POLL & REVIEW: INTERSTELLAR Does Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Hit the jump to read my spoiler-laden review of Christopher Nolan's latest film Interstellar. Also, take part in the poll and voice your own opinion. Warning: If you haven't seen the film yet, do not proceed any further.


SPOILERS BELOW! SPOILERS BELOW! SPOILERS BELOW!

Here's my review of Interstellar. It is ambitiously entertaining, yet flawed. Overall, I enjoyed the film. It is incredibly dense and will take multiple viewings to fully digest. That's why I am reluctant to assess a score to it or even say where I would rank it among Nolan's other films.

I think the story itself evokes interest. In the not-so-distant future, the human race is on the brink of extinction because a blight has ravaged every crop on Earth, except for corn (so far). That has caused a scarcity of food which has led to global unrest - billions have died. We quickly learn that this hopeless society values farming over technology. They don't even trust that NASA sent a man to the moon. I really wish Nolan had focused on this distrust of technology. It's presented, but never fully realized. I think if they had explained that the blight was somehow connected to genetically-modified crops it would've been more compelling. It's certainly a relevant issue as there have been several mysterious cases of genetically-modified wheat appearing where it shouldn't be. Now there is a fear that it will get into the food supply. Anyways, that's an angle I would've explored and I assume Nolan was hinting at. Though, I could be wrong. If GM crops were the cause of the blight it would help to explain why NASA, a symbol of our best technological achievements is forced to fund ambitious rescue missions in secret.

Best thing about Interstellar? It's emotionally powerful! That's something you normally wouldn't expect from a Christopher Nolan film. It brought me to tears on four separate occasions. Nolan knew exactly when and how to pull on the heartstrings when it came to the father-daughter interactions between Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and Murph (Mackenzie Foy and Jessica Chastain), as well as Dr. Brand (Michael Caine) and Dr. Brand (Anne Hathaway). For me, the heart of the film can be found in Cooper's comments to Amelia Brand, "When you become a parent, one thing becomes really clear. And that's that you want to make sure your children feel safe." That's why Michael Caine's character fibbed to his daughter, and the rest of mankind, about Plan A. He wanted her to feel safe. 

What I didn't like? The foreshadowing in this film isn't subtle. This is the second film in a row from Nolan in which the director has poorly foreshadowed major events to come. With The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan made a few missteps when it came to foreshadowing Bruce Wayne's fate. One example, Alfred's flashback to a Florence café where he fantasized about seeing Bruce happily married, and another would be the numerous references to a malfunctioning auto-pilot. A more subtle approach to those scenes would've made for a better payoff. Same issue arose in Interstellar.
Cooper's daughter Murph, believes a ghost is trying to communicate with her via a bookshelf in her bedroom. At first, I thought this was being introduced as a teachable moment, a way to show Murph that science can disprove the supernatural. We later learn that isn't the case as Cooper spends all night on the floor of her bedroom examining the evidence. It was abundantly clear at that moment this "ghost" would play a major role in the story later on. Knowing that, I immediately began constructing possible outcomes to explain the "ghost" and by the time we got to the third act I was disappointed at how accurate my imagination was to the film's big reveal.

Logically, it didn't make any sense. Near the end of the film Cooper falls into a black hole. Somehow he is unharmed (no spaghettification) and ends up in a tesseract where time (the past) can be manipulated. Cooper then has a sudden realization that humans from the future sent the wormhole to save humanity. What?! Like I said, that doesn't make any sense. Apparently, humans from the future know that Cooper's daughter is vital and will solve Dr. Brand's unsolvable gravity equation. So, the humans in the future allow Cooper to communicate with Murph through the bookcase. He's the ghost. Boo! Okay, here's why it doesn't work. It's a paradox. Future humans shouldn't exist. And even if these future humans survived, why would they need to alter the past? They survived, so they're fine. They didn't need Murph to solve the problem in the first place to exist. Isn't it possible that future humans are altering their future in a potentially harmful way by having Murph solve the equation, when logically she couldn't have done it without them? The only way the ending of Interstellar works is to believe Cooper's assumption about future humans helping us is flat out wrong. Nolan should have never offered a possible explanation. If he had just kept the 'They' as mysterious benevolent creatures there wouldn't be a paradox.

Here are a few more things that I liked and didn't like about Interstellar. I enjoyed the use of time dilation based on the enormous black hole. I liked going planet to planet, seeing new worlds. Though, it would've been nice to see some time between each journey instead of making it seem like each planet was just a hop, scotch away. The visuals are spectacular. Though, there are some irritating close-up shots from the wing of the spacecraft that are incessantly used throughout. Sometimes the dialogue was clunky as it went for the profound. This was most noticeable during Cooper's encounter with Dr. Mann (special cameo). At the end of the day, the film asks some very important questions that should lead to some interesting debates.

Like any science-fiction film your enjoyment hinges how much bad science and bad logic you can tolerate for entertainment. Interstellar does not go gentle into that good night.
Official Synopsis - The adventures of a group of explorers who make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.
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INTERSTELLAR - Directed and co-written by Christopher Nolan (“Inception,” “The Dark Knight” Trilogy), a script based on the combination of an original idea by Nolan and an existing script by Jonathan Nolan. The cast includes: Matthew McConaughey (“Magic Mike”), Anne Hathaway (“Les Miserables”), Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty”), Bill Irwin (“Rachel Getting Married”), John Lithgow (“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”), Casey Affleck (“Gone Baby Gone”), David Gyasi (“Cloud Atlas”), Wes Bentley (“The Hunger Games”), Mackenzie Foy (“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Parts 1 and 2”) Timothée Chalamet (TV’s “Homeland”), Topher Grace (“Spider-Man 3”), David Oyelowo (“Jack Reacher”), Ellen Burstyn (“The Exorcist”), and Michael Caine (“The Cider House Rules”.The film will be released in IMAX® and 35mm theaters on November 7, 2014.
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