Guns’ Guide to Movies: Interstellar

Interstellar was one of the most anticipated films of the 2014 oscar season, and, unsurprisingly, it just couldn’t live up to the hype. It’s an absolutely beautiful film with some of the most stunning visuals I’ve ever seen, but it fails to hold the audience’s interest.

Interstellar stars Matthew McConaughey as former astronaut-turned-farmer Cooper. In the future, the earth is experiencing a second dust bowl. Our planet is scarcely low on food and other resources. Everyone is expected to farm to feed the population.Interstellar2 When Cooper stumbles upon NASA (now a secret organization), he is asked to join a team of astronauts on a mission to explore three planets in the far reaches of space that could serve as a new home for Earth’s population. They will have to travel through a wormhole to reach their destination. With the encouragement of the mission’s creator, Professor Brand (Michael Caine), Cooper agrees to join Brand’s daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway), two other crew members, and two artificially intelligent robots, TARS and CASE on a mission from which there is no guarantee they will return. He chooses to leave his late wife’s father (John Lithgow) and his two children, Murphy (Mackenzie Foy, later played by Jessica Chastain) and Tom (Timothée Chalamet, later played by Casey Affleck) behind to save the future of the human race.

If you’ve seen any “space exploration” movie ever, you’ve pretty much seen the first hour and a half of Interstellar. While I personally thought the “second dust bowl” idea was really interesting, everything after that was familiar and boring. You get the feeling that Christopher Nolan didn’t spend nearly enough time in the editing process. There are several scenes that feel out of place and unnecessary.

The film also has a problem with wasting much of its talent. John Lithgow gets a criminally small amount of screen time, while Michael Caine actually gets too much. Casey Affleck as the adult version of Cooper’s son Tom is given very little to work with. His character is flat and uninteresting. I tend to think that Casey Affleck is underutilized in almost every film he’s in, but that might just be me.

The biggest problem with Interstellar is that is simply doesn’t make much sense. Not because it’s over complicated (though it kind of is), but because of the large amount of plot holes and so many things that go unexplained. Cooper is supposed to be a former NASA pilot and a science genius, but other characters keep having to explain things like the theory of relativity to him.Interstellar Even when the team has already ventured through the black hole and are in the middle of the mission, Cooper is unaware about so many aspects of how time will affect them and other things that definitely should have been explained to him before they left Earth. Matt Damon makes a cameo about half way through the film and it feels weird and forced the whole time he’s on screen. The film tries to create a love story for Amelia, but it’s never really explained and fails to create any meaningful emotional context for the audience.

The biggest positive I can say about Interstellar is that Christopher Nolan still knows how to pull off the “big reveal”. That point when all the different elements of the story all come together beautifully in one shining moment. I won’t ruin the scene for you, but I thought the way it was executed was fascinating and unexpected. It would have been the perfect ending, leaving you wanting just a bit more, but the film simply refuses to end.

This is a problem I have been seeing in a lot of recent films where the writer seems to think that the only way an audience can experience catharsis is if each and every loose end is tied up and we are shown what has become of all the characters regardless of importance. This is not the case at all. I, and I would assume most of the viewing public, have no problem with some questions going unanswered. Most events in real life don’t always reach their logical conclusion, so when we see stories on screen reach the end with everything all wrapped up with a neat little bow, it can feel inauthentic. Interstellar makes sure to revisit every character at the end of the film just in case you were keeping track of where they were, even though they stopped being important about an hour ago. These scenes are unnecessary and distract from the wonderful climax that just happened.

Interstellar was a gamble, and, while it seems that Christopher Nolan made the film he wanted to make, I’m not sure if that’s completely a good thing. I think that in our modern cinema culture surrounding the “auteur”, sometimes directors forget that film is a collaborative art form. Yes, there needs to be a driving creative force, but having a director who will actively listen to criticism and who surrounds him or herself with people not afraid to give informed criticism is much more important than a towering figure that no one dares to question. I would hate to see Christopher Nolan go the way of George Lucas, a once brilliant creator who became a parody of himself. I mean, when you think about it, auteur theory is great, but it also gave us the Star Wars Prequels. Think about it.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars