 

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