<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Christopher Nolan. Starring Matthew McConoaughey, Anne Hathaway, Mackenzie Foy, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, Wes Bentley, Topher Grace, John Lithgow, Michael Caine, Bill Irwin
With the Dark Knight films and Inception, people expect big things from Christopher Nolan. There are some who predict his decline though. This film may prove them right.
Interstellar is a film that tries to be something more than it actually is. For me, it’s a very, very long episode of Star Trek done on half the budget. Or at least it looks like half the budget with its 80s feel. Wormholes, black holes and time travel are all part of Star Trek lore and this franchise has done more material on those subjects than any other TV show or movie. Which is why Interstellar seems like a cheap knockoff compared to it. Of course not everyone has seen Star Trek so perhaps they’ll be fooled.
In Interstellar we open on the future, which looks pretty much like the past. There’s a farm and we’re told through dialogue between the characters that a mysterious dust storm called the Blight has ruined the world’s food supply and mankind is struggling. The only indications of all this is a lot of dust and some people coughing. Which seems like a typical day in Mumbai actually!
‘Coop’ or Cooper (Matthew McConoaughey) is an ex NASA man who is now a farmer since that’s the only profession that matters. No time to send men into space when the Earth is starving. His daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy) stays in a room that is haunted by a ‘ghost’ that sends her coordinates to a secret NASA base, which father and daughter quickly stumble upon. And equally quickly, Professor Brand (Michael Caine) and his daughter (Anne Hathaway) recruit Cooper to pilot a space mission through a mysterious wormhole that has appeared to find another planet for humanity to start afresh.
Without batting an eyelid, Cooper leaves his family behind and off he goes as if he’d been flying through wormholes all his life. Lots of scientific theory gets bandied about between the cast and none of it is particularly engaging. A lot of the story is just rushed through, which is strange considering the film is two hours and fifty minutes long.
Interstellar flip flops between space and Earth. Since time is ‘relative’ on Earth, Coops family are all grown up while he is still the same age. Middle age Murph played by Jessica Chastain has had a troubled life resentful that her father left them and never came back. But we haven’t seen any of these growing up moments between her and her brother Tom (Casey Affleck) and his family. Neither are we shown any of the tragedy on Earth apart from the details that come up in dialogue. So there’s no empathy there or nothing you can relate to. The only tragedy you can see is some dust and a few dead crops.
Michael Caine as the Professor who has orchestrated the Plan A and Plan B for humanity’s survival spews some philosophical poetry that is given more gravitas with Hans Zimmer’s moving score. The music works very hard to lend that epic quality to the film but it never really does the job.
All the talk of gravity in the film makes you think of the much better movie Gravity that wowed audiences with its brilliant direction and CGI scenes. That film was visually sumptuous and entertaining as well. Neither of which can be said for Interstellar. And the only humour in Nolan’s long, drawn out ‘opus’ comes from boxy metallic robots that look like they were designed in a KitKat factory.
I was befuddled with the technical jargon and unsure about the whole relativity thing, which didn’t quite add up in terms of how the crew ages. By the time they finally reach an icy planet where a sole astronaut called Dr Mann (surprise cameo) is in hyper sleep I’ve lost all interest even in the minor twist that is offered up.
The cast are all good actors but they seem to be hyper sleeping their way through the film. Maybe it’s the lacklustre script that tries to give ‘love’ a new spin by making it out to be a universal constant or something like that. Lots of clichés and not enough soul. I’m not the biggest fan of Inception but at least that film was cleverly crafted, entertaining and actually left something at the end for the audience to think about. Interstellar’s ho-hum time travel conundrum is just that. You’re like, “Okay, so?”
Interstellar has been marketed cleverly; it may have the illusion of being some 2001: A Space Odyssey lookalike but it’s not even close. I’ve seen Star Trek episodes that I’ve enjoyed more and have made more sense than this film.
PS: Read this interesting article: Does the science behind Nolan’s Interstellar add up? from news.com.au