Almost every review of interstellar has it right. Basically it never quite achieves its ambition. What it does right, it does very right indeed and what it gets wrong makes it clunk alarmingly. Warning this is going to be a spoiler filled review, if you haven’t seen it do not read any further.
- I think the number one thing on the top of my list of good things are the Robots. I was sceptical about the design at first and frankly I still am but there is no denying they were unique, the way that they were utilised, the way that they interacted and the idea that humour will put humans at ease with working with the robots was great. The only sad thing is that they are very like a robot in a book I was writing.
- The “Beats” were all off. Any cinema goer, whether they aware of it or not is versed in cinema convention, a “Beat” (or sequence) every 12 minutes and Interstellar doesn’t do that. It teases us, some sequences are short, some dialogue scenes feel too long, some drama is stretched out while some is instant which for a “Blockbuster” film is pretty daring, it doesn’t even follow a conventional 3 act form, there are sort of four acts (or more depending on how you count them). The way that it’s put together has more in common with Solaris than Transformers, although this structure could also be a nod to 2001. Which if you recall has four; The Dawn of Man, TMA-1, Jupiter Mission, Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite.
- The enemy wasn’t aliens or galactic warlords but time itself, time and human weakness. I loved that.
- The unannounced Cameo’s, I was surprised and delighted when Topher Grace, Casey Affleck and Matt Damon turned up and I think Matt Damon acted his ass off here. I liked that they weren’t billed and I wasn’t expecting them.
- The explanation for why the wormhole is spherical.
- The first planet they went to where the stupid insignificant humans completely got their asses kicked. Loved that.
- The Visuals. It looked amazing. It really did.
- It was over 2 and a half hours. But it didn’t feel that long. A sure sign of a well-made film.
- The first two hours. I REALLY enjoyed the first two hours. I didn’t find the time dilation stuff confusing but I can see how you could, ok so there wasn’t a proper “relativity primer” in the film that laid it all out for you but if you’re even slightly familiar with special relativity then I think it was easy to follow. To be fair I think it’s been explored better before…but never in an actual movie.
- It might be the only film based on a song that I’ve ever enjoyed.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kE8kGMfXaFU
“’39” was May’s attempt to do “sci-fi skiffle“. “’39” relates the tale of a group of space explorers who embark on what is, from their perspective, a year-long voyage. Upon their return, however, they realise that a hundred years have passed, because of the time dilation effect in Einstein‘s special theory of relativity, and the loved ones they left behind are now all dead.
- The Kubrikisms: The first time we had a musical sting and it faded off leaving the sound of an organ decaying in a cathedral I thought “Oh…well that’s nice, a little nod to 2001” but to end almost every scene with it was….unimaginative at best. Then when Bowman Cooper went into the black hole (that we could see how is it we could see a black hole?…..um…) there was the moment that focuses on his helmet and him drifting in space and all I could think was “Wait. So Mathew McConaughey is a giant space baby now?”
- I love Dylan Thomas, I love that poem but I didn’t need to hear it 3 times…ok 3.5.
- Does love transcend dimensions? I don’t care and I don’t care if that means that I have no majesty in my soul. Even if it does it shouldn’t be the Deus Ex Machina in a film. When Brand first proposes it, this is fine because it’s clear that she is just saying it because she wants to see her boyfriend again. But when it turns out that it’s true….ugh….
- How did she know it was her dad? I mean…we knew because we know about sci-fi tropes and it was fairly obvious from the outset but how did she know? As Neil Degrass Tyson tweeted “If you didn’t understand the physics of Interstellar, try Kip Thorne’s highly readable ‘The Science of Interstellar,’” “If you didn’t understand the plot, there is no published book to help you.”
- How does manipulating gravity change the running of a watch? And why didn’t she just go “Oh crap my Dad’s watch…which must be over 100 years old by now is broken…better take it two a jeweller!”
- The ending felt very Spielbergian which is to say sappy and convenient. Not surprising perhaps as this was initially a Spielberg project.
- The Daughter/Dad stuff didn’t resonate for me as strongly as it could have. But that might just be me.
- I get that any time you want to depict more dimensions than we can actually perceive it’s going to be hard. And it’s always going to fall short of expectation no matter how amazing you are (although I might point you to the work of one MC Esher). But to be honest in a film that was full of grand spectacle I expect you to do better than the back of a bookcase with gauze over it. And if you’re going to show someone manipulating gravity try to do better than a rubber band.
- OK so it was stipulated very clearly that time cannot run backwards. But then it did. Not only that the “Aliens” who were us were so advanced they couldn’t perceive one moment in time so the needed Cooper but that means that we have evolved so far in the future that we can’t relate to what we once were also that the we saved ourselves only so we could go back and save ourselves. Ladies and gentlemen that’s a whopping great paradox.
- The Real hero of Interstellar was Romilly, think about it he spent 23 years in a spaceship with a taciturn robot and didn’t go nuts. Seriously! And his reward? Surprise explosion. We are supposed to feel sorry for Murph but the most she has to contend with was a dead Michael Cain a surprise Topher Grace.
- Some of the names were cyphers: Mann…..Mann vrs Wild? Wild won. Man’s greatest enemy? Mann. I’ll let you see what else you can come up with.
- Did anybody else want McConaughey to paraphrase Dazed and Confused: “That’s what I loves about Black Holes: The women get older, but I stay the same age”?
- How the hell did Murph know about Brand?
- Black holes are black right? Or is my physics outdated?
Oh this was a ride, so much to like so much to be annoyed at. I wonder if there were things that I missed, I love Nolan I’m not a “Nolan can do no wrong” fan boy. The Prestige was such a great Swiss watch of a film and Inception was brilliant but there is a sense that he is growing less ambitious with each passing film. Narrative wise at least.