While Interstellar marks the latest effort from The Dark Knight trilogy’s Christopher Nolan, the film shares more with Nolan’s original efforts (Inception, Memento) than his rendition of the caped crusader. Nolan’s biggest film in terms of scale and scope, Interstellar follows astronaut pilot Cooper, played by the hotter than ever Matthew McConaughey, as he leads a space expedition to save a dying earth that has become engrossed in a massive, apocalyptic dust bowl.
The first two hours of the film will undoubtedly please audiences. The first two acts wholeheartedly represent the film that is advertised in the trailer. It’s an awe inspiring, gripping tale of a journey into the unknown. And this is when the film and Nolan are at their best. But as the film transitions into its final hour, it takes a journey into the ridiculous, exploring complex ideas of alternate dimensions and quantum physics that is simply too heady and isolates the audience it has worked so hard to engage.
The film is ambitious, both narratively and visually. Shot by Her cinematographer, Hoyte Van Hoytema, who was recruited due to Nolan regular Wally Pfister’s unavailability, Interstellar is perhaps the most visually impressive film I have ever seen. I know people are heralding Birdman and Chivo Lubezki for creating the illusion of a continuous shot, but if Hoytema doesn’t take home the Oscar it would be a crime. Hoytema’s outer space is more impressive than Lubezki’s in last year’s Gravity, and he brings a certain rawness to the film that is absent in Alfonso Cuaron’s space thriller. But unfortunately, the challenging third act ultimately hinders the film and prevents it from bring the masterpiece many have been awaiting.
As has been revealed in recent interviews, Nolan likens his film to Stanley Kubrick’s epic, 2001: A Space Odyssey. But I would argue that Nolan’s film only pursues this comparison in the last hour, and his inability to achieve the existential complexity of Kubrick’s film makes the audience wish Nolan had concluded his film in a less complicated, more traditional manner that fits better with the rest of the film.
Interstellar is held together by its strong cast, though mostly McConaughey, who occupies the screen for a vast majority of the films nearly three hour run time. The film also boasts an A-list cameo that came across more as laughable than mind blowing, and ultimately takes the audience out of the film. Like Nolan’s third Dark Knight film, The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan bites off just a little more than he can chew. His failure to keep the film grounded has left critics and audiences feeling just a little let down. Many critics are still dishing it positive reviews for the gargantuan picture, but many of these reviews read more like second place trophies than genuine praise. There seems to be a feeling of hey not quite but you did your best and while these statements are true, I have a hard time lending feel good praise to a film and a director that are undeservingly demanding to be seen as the cream of the crop.
Interstellar opens worldwide on November 7