You f*cked it up.....
Without a doubt the most anticipated film of the year, Interstellar is the latest from visionary film director Christopher Nolan. While his last work, The Dark Knight Rises, received a lot of criticism, I actually still quite enjoy it as a mindless popcorn flick. My first watch of his previous work, Inception, was one of my best first watches ever, and that movie still is one of my favorites. And then there's The Dark Knight, which I think is one of the best movies of the 2000s. I'm still upset that that movie wasn't even nominated for Best Picture.... aaaaaand then there's this. I've noticed a trend in the post-Dark Knight Nolan films: when deciding between making commercial films or art films, Nolan has increasingly been choosing the former. This shows glaringly in the third act of this 169 minute film, as the train wreck that occurs in the final hour of the film can be only categorized as disastrous. I am prepared for the rage, but seriously, give the movie some time and sit on it and analyze it, and you'll agree with me.
So first off, the pluses. This movie is incredible to watch. The cinematography can be categorized as some of the best I have ever seen. Hotye Van Hoytema is one of the best cinematographers in the industry right now, as his spectacular wide shots combined with Nolan's 70 mm IMAX cameras are worth the price of admission alone. Seriously. Since you are going to go see the movie regardless of what I say and just agree with me eventually, go and see this movie on the largest screen that you can possibly see it in. This movie really makes me wish that the only theater here in Harrisonburg had an IMAX theater. Next up the score. The score! This is absolutely one of the best scores ever written by Hans Zimmer, and my finally lead to his first Oscar win. The themes in this movie are as memorable as anything I've ever heard, and some that I am absolutely going to listen to again and again. Also the sound and visual effects are both awesome. I definitely see Oscar nominations for these in the future and quite possibly wins for both. However, the interpretation and visualization of space is still far better in Gravity than Interstellar. This is a result of what I was saying before: when faced with the decision of making a commercial film or making an art film, Nolan will pick the former. Gravity is an art film. There is a lot of time in it focusing on the veils and blankness of space. Interstellar is a commercial film. It does not take the time to focus on these elements. I'll explain further soon. Anyway, the last positive thing to say is that the acting is amazing. Anne Hathaway is the star, and Matthew McConaughey puts in another fantastic performance (the days of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and Fool's Gold are looooong gone, everyone) and Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, Michael Cain, and David Gyasi all put in very very strong performances as a fantastic supporting cast. Honestly this might be the best supporting cast of the year thus far. The groundwork was laid in the first two acts for a masterpiece. For the movie that would define Nolan's distinguished career. The movie that would be labeled by many as the greatest sci-fi movie ever made. The emotions were real. The struggle of humanity was real. The drive in McConaughey to see his kids again was powerful and emotional. The movie was brilliant. And then Nolan f*cked it up.
So, about the third act. If I'm feeling up for it, I'll write a spoiler review at some point because it should be done, however here is a spoiler-free rant about it. Hey guys, wanna sound intelligent when you take your date to see Interstellar? The movie was co-written by Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan. And by co-written it means fun fact! the movie was actually two separate stories crammed into one. You don't really have to be paying attention to know when the first story ends and the second begins, but I'll give you a hint: it happens right around the point where the second planet is explored. All of the sudden, out of nowhere, the movie turns on a dime. The movie forgoes the powerful emotional story about seeing your children again and the weight of venturing near black holes and the idea of time that was established in the first two acts and instead turns into a very generic sci-fi action movie, where Nolan randomly decides to spend a lot of time pounding us with the theme of the faults of man. We then proceed to have a "space doesn't instantly kill you" type of moment like we did in Guardians of the Galaxy (that was my least favorite moment in that otherwise fantastic movie) because nowadays in commercial movies we cannot have any of the major characters die. Lo and behold we kill a main character in a commercial movie nowadays! The movie just gets worse after this point, as the movie essentially says f*ck physics and logic in the final hour so we can have suspense! Because commercial movies need suspense! I wouldn't mind this if the whole movie was like this, but after physics plays such a huge role in the first two acts, for the movie to essentially turn it around on a dime is criminal. Hey let's randomly throw in love at the last second and then make it the overarching theme of the movie, because commercial movies need relationships! Nah, forget the kids. Let's talk about love. Again, this is my growing problem with Nolan and his films: when faced with the choice of making a commercial movie or an art movie, he follows the commercial route. Nolan is like Imagine Dragons. He is very much in the mainstream, yet everyone who is a major fan thinks that means they are "cultured" and like art, or indie rock. Imagine Dragons is not indie rock, everyone. It's mainstream rock. Christopher Nolan makes commercial films. Don't you dare try to say after the third act of Interstellar that Nolan makes earth-shattering art films. Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity is still the masterpiece. It's still best film in recent memory for the sci-fi genre. And it's still an art film. Now is there anything wrong with being a commercial filmmaker? NO. No there is not. I like Christopher Nolan just as much as I like Imagine Dragons. Hell mentioning them made me start playing their new singles while writing this review. However, we have to accept Nolan and Imagine Dragons for what they are. Nolan is a commercial filmmaker. End of discussion. Which is a huge disappointment because this movie is hyped as the movie of the decade. It is not. It is nothing more than an above average sci-fi movie that would've been so much better had it been an hour shorter and just ended on the second planet. This is the year of horrible third acts, everyone. Just a damn shame that Interstellar had to join the group.
The Critique: an above average sci-fi movie. Fantastic visuals, but a disastrous third act prevents it from taking its place at the top of the sci-fi genre.
The Recommendation: I'd still recommend this as a must-see. Just greatly temper your expectations.
Rewatchability: Moderately Low
The Verdict: 6/10 Above Average
Oscar Talk: I foresee double digit nominations for Interstellar, however wins are another story. Picture, Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Cinematography, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Production Design, Visual Effects, and Original Score will all likely see Interstellar in their categories. Also, calling it right now: Hans Zimmer finally wins the Oscar for Best Original Score this year.