A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
Remember, remember! The sixth of November,
The adventure, grandeur and might.
Nolan has shown, the puzzling unknown,
In the place where there is no light.
A film is released, a tremendous relief,
For the masses who eagerly wait.
Compared to the rest, it’s not quite his best;
But “Interstellar” is truly great!
In recent memory, the release of a film from any director has not been accompanied by such a universal level of fist-clenching anticipation like the works of Christopher Nolan. He is a brave director, an ambitious, intelligent man who stops at nothing to send his audiences on an incredibly visual, mind-bending ride.
His latest instalment “Interstellar”, many major critics’ ‘most anticipated film of 2014’ has finally arrived, and of course, it has been accompanied with immense hype and excitement. Having just witnessed the latest Nolan spectacle first hand, it must be said that he has once again failed to disappoint.
Venturing into the outer realms of our solar system, into unknown galaxies, worlds and atmospheres is always fun when it comes to different artistic interpretations, but with “Interstellar”, there was an eerily realistic feeling about it all that made the viewing experience just that, “an experience”!
Mankind is facing an imminent demise. It’s the not too distant future and all the world’s food supplies have gone, apart from a definite supply of corn. With the future of the human race becoming increasingly unfeasible, Cooper, a former NASA test pilot played by the one and only Matthew McConaughey, is sent on an extensive expedition into the vast unknown, with the hope of finding a new habitable world for the human race to start over once again.
Cooper is unsure of when he will return, or if we will at all, but it’s a mission he has been chosen to embark on, and thus, he must face the hardest struggle of all, leaving his family behind.
Aboard the numerous spacecrafts with fellow companions Amelia (Anne Hathaway), Doyle (Wes Bentley) and Roomily (David Gyasi), Cooper and the crew attempt interstellar travel and voyage into unfathomable locations, and the journey is nothing like we have ever witnessed before.
Now come the cold hard facts.
Is “Interstellar” a perfect film? Absolutely not.
Is it Nolan’s best work? No.
Is it an incredible visual adventure? Yes, without question.
Was it overhyped? Yes, but what did you expect? It’s Christopher Nolan!
Is it entertaining? The simple answer is, yes, like you’d never believe.
That is, at certain points, not in it’s entirety though. As previously mentioned, “Interstellar” is not a perfect film, in fact, it is riddled with plot holes and confusing elements throughout the 169-minute runtime.
It seems that the visuals act as a way of dampening these rather important floors with the film as far as story and development goes.
For example, we are lead to believe the entire world and all it’s inhabitants are suffering an impending extinction, yet whilst on earth, we never leave a midwest American neighbourhood. The first act of the film spends a lot of time (granted, quite necessarily) developing McConaughey’s family and backstory, all the while establishing the forthcoming mission, but we are forced to assume that what is occurring in McConaughey’s backyard cornfield is happening worldwide.
It would have been nice to have the global issue put into perspective, rather than have the struggle, and overall story localised so heavily.
Rather than barrage “Interstellar” with criticism which it does not deserve at all, there are plenty of positives to focus on and mention, especially regarding the themes at hand.
To tackle space, time, inter-dimensional travel, inter-galactic adventure, maths, science, formulas and theories, all the while linking it back to themes that are ultimately more important such as human instinct, love, devotion, sacrifice, compassion, curiosity and survival is something of an unfathomable feet in filmmaking; but not impossible.
What Christopher Nolan has been able to achieve with “Interstellar” is nothing short of extraordinary.
The visuals are absolutely incredible, but personally, the icing on the cake for me was the score from Hans Zimmer. The immensely diverse visuals (which I shall mention later) are accompanied by what may be the best score of the year.
The sci-fi themed music is excellent, but it’s the accompanying organ that provides the most effect. There are plenty of silent moments whilst in space, but it’s through the score that we are able to witness the terror, the menace and simply harrowing capabilities of the organ – it is perfect.
The visuals are amazing. Watching featurettes on “Interstellar”, in which cast and crew were interviewed, it was mentioned that Nolan wanted to create the most realistic depiction of a black hole he possibly could. The end result is jaw-dropping to say the least.
In order to create what is now being hailed as the “most factually accurate representation of a black hole in cinematic history”, Nolan sought assistance from astrophysicists and scientists alike to create the image, 800,000 Gigabytes in size…Astonishing.
Another notable quality about the visuals was the complete lack of green screen during creation.
No, they didn’t actually film in space, but the imagery wasn’t simply enhanced in post production upon a green screen, but generated in a different way, which is more tiresome, but the end result speaks for itself.
Creating planetary environments in everyday locations had such an effect on the screen, because the actors were genuinely ‘there’. Commitment goes a long way in filmmaking, and “Interstellar” proves it.
Lastly, the recurring angle within the film is that of ‘the mounted shot’. Nolan has been quoted as saying he “wanted to use the IMAX camera as a GoPro”, so to speak. There are numerous shots from the outside of the spacecraft, and they add so much artistry, effect and visual potency to the adventure, which works so incredibly well.
There have been reviewers who have dismissed the link between “Interstellar” and “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Those who do not see the clear connections are lying!
Not only are there moments that appear to be taken straight out of “2001”, Nolan has labelled the film, along with “Metropolis” and “Blade Runner” as major inspirational sources for the film.
Towards the climax of the film, things take a turn for the stranger and more absurd (a bit like “2001”). The way it is handled is somewhat farfetched, but there are so many clever and creative elements thrown in there, it’s obvious it has been thought over for endless amounts of time.
Although there are major examples of error in narrative structure, it is a credit to Christopher and Jonathan Nolan for writing such an elaborate story.
Performances all round are great, but of course, it’s all about McConaughey. “The McConaissance” continues with “Interstellar”, and OSCAR buzz has already emerged. I don’t think he will win again this year, but you never know; he’ll definitely be a contender, he is truly excellent as Cooper. The emotion and roundedness of his acting is show-stealing and yet another addition in to the list of masterful McConaughey performances.
As far as supporting roles go, many of the big names aren’t given enough screen time to really develop into anyone you really ‘care’ for. The ones who do have a larger portion, like Anne Hathaway for example, don’t generate the same amount of connection and sympathy as Cooper does.
It says a lot when the best supporting role is a talking robot…
TARS, voiced by Bill Irwin is a fantastic technological sidekick who provides the majority of the film’s humour, which is refreshing in amongst the constant tension and brief moments of sheer, pure darkness.
Credit must be given where credit is due however. John Lithgow, Casey Affleck, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Topher Grace and Mackenzie Foy all give wonderful performances, it’s just it felt like they needed to be present for much longer given the drawn out first act and overall lengthy runtime.
Nolan’s films are incredible as a whole. He is a modern visionary with a classical mindset for me. He knows how to generate a nostalgic sense of tension, emotion and overall entertainment. The nostalgic inclusion of IMAX 70mm film used for “Interstellar” as opposed to digital is just another example.
Whether it be from his intelligent scripts, his original ideas or the overall ambition, Nolan knows how to make a solid, powerful and gargantuan film.
My favourite of his is “Memento”, one of his earlier works. I feel a sense of his roots in each one of his recent films, and with “Interstellar”, there aren’t many clear-cut references to his past works; all I can say is that there are brief moneys that reminded me of “Inception”, even to a point where there similar looking landscapes; but ultimately, “Interstellar” is in a league of it’s own when it comes to scale.
It may not be Nolan’s ‘finest’ picture, but for an engulfing, visually arresting and bold take on space adventure, it stands superior to all his past works.
To conclude, the latest, highly anticipated picture from Christopher Nolan has not disappointed. It is truly enthralling, mesmerising and captivating from the word go. He takes interplanetary exploration out of the Discovery Channel and onto the silver screen like none have done before. It is an incredible adventure that combines so much, (some would argue slightly too much); but nevertheless, “Interstellar” is a must-see!