Paul Lister’s review published on Letterboxd :
“Maybe we've spent too long trying to figure all this out with theory.”
When Star Trek coined the phrase, “Space: the final frontier” it signalled man kinds pioneering sense of discovery, to explore new worlds, to boldly go where no man had gone before. In ‘Interstellar’ space is a necessary frontier, these new worlds are the beacons of hope for the human race, whose time on Earth is coming to an end because of famine and drought and serious climate change. This frontier has been explored before but now a new wormhole has mysteriously appeared allowing a special team set up by NASA to explore these galaxies in order to save the human race. The film is a stunning visceral experience, an incredibly emotional journey and a science boffin’s dream film. It has a clear debt to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and although that seems to have opened it up to a world of criticism, some of which is entirely deserved, I still feel the film shouldn’t be compared outright to Kubrick’s master work. ‘Interstellar’ is Nolan at his boldest, most adventurous and ambitious, it is a flawed master work of populist cinema with big ideas and big emotions and I absolutely loved it overall.
I have to be clear though, firstly I am a Nolanite. Not a pissy teenager willing to decry anyone who dislikes the director’s work but someone who just loves the hugeness of the projects he undertakes. ‘Interstellar’ is his most flawed work partly because the film is primarily about the human race and its survival. Nolan has long been criticised for lacking that human touch that is necessary for a film like this to work and the opening section does play to that criticism to a degree. One of the issues is that Nolan’s ear for genuinely heartfelt dialogue is akin to a robot being able to express human emotion. Now again I felt there was emotion in Cobb’s story in ‘Inception’ despite the coldness in which it was delivered but here Nolan turns on the sentimental switch, clearly an ode to Spielberg. Another issue is Matthew McConaughey as Cooper, who in this opening section just mumbles in a southern drawl that is so monotonous it makes it hard to believe he is even human. Some of the dialogue he exchanges with his daughter Murphy (Mackenzie Foy) were eye rollingly bad at times, but I knew that from the trailer, “I will love you forever” for instance may have some relevance but it’s sickening to hear. The first act is also rushed; ironically this necessity to travel through a wormhole has seen Nolan rush to get there. All the plot points seem to be rushed over in order to get into space, it is especially daft to find Coop and Murph discover NASA so easily and the way in which Coops role in their operation just seems to happen with no reason.
But here’s the thing, once the jarringly quick jump into space begins, the films immersive experience takes hold and all that negative energy I felt in the first 30 minutes was slowly irradiated from my mind. Not only was I completely swept away by the films visuals I was also emotionally invested in the film too! McConaughey’s performance also seems to jump up a notch too, his drawl is easier to understand and we are spared some cloying interactions with his daughter. I have been thinking for the last two hours about whether I think the emotive quality of the film was earned because of how I felt about the opening act or whether it was Hans Zimmer’s astonishing emotive score – which may be one of my favourite scores of all time. I have concluded that the film really just swept me away so much, it was so big, so eye opening and awe inspiring to behold in its more intense moments that the film had just won me over, or beat me over the head until I gave him. There were scenes where I literally had to hold back the tears though and so it is my believe that regardless of how genuinely the film brought me to that point, I still felt it, I was still emotionally involved in it. What moments inspired this I shall say nothing of because I don’t want to spoil anything.
There is so many things I do not want to spoil, the big name actor who admittedly was announced to appear in the film ages ago but just in case I won’t say who it is, but when he appears it changes the film in a big way, a slightly absurd way but entirely thrilling. The moments where we are involved in wormholes and black holes were astonishing to behold in IMAX and had me strapped into my seat much in the way Gravity had me strapped in as if sheer g-force was holding me down. These are the kinds of things that I simply cannot get enough of, things that I cannot ignore in summing up my overall opinion of the film. The film may have issues with dialogue and scripting issues but this kind of mind blowing experience that Nolan offers just far out ways the negatives. Of course I can fully understand the negative reaction to this film more than any other Nolan film but again I find myself championing Nolan’s sense of hugeness! Just to mention a few more of the amazing highlights, the massive tidal wave, the ice planet, complete with ice clouds, the TARS robot – the sarcastic robot – the unnamed big name actor trying to dock on to the Endurance and the explosion which made everyone jump out of their seats. Also I need to mention the sheer power in the sound of this film, it is LOUD. The most amazing sound has to be from the rockets, actually the whole IMAX shook such was the power of it, truly astonishing force.
I am not going to get into the science of ‘Interstellar’ suffice to say that I bought it enough to be invested in the film. When you’re talking about wormholes and black holes how can anyone be sure what is truly possible? I don’t think about plausibility so much in these matters, maybe only in the silliness of some of the ice planet scenes – although I enjoyed the silliness of those moments very much. It was a nice tribute to Kip Thorne to have his name included into the film as a broken robot as well.
The thing I think I take from this film the most is the score from Hans Zimmer though. I can understand any criticism someone may have for it, maybe it is overly used but it was so overwhelming and so beautiful that I could have had every moment in the film scored and scored again, in fact all I want right now is to get hold of the soundtrack and play it as loudly as possible. As I said this is instantly one of the greatest film scores I have ever heard and to be fair to Zimmer he has created something that differs from his previous work with Nolan.
There are so many things that could be said for ‘Interstellar’, it is definitely flawed but as an experience it is overwhelmingly powerful and emotive. I actually entirely forgave the sentimentalism of it all, I didn’t mind so much of the exposition although a fair chunk of it could have been reduced – Inceptions exposition was better incorporated into that film than it is for Interstellar – I could also talk about the way in which the film is about time, like many of Nolan’s films or the importance of gravity in the film – that would be too much into spoiler territory – I could mention Jessica Chastain and Mackenzie Foy’s fine performances, the lack of Casey Affleck or the over usage of the Dylan Thomas poem, “Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night” but I am not going to talk any further on this occasion. All I will say is that ‘Interstellar’ is a film on such a massive scale, so overwhelmingly huge, it just demands to be seen on the largest scale possible. Nolan has done it again, he has won me over but he has done it by showing his weakness more openly this time. His strengths maybe stronger than ever too though!