Thursday, November 20, 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: INTERSTELLAR Is a Masterful Cinematic Experience with a Somewhat Satisfactory Story

Christopher Nolan is often criticized for having a very cold way of executing a story. The praise that a lot of his films engender comes from their more analytic qualities rather than their emotional ones. It's very apparent that how a film is constructed and engineered is what fascinates Nolan, but the heart at the center of his films very rarely beats with an equal level of passion. Interstellar is the most blatant attempt at merging the two together, and while there are a few strides made in the realm of character attachments, it never matches up to the awe-inspiring technical aspects on display.

Before I begin to sound too overly critical, let me take an ample amount of time to worship the film when it comes to its technical prowess. Only the most jaded or cynical of individuals could deny the power behind the visual components of Interstellar. The appearance of realism in regards to the science fiction is jaw-dropping. Nothing ever feels artificial, and it's that believable nature that draws you into the film. You should also believe the hype when it comes to seeing the film on the biggest screen possible. This is the kind of experience that cannot be replicated outside of a truly stupendous cinema. During every big moment in the film, I was completely enveloped in the world of Interstellar. As far as a movie-going experience is concerned, this is one that should not be missed.

Another huge element that I found to be incredibly effective was the sound design and music. There's been plenty of press regarding the sound mix of Interstellar, and though I understand some of the criticisms people might have, I never found it to be a real issue in terms of knowing what was going on in the film. Even more praiseworthy is Hans Zimmer's score, which manages to emphasize the wonder and majesty of what's happening on screen, and even helps to boost up the weaker emotional moments. I've never been a fan of Zimmer's work, so this was not a part of the film I was expecting to enjoy as much as I did.

Now comes the tough part: the story. It's apparent that Christopher Nolan's interests lie with the ideas of exploration and the future of the human race, but he explores these ideas within the confines of a very schmaltzy family story. If it wasn't for Matthew McConaughey being one of our greatest living actors, I would have been completely tuned out of the main emotional component of the film. McConaughey turns on his trademarked charm and relatable nature, and is just so fantastic that I can't help but react to his performance. Even though the script itself wasn't hitting me emotionally, McConaughey made it work like magic.

Still, the story itself suffers from one glaring problem: it's has nothing surprising in it. The big reveal during the climax of the film is obvious from the moment the film begins. It robs the ending of the film of any meaningful impact. There's also a part of this reveal that presents a much more interesting and grandiose idea that is wiped away with a sentence and is never explored further. I find it intensely frustrating when a story presents something that is far more intriguing than what is being shown, because it devalues the current idea simply by act of comparison.

I actually wish that Nolan had been more cold and analytical with the story because it would have given him the opportunity to really let his imagination go broader and crazier. Interstellar wears its 2001: A Space Odyssey influences on its sleeve, but tries to inject a typical bit of heartwarming melodrama into a clinical examination of mankind's place and purpose in the universe. If Nolan had fully committed to his Kubrick-ian aspirations, I think Interstellar would be just as divisive a masterpiece as 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Even with these criticisms, I found Interstellar to be one of the most enjoyable theatrical outings I've had in a while. I can't stress the importance of seeing it in the best possible presentation method available. The images and sound coalesce so perfectly. If nothing else, Interstellar proves the raw power of film as a sensory experience. Mega budget films (especially science fiction ones) should strive to be as engrossing and ambitious as Interstellar.

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