Interstellar ★★★★

I might write something more cohesive about this film when I see it again next week. For now, you can have my ramblings :) (in a good way)

There's an all-timer hiding in here, somewhere. Nolan's ambition is tremendous, and to say Interstellar takes copious amounts of risk is an understatement. While it definitely doesn't all pan out in the end, Nolan has left us with a dizzying sci-fi spectacle that's equally entertaining and engaging - intellectually and superficially. I'm sure some will debate me on the "intellectually" point, but I really think there's a lot to this film beyond the occasionally tedious scientific exposition.

Personally, I've always found the theory of relativity in relation to cross-galaxy travel (in addition to just the concept in general - I have an unabashed love for good science fiction)to be extremely interesting, and one of Interstellar main focal points rests on this theory. Because of my personal interest and enjoyment of the genre and of the far-fetched scientific ideas presented, I believe I was able to overlook some of the film's major flaws, which lie in its exposition. Now, I'm fine with exposition in the more complicated scenes (as in the wormhole theory, black holes, etc.) not just because I would like to know how the world of the film explains it, it makes sense for the characters to feel the same desire. Where I did take some issue was with the little side remarks. "It's an Indian surveillance drone. It's power cells could power an entire farm," Cooper exclaims while in pursuit of an aircraft in his old farm truck. Moments like these - the little moments, explaining things that are either common sense or items that could have been more effectively conveyed through pure imagery - are where I was truly bothered.

And Anne Hathaway's love speech had me rolling my eyes. Woof.

Hathaway isn't really bad, it's just that dialogue. Some of it can get pretty rough at times, even when it's not purely expository. Like the rest of Nolan's work, Interstellar is anything but an actor's film. It's spectacle entertainment that relies on plot rather than character (which isn't necessarily a bad thing), and allows little room for the actors to truly use their skills to the best of their ability. McConaughey is as reliable as ever: he's not terrific, and he uses his typical McConaughey-isms, but he's very solid. Hathaway wavers a bit more than most, but she's fine. The supporting characters are fine. Everyone is just fine.

The visuals bear mentioning because they're terrific. It has the same kind of stark, cold Pfister feel, but I thought Van Hoytema did a good job photographing everything. It's a very pretty film, with the scenes of outer space truly pulling out all the stops and pushing that "wow-factor." In addition to the cinematography, the editing is really good in the scenes towards the end (I feel the last 3/4 of the film is really the best part). If I have to give Nolan credit for one thing, it's that he really pulls off a suspenseful climax. While the editing was rushed in the beginning, the film makes up for it with some fantastically tense set-pieces at the tail-end.

I really dug Hans Zimmer's score, even it does that usual Zimmer thing of being extremely loud and over-the-top - but I think it worked for the most. However, there were quite a few scenes where the audio mix was extremely off-putting, with the music drastically downing out the voices of the actors. Now, I'm not sure if this was a problem with the theater I saw it in, or of the film itself, but it was definitely distracting.

Anyway, other than that, there are some very minor issues - the typical, Nolan-esque robotic supporting characters return (although, ironically, the literal robot was my favorite of Cooper's space crew) and add little to the story other than to purely advance the plot and provide information. Thankfully, there is a solid, human emotional core to connect with in the main characters: Cooper and Murph (and, to a lesser extent, Amelia and her father). I can't speak for everyone, obviously, but I was able to connect with those two principle characters enough to where the film truly affected me in the end.

However, I think the film could have been even longer. I've seen quite a few other criticizing the length of the film, and those criticisms definitely have merit. But when it comes down to my personal experience, I wasn't bored for a minute. Unfortunately, the beginning act felt extremely rushed - only giving just enough time to invest emotionally before lifting off into space. If the film was longer in that regard, I believe it could have been even greater than it ended up becoming. Extend the characters, cut down the exposition and I believe this could be truly brilliant.

But, we have to work with what we get. And what we get is spectacle science fiction with not much below the surface other than what it tells you, that also just so happens to have superb technical aspects and supreme entertainment value. And I'm fine with that.
I've always dreamed of making a movie or some work concerning wormholes and interstellar travel - so it's a little disappointing that Interstellar is so flawed, but I also can't help but love it at the same time.

So there you have it. My personal afflictions save Nolan from mediocrity. How noble of me :P

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