Interstellar ★★½

Nolan's deficiencies as a filmmaker have never been more fully exposed as they are here. His worst film, his first genuine dud, and while it is currently regarded as a divisive film, I suspect that attitudes towards this film will only degenerate in years to come. When aiming for the stars, don't ever forget the basics, and ultimately Nolan will have to live with that.

The screenplay is frankly terrible, it's an absolute train wreck. Nolan’s obnoxious simultaneous handling of multiple physical and time settings, and attempts at profound sentimentality, completely implodes all the goodwill of the film (excepting the family departure/launch sequence, which is genuinely well handled). I cringed several times and even contemplated walking out at one point. The amount of unnecessary expository dialogue, which wasn't a significant problem for me in his previous efforts, absolutely killed the narrative flow. The dual concerns of mission and relativity drama are also imbalanced, often forced to eat each other alive, negating all care factor. The space narrative is drained of all its flow, rendering the planets devoid of interest. Due to all this irritation, moments like the biased interests of Cooper and Brand, the repeated quotes of Dr Brand, and the deception of Mann, will be the tipping point for certain viewers. His emerging trademark of ratcheting up climactic moments with incessant narrative jumps has also never felt more inappropriate. In force feeding his narrative into unnecessary levels of obesity, audience interest falls flat. Ultimately, only 1-2 characters really resonate at all with the audience, whilst the rest remain half-baked. Some solid acting from the core players can only paint over so many cracks.

Nolan has always gravitated towards film worlds that are a little off kilter and are pieced together like a puzzle, as well as delving into the greyed areas of interesting moral questions. Interstellar is not without merit, and has a lot of neat ideas. The opening first act before heading into space was mostly solid, creating an interesting near-future world which is thankfully not overwritten. The rewriting of the history of the Apollo missions was a nice touch that sums up the nature of this particular setting, as is the ever growing oblivion posed figuratively by dust. The entrance of Casey Affleck is a powerful moment of cinema. The Glass-esque Zimmer score is well-pitched. And it is certainly a thrill to see physics come to life on the big screen in such a manner. There are also many brief moments here that will remind you of countless other forms of sci-fi. Interstellar is not a complete disaster, there is enough merit here to praise certain aspects of its film making.

However, those sections of the audience who appreciate the art of storytelling will be intensely aggravated by this film. There is a fundamental disregard for tasteful aspects of film craft here that really rubbed me the wrong way. The handling of the narrative is so significantly flawed as to completely undo all other attempts at something special. In trying to pull off hard sci-fi at the same time as Spielbergian blockbuster, he fails miserably. Far from stellar.

Interstellar does provide an element of genre clarity. It is problematic enough to scare you away from ever wanting to see another film about saving Earth/the human race ever again. There are not many film classics that explicitly concern themselves with that narrative device crutch, it is a cursed plateau. Something like Gravity was wise enough to steer clear of it.

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