Thursday, April 23, 2015

In a galaxy far, far away...


According to Christopher Nolan, I’m supposed to watch this movie more than once to fully understand it.  No thanks.  I have way too much on my plate to devote another three hours to trying to decipher each ridiculous frame of Nolan’s recent trip down pretentiousness.  I say all of this as a fan of his work.  I was a big supporter of ‘The Dark Knight’, and I mourned his Oscar snub since his direction of that film (really, the whole Batman trilogy) was brilliant and he personally recreated what the Superhero genre could look like.  I also adore ‘Inception’ and find all the flack it gets for being overwrought to be preposterous since it’s highly understandable, beautifully woven and articulated and thoroughly thought out.  I’m a fan of his, a real fan (not a rabid fanboy) and so I say all of this with love:

“Chris, EDIT YOUR NEXT MOVIE!”

And by edit, I don’t mean in the way the film is spliced; I mean edit your ideas because you have too many of them and they are tearing apart the seams of your film.


Are you following this, because I'm not...
‘Interstellar’ was always that film that was kind of set up to fail.  The synopsis for the film was kept strictly under wraps, with only a singular plot point known; black holes.  It was based off of research done by Dr. Kip Thorne and was approached from a ‘let’s make this logical’ standpoint, which was enforced by Thorne himself, who stated that nothing in the script could violate physical laws, and that any speculations made within the screenplay needed to be steeped in actual science and not imagination.  This is a really heavy load to carry, especially for someone like Nolan.

Part of me feels like this weight was so heavy the entire ending was basically stripped of any real explanation as an attempt to say that it was not deviating from preexisting laws, since it’s just there and not really developed.

Here is my issue with ‘Interstellar’; I never got a handle on what was happening.  Now I’m sure that Nolan’s legions of defenders are going to say that this is because I’m stupid and that Nolan’s genius is above my intellect, but I don’t care.  This was messy with so many plot-point ideas tossed into the air and none of them truly expounded on.  There were longwinded monologues placed into the fabric of the film that felt out of place and unnecessary, despite how moving they were supposed to be (like, the whole love speech Hathaway gives is beautifully delivered and yet makes no lasting impact because it doesn’t matter in the long run).  The play on space/time travel is interesting and yet void of real subtext, wordy and yet incomplete feeling with time wasted on a barrage of moments that feel pointless and absurd.  I found it extremely difficult, impossible even, to engage with this storyline, and the lack of character development for anyone outside of Cooper made the film feel grossly underdeveloped.

If only I understood why all of this was happening to me...
And then there was that ending, that weird, strange, dumb ending with no explanations, open-ended theories and a chunkily dropped ball of a finale.

When those books were falling off the shelf and Cooper was trying to explain to TARS what was happening I was sitting there with my brain pressed firmly against my skull as it was trying to leave my body and beat my television screen.

But it’s a pretty film; gorgeously lensed and framed and yet nothing wholly revolutionary, with the effects in ‘Gravity’ being more seamless and impactful in my eyes, and the score, while effective in parts, never stirred me the way I expected.  Certain moments here were exciting and executed wonderfully, but Nolan is known for the way he constructs his film, and this is no exception.  I don’t take offence with any of that.  Nolan’s direction is really good, and the film moves with grace from scene to scene; it just makes no sense and is trying so hard to tell you that it does make sense that it becomes exhausting and aggravating.

I think I dropped the last few pages of my script in there...
I actually really liked the Matt Damon sub-plot, which I found to add a sense of fear and tension that the rest of the film was really missing, but everything that happened after that was a complete and utter mess.

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I'd give this a C, I think, maybe less.  There are aspects of this that were great, but the conception was far better than the construction, script-wise, and that makes for a head-spinning bore of a finished product that I have no desire to revisit.

22 comments:

  1. I actually found this film too obvious in nearly every respect. The second young Murph (aside: WHO THE HELL NAMES THEIR DAUGHTER MURPHY?!?!?) talked about her ghost or whatever that kept doing things in her room, I knew it was going to be Dad, communicating from beyond space and time or something silly like that. I knew that all the planets they visited would be awful in one way or another. I knew the second we saw Matt Damon that he would try to pull something. I also found the constant juggling of aspect ratios (I saw it in IMAX) to be incredibly distracting, although I didn't hate the sound mix the way some people seemed to. But yeah, very underwhelming despite some incredibly exciting moments and gorgeous cinematography. I like Nolan, but I'm not a fanboy, and haven't unreservedly liked a film of his since The Prestige (I really liked Inception, but found it to be too grounded and too expository - I have no idea why some people thought it was so difficult to understand. Literally half the movie is explaining what's going on). This didn't reverse that trend.

    Oh yeah, and I thought the score was pretty great.

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    1. LOL, I kind of love how we dislike this film for completely opposite reactions to the storytelling. I can see where you're coming from with the obviousness, and I agree that the whole 'ghost' thing was VERY obvious, but the way they explained it made absolutely NO SENSE whatsoever.

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  2. While I did like the film, it was flawed and certainly one of Nolan's weakest films. I really think he needs to scale things down a bit and go for something more cohesive. I enjoyed it but it was quite messy.

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  3. It's funny...I have not seen this film yet but everything I have seen in clips pretty much sums up what I feared and you mentioned. Now that doesn't mean I will not see the film but it looked self-important and I had a feeling it would be one of those open-ended typical 70's style films which always just irked me. One day I shall rent it and give it a chance

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    1. Yeah, the open ended ending isn't really open ended as much as it's just poorly constructed and explained...in a way that feels empty and underdeveloped...or not developed at all.

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  4. I liked this more than you did, but the third part completely had me at a loss. How it wraps things up (with the bookcases, etc) doesn't really make sense with the rest of the movie.

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    1. THANK YOU! I mean, I was kind of lost throughout most of it and found the way that Nolan splintered into every facet of the film to feel underdeveloped entirely (like, each plot point needed more info added), but the third act was so bad...so messy...so pointless.

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  5. Funnily enough, we've just finished our own review of this! I think we enjoyed it a little more than you, but I'm with you on being completely confused. I put it down to not being smart enough, but maybe I was wrong!
    - Allie

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    1. No, you're smart enough to understand a story that makes sense. Nolan wasn't smart enough to realize that the people would understand that his film isn't understandable.

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  6. This film is such a damn mess. What's worse is that the parts of it - McConaughey's performance, the scene with the waves, the docking scene - are brilliant. But those moments make everything else in the movie even more boring, kinda like when you compare everything else in TDK to Ledger's performance it's all kinda lame. I liked the ending, the way it was executed, but it made no fucking sense. In the original script there was a relationship between Cooper and Amelia so at least there was that, but in the movie version it makes no sense.

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    1. That docking scene was great. McConaughey is fine, exceptional in parts, but overall nothing overly special thanks in large part to having so many scenes of nothing much to do.

      I thought the whole of The Dark Knight was LEAGUES better than this mess.

      That conclusion of Cooper reuniting with Amelia felt so...tacked on and stupid.

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  7. I liked the film, but I wanted to like it so much more. It was disappointing in that sense.

    I don't think I'll be watching it again any time soon. (But I did love that mash up of McConaughey from this movie watching the new Star Wars trailer)

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    1. My favorite thing that came from Interstellar was that mash-up video :-P

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  8. It's funny. I have some of the same issues you do, namely the too many ideas going on at once thing. But I was willing to forgive all of that for one reason: I was never for one moment bored. In fact, I was thrilled and enthralled. I got chills at times. (Something Gravity never did for me, I should day). There's something to admire about a film with lofty goals, even if all the big ideas don't land. And while I don't necessarily think you HAVE TO see this movie twice, I recently bought the Blu-Ray (mostly for the cool 70mm film cell) and, on a second viewing, things were much clearer for me and I really was able to appreciate it much more.

    Did this movie meet my expectations? No. Did I enjoy every minute I spent in front of that huge ass IMAX screen? You bet your ass. I think maybe an experience of this film in a theater might have worked better for you, but maybe not.

    I don't really believe movies like this need (or even desire) to be understood, despite what the director says or doesn't say. I mean, I've seen 2001: A Space Odyssey half a dozen times. I still don't get it. But I keep going back anyway. Not because I need to understand it. But because I love what it tries (and mostly succeeds) at doing. Interstellar is no 2001, but at least it tries to be something grand.

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    1. I can totally get what you're saying. I do hate that I didn't see this in the theater, which is kind of what I say to most people who saw Gravity at home and didn't like it. Some movies NEED to be seen on the big screen.

      For the record, 2001 is a film that I admire but don't love.

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  9. Oh boy. I have quite the conflicting opinion on this. Interstellar not only represents the peak of Nolan but is one of my top 5 favorite films of the decade so far. It's become such a divisive movie among critics. This review only reinforces that. I am happy you did not go the route so many of its detractors go: the "that science is just not believable" route. The baffling thing is, so many people loved Inception. I'm the opposite. Inception was the movie that needed editing and more work. Ellen Page's character could have easily been taken out and it would have actually added more mystery.

    Interstellar really spoke to me on an emotional level and leaves me in a puddle of tears every time.

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    1. Yeah, for me it was less that the science didn't make sense but that Nolan, our storyteller, didn't understand the science he was promoting and so the film didn't explain it or make it believable. It was Nolan's job to sell us on his ideas, and I think he failed.

      But that's just my take on it :-D

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  10. It's far from a masterpiece, but it was a beautiful experience for me in the theater. Saw it twice, and loved it both times. While it's underdeveloped, the film never lost me. Nolan went for a little too much, but it's still one of my favorite films from last year.

    What'd you think of McConaughey's performance? I thought he was far better here than in Dallas Buyers Club.

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    1. Well, as you know, I'm not a fan of what he does in DBC...so I thought this was much better. I don't think he had as much to work with as he could have, but his scene when he watches the videos is pretty perfect.

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  11. I'm with you that the movie looks good. For me, Zimmer’s score and the visuals/sets are probably the best thing about Interstellar. I was never bored, and the pacing was good for an almost 3h movie, but the story wasn't as good as I had hoped.

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    1. I won't say I was bored...but I was detached...I wasn't invested, and I really wanted to be, but a large part of me just didn't care at all.

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