Interstellar had such heavenly potential and aspirations, but unfortunately, for most of its two hours and 49 minutes, it remains uncomfortably grounded. Director/Co-writer Christopher Nolan aimed for the stars and only hit the roof…which isn’t terrible. Nolan’s mediocre creations are better than many filmmakers’ best efforts.
In essence, Interstellar is the story of Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a widower and skilled pilot who must chose between staying with his family on the farm or leaving and possibly never returning in order to find a hospitable planet for all mankind. Earth seems to be on the verge of drying up and blowing away in this not too distant future, and John Lithgow is the father-in-law who is to mind the homestead with Cooper’s son and daughter while he travels through space. In a conceit that is puzzling to every child who has ever had a parent in the military, Cooper’s precocious daughter is inconsolably angry with him for even considering leaving their corn farm in order to save the human race. But therein lies the flimsy human emotion of the film, and it works to tether the space explorers to earth.
And granted, some earthbound emotion is needed, because once the astronauts blast off, shooting in and out of worm holes and trying to explain outrageously complicated theories of time and gravity becomes rather tedious and cold. Anne Hathaway, Wes Bentley and David Gyasi play fellow astronauts, and with little chemistry, limited backstory, sparse dialogue, plus long stretches of cockpit time, it’s hard to connect with, or even sit still through, portions of the film. Relief is provided by arguably the coolest robots you’ve seen in a movie, and by Matt Damon’s enigmatic character.
Now there are some truly suspenseful and exciting moments, and the cinematography, production design and art direction are quite stunning, although we saw many similarities in last year’s Gravity. But if anyone could have made a space pic to rival 2001, it’s Christopher Nolan. Although he didn’t achieve that, Interstellar is still worth watching.
2 Hours 49 Minutes