Interstellar – Review (Spoiler Free)

I joyously salute this space adventure for both its bravery and intelligence, despite it’s unfortunate flaws…


There are many out there who are ripping Interstellar to shreds for reasons such as its flawed internal logic and its ambitious nature, and some of these criticisms are just and I’ll duly address those. But those who are attacking the film for ambitiously and intellectually grappling with complex scientific phenomenons including black holes and wormholes are really missing the point; not just about this film in particular, but about the joy of movies in general. It’s rare indeed to see a film as ambitious as this; which aims to give us something more challenging than the next Avengers movie, and which celebrates real science and human ingenuity via an accessible and moving human story.

Now, I mentioned Marvel’s Avengers a moment ago, and I should be clear that I am really looking forward to what the studio is bringing out over the following years. Blockbusters like that are reminiscent of the first film I saw in the cinema as a kid, which was Star Wars. I love good, entertaining films in that sort of a mould. Arguably it’s where my love of cinema as an experience stems from. And this is one element of Interstellar which I hugely admired yesterday when I saw it; this is a film which is built for the cinema. It really dazzles visually as it takes us to worlds and experiences which haven’t been attempted on screen before, certainly not with such a keen scientific and visual eye. It’s magical to experience new worlds and visions on the big screen, especially so when the seats are shaking from the noise level and the screen is as big as it can feasibly be. Here Nolan really justifies his love of IMAX for the first time.

Interstellar receives an incredible amount of bonus points for its admirable reach towards something more challenging and discussion worthy than most films out there today, but I have to put that to one side now and address the film’s flaws. The film’s discussion regarding love is far from well handled. I get that Nolan tried to paint a portrait of man’s various emotions and ideas here, but frankly he shouldn’t have tried. I read a review recently from somebody who claimed that some of the dialogue regarding love could have come straight out of  Star Wars: Episode II and, whilst that’s a little harsh, it’s also reasonably on point. This aspect of the film is naive at best, and occasionally threatens to really undermine the film’s pleasant focus on science, rather than on Hollywood magic. The film’s treatment of loss though is different. It’s no spoiler to say that when McConaughey leaves earth to try and save it he makes a tremendous sacrifice in leaving his two kids with the possibility of never seeing them again. This emotional underpinning is given real heft by the key performances involved and basically carries the picture throughout.

The other unfortunate flaw of this film is both how long it is and how short it is. By that I mean there is a lot going on in this story and some of it consequently feels rather underdeveloped. There are areas which are left unexplored or character decisions which we don’t have the back-story to. Nolan either needed to go for an epic here and really explore some elements of the script properly. Or, and this is probably the better option, reign it in a bit and tighten up the story. The other elements which others have focused on are some of the leaps of the imagination which the film asks you to take. Though I am pretty much OK with these however as so much of the film is grounded in science that it almost balances out. It’s definitely far easier to digest than the often ridiculous Gravity of last year, a film which Interstellar is easily superior to.

Ultimately I am going to recommend this film to anyone who loves cinema, sci-fi and human drama. It isn’t perfect by any means; the love element is poor and some of it is underdeveloped, but it has more brains than most films we see on a day to day basis and has plenty of heart too.  In short it’s a blockbuster which does exactly what it aims to do, which is to dazzle with its visual splendor and make your heart soar with its story. On top of that you also get some interesting ideas to ponder over whilst chewing your popcorn. It’s a success in my eyes.

Summary:

What is the film’s greatest strength? It’s a tie between the visuals and the father-daughter story.

Its greatest weakness? It must be the use of love here.

Would I see it again? Yes, I hope to. Having said that it will loose a fair amount when on the small screen.

Thanks for reading, feel free to let your thoughts run free in the comment box below!

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21 comments

  1. Great review. Wasn’t a fan of the film, though. For me, it felt like it went on forever, and I also couldn’t connect emotionally.

    1. Cheers buddy. I know that this one has divided people a fair bit, I agree it could haw been cut down somewhat but I definitely connected emotionally here!

        1. I tend to side w/ Fernando on this one James. I gave the movie 3.5 as there some things I like about it but overall it’s not as memorable or engaging as I’d have liked. It’s actually more fun reading all the articles on its plot holes afterwards 😉

          1. Haha fair enough, I get that it does have issues but I really liked an awful lot about it none the less!

  2. Excellent work here James. I was a fan of this one, flaws and all, and I am happy to see that you enjoyed it 😀 Wasn’t it just stunning? Those visuals!

    1. Thanks Zoë, glad to hear you’re on board with Interstellar!
      Wasn’t it just… I was so impressed with the visuals at times!

      1. There was that one scene… the reconnecting one? Damn, edge of my seat!

        1. Yeah that was very tense… I also found the wave parts pretty extreme!

  3. Good review. I really enjoyed the visuals in the cinema, but I particularly loved the music.

    1. Cheers, I think I need to see it again to fully appreciate the music. I was aware of it but the visuals somewhat dominated for me the first time around.

      1. Haha, there was one particular cue (it plays as they’re approaching the wormhole for the first time, ie. leaving our solar system) that I thought sounded a lot like the “Space March” from Moonraker – I wished you were there so I could point it out.

        1. Hmmm… I’ll have to listen out for it. Having said that it has been so long since I saw Moonraker that I would probably have to watch that first… which I’m not ecstatic about!

        2. What did you think of the film itself?

          1. I wasn’t a fan, I thought the whole thing just relied too much on trying to recreate 2001.
            Having watched Moonraker twice-ish in the last two years I actually like it a lot now, it’s got maybe John Barry’s best score, Ken Adam’s most ambitious sets, one unbelievable action setpiece (the cable-car), & the space effects leave Star Wars in the shade. Granted it doesn’t have any story weight or thematic depth which means it sort of dissolves a few hours after watching it, but it’s a heck of a ride in the moment. Yes, I am saying I liked Moonraker more than Interstellar.

          2. Haha in that case I think we are going to be completely opposed to each other! I’ll tell you what, I’ll watch Moonraker again and then let you know what I think.

  4. For some reason I really dug the love aspect of the film, that scene with Anne Hathaway where she tried justifying her decision to go to her planet was definitely off but by the end of the film everything she said started resonating with me, felt kinda neat. But maybe I have an overly mushy heart ha. Great review!

    1. Haha!
      Yeah Hathaway’s speech was a low point but I wasn’t a fan of much of the love stuff to be honest. Glad to hear you liked it though as it must have really enriched the film for you!

  5. Great review! 🙂 I’m one of the “negative” people but I find it’s an age thing with this movie (us old people are perhaps just too grumpy). 😉 It’s just nowhere near the sci-fi classics for me (things like 2001). I do love your honest review, though, and always appreciate reviews that point out a movie’s flaws as well as the good things. Funny – I actually far preferred Gravity…. Star Wars is the first thing you saw in the cinema?? PLEASE tell me you’re talking original trilogy… 😉

    1. It’s not a classic (or should I say future classic) to me either to be honest, but I appreciated that it paid more than just lip service to science like so many movies do, and also that it had a powerful drama at its heart.

      What was it you liked about Gravity then? I really wanted to like that film…

      Yeah I’m talking about the original movie! Albeit when it was re-released in the early 90’s!

    2. Oh and thanks!

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