Thursday, November 6, 2014

Interstellar review; are we smart enough for a film like this?

Christopher Nolan is my favorite director working today.  He's imaginative and takes incredible risks, in an industry that has forgotten what that means.  His movies always tend to push the envelope and tell sophisticated stories involving fascinating characters.  Stories that make us think.  Interstellar is no different, but pushes the envelope far beyond the comfort level of this blogger.  Let's dive right in!

What I liked about the film:
The Acting
Matthew McConaughey is good in the film.  He does well with the scripted material.  For the most part, he charms the audience into caring about the outcome of his story arc.  He gets us invested.  I think there are problems with the script that stops me from calling his performance anything more than 'good'.  But overall, McConaughey has proven time and time again, he has the ability to pull us into a film, and keep us gazing for hours at a time.  

Believe it or not, I enjoyed someone whose acting I normally despise, and that is Anne Hathaway.  Hathaway is terrific in the film.  Her character could have been written off as a 'filler' character, and that's simply not the case here.  Hathaway packs a serious punch in this, her second film with Director, Christopher Nolan.  She gives an honest and sincere performance that I really really loved.

The rest of the support cast is made up of actors who really don't do much.  Big names like Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck and Michael Caine, are barely on screen, in the overly long 170 minute film.  I only wish they had more to do in the film.

The Spectacle
I said it earlier; Nolan is a genius with the ability to tell a human story, on the largest of scales... like, the galaxy!  I won't spoil anything, but the characters spend a lot of time in space; and it looks glorious!  The way Nolan and company depict space and everything that comes along with it, is hypnotic.  I loved the space sequences.

What I didn't like about the film:
The Script
Christopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan wrote the script, and in my humble opinion, it's not very good.  Allow me to explain my reasoning.  The entire plot is built on the science of time and space.  I consider myself a relatively intelligent person, with a mild understanding of the theories involving time and space.... and I had no freakin' idea what the hell the characters were talking about during this 3 HOUR ride.  Obviously I'm speaking about the terminology used, but there are other problems with the script as well.

The Nolan brothers almost always struggle with exposition.  Inception featured an Oscar Nominated Ellen Page, and she basically just stood in for the audience, so we could understand the 'rules' of the dream world.  McConaughey's character is tasked with learning the science of the film, on behalf of the audience.  The problem is, there are scenes where McConaughey's intellect is superior to those around him, and the next scene he'll need his cohorts to explain the most basic of theories to him, portraying him as less intelligent character than the rest.  This just did not work.  Towards the climax of the film, I could no longer suspend my disbelief, and was ready to move on with my day.

Another major problem with the script is the relationship it tries to sell on between McConaughey and his daughter 'Murph'; it teetered on the edge of annoying.  It's difficult to explain this without giving anything away, but watch the film and let me know if I'm alone on this.  The relationship felt so forced, and the reactions of one character after the actions of another just didn't equate to me.

The Sound Mixing
At first, I thought it was maybe just my screening.  But now I'm reading tweets and reviews of the film, where it wasn't just me.  The sound mixing in the film is awful.  At multiple points in the film, I literally covered my ears.  I haven't done that shit since I was a kid and was scared of the movie on screen.  Something had to have happened in post-production that fell on deaf ears (pun intended).

The Climax
The climax is so bad.  So so bad.  I rolled my eyes over and over, with every word being said.  The worst part is, as we approached the climax, I said to myself: 'This scene better not be headed where I think it is.  What's happening better not be what I think it is!".  Sure enough, I guessed correctly and wished I could have unseen what I saw.  There are other scenes where you just throw your hands up and go, 'This is beyond believable'.  Just remember the waves and come back and tell me if you agree.

The Verdict:
Maybe I'm too dumb for the movie
Seriously.  Maybe I'm not intelligent enough to understand what's going on, and therefore could not appreciate it.  Maybe Nolan has pushed the envelope so far, that a lot of people are going to be left in the dark?  I don't know.  I have the utmost respect for Nolan and his ability to take incredible risks with his storytelling. Nolan knows how to write characters that keep us invested in a smart and spectacular story.  Inception still holds up after the few years since it's release.  As do Memento and The Prestige.  I just wasn't a fan of this film.  I know Nolan can do better, and will do better.  We'll just have to wait a few more years for that to happen.

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