Interstellar ★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

There's a lot of talk about what's "meant" to happen in Interstellar. "Humanity was born on earth. It was never meant to die here" Cooper says. Many more sentiments like this are echoed throughout the film, begging the question "Who, or what, means for these things to happen?"

Final Warning: Hardcore Spoilers Below.

Well, according to the film, humanity. Or rather, hyper-evolved fifth dimensional beings that used to be humanity... or something. Cooper jumps to this conclusion (somewhat unscientifically I might add) after creating a time loop when interacting with his daughter from the past. In Interstellar, humanity is simultaneously forging and heeding it's own destiny. Humanity is deciding it's fate while beholden to the decisions of their past and future selves.

This is interesting stuff, but I'm not really sure what to do with it, and neither is Interstellar. Ostensibly, the film is hard science fiction grounded in the bond between Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and his daughter Murphy (Jessica Chastain and Mackenzie Foy, both giving excellent performances in roles far too small for them). And to the films credit, Interstellar contains some of the most striking moments of pathos in Nolan's entire filmography. The scene where Cooper watches his family's lives unfold on a video screen over twenty years is perhaps the most affecting scene of Nolan's career. Unfortunately, moments like these are few and far between, and that's a big problem in a nearly 3-hour film.

Instead, we get exposition and explanations and a lot of them. I can't blame Nolan too much for trying to give his audience a crash course in science to appreciate what's going on, but necessity doesn't always excuse monotony. Still, there are some interesting questions that the movie poses; what is humanity's destiny? Where is our place in the stars? Are the hypothetical lives of our descendants and the survival of the species more important than the people alive today? These are questions worth asking, and the film asks these and more. However, in the nearly 3 hours of screen time it never explores any one of them quite as effectively as it could have.

For all the incredible, other-wordly effects (that wormhole and the black hole were absolutely incredible) the film still falters when it comes to exploring the complexities of human emotions. The film certainly acknowledges these complexities, with many conversations about love and fatherhood and what not, but it never seems to dwell on them for long. Case in point: the ending. The fact that a father who literally saved the entire human race for his daughter would be willing to leave her on her deathbed after a two minute conversation isn't just ludicrous, it's maddening. In attempt to relieve Cooper's tragedy at missing the life of his only daughter, the film sends him to find Anne Hathaway because "humans are explorers" and "I wanna see where we're going" and blah-blah-blah. The ending is a complete betrayal of the film's emotional core, and that's almost unforgivable.

Interstellar is a ride worth taking, but it's still deeply flawed. Many of Nolan's movies fall into this category, but Interstellar is just so big and so unfocused that, to me, it ends up being one of Nolan's weakest efforts.

On another, slightly more subjective note, there's a certain hubris to this film that I found distasteful. One of my favorite things about sci-fi epics like 2001: A Space Odyssey (yup, I'm doing it too) or The Tree of Life is that they allow us to look at the cosmos in wonder and awe of our tiny, tiny place in it. In Interstellar, humanity doesn't just conquer the stars, it conquers the dimensions. We transcend time and space to save ourselves from an unforgiving universe... and I'm just not sure we're that important.

Connor liked this review