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The UnPopular Opinion: Interstellar

10.06.2016

THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!

****SOME SPOILERS ENSUE****

I respect the hell out of Christopher Nolan. I think he has managed to deliver some of the best films of the 21st century but they may not be the ones that most people would name. I love INCEPTION and MEMENTO but view THE PRESTIGE as one of the filmmaker's best works. I love THE DARK KNIGHT trilogy even though I am bothered by plot-holes throughout the franchise. But, Nolan is a director who sometimes steps outside of his comfort zone to deliver something audacious and visually stunning even if it falls short of being a truly good movie. INTERSTELLAR is one of the most visually impressive movies I have ever seen but is bogged down by one of the clumsiest screenplays ever written, one that is unable to find a middle ground between science fact and blitheringly vanilla dialogue. INTERSTELLAR is a movie that should have been a masterpiece but ends up as a forgettable cautionary tale about our planet's future that holds a spot right next to movies like CONTACT.

The secrecy surrounding the films of Christopher Nolan is rivaled only by the works of J.J. Abrams. Nolan is a master at revealing nothing and yet still managing to make our mouths water with every teaser and trailer for his movies. With INCEPTION, Nolan managed to give us an original work that throws caution to the wind and kept most of the plot a mystery until it premiered in theaters. That is a feat that is difficult to accomplish. While some argue that INCEPTION's nomination for Best Picture was unworthy, it represented both the cinematic achievement on screen, the intricate plotting, and the box office success it enjoyed. INTERSTELLAR, on the other hand, checks off all of those same elements and yet doesn't come close to the unique originality of INCEPTION. In fact, INTERSTELLAR may be one of the most lazily scripted movies that is also incredibly intelligent. Chalk that up to the high concept science at the story's core and not the melodramatic and tone deaf dialogue spoken by Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, and Jessica Chastain.

The UnPopular Opinion, Feature, Column, Christopher Nolan, Interstellar, Drama, Science Fiction, Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway

INTERSTELLAR has a lot to say about our environment. Taking place in a near future where the planet is no longer sustainable for human life, scientists and astronauts are selected to travel on a one-way mission to find potentially inhabitable planets for humanity to relocate to. While that sounds wholly conventional of a plot...oh, wait, it is wholly conventional. Analyzing INTERSTELLAR's depth truly focuses around the scientifically accurate concepts of wormholes and tesseracts. While there is no hard evidence of how these function, the theories of scientist Kip Thorne were integral to making this tale seem as realistic as possible. While I was entranced by the visualization of the wormhole and tesseract as well as the potential planets explored by Cooper and his crew, I was left hollow by everything else. Yeah, the reactions of the cast to learn how much time had elapsed on Earth and the dwindling relationship between Cooper and Murphy was emotionally resonant, it didn't ring as true as the science in the movie.

In order for a film to work, all elements must be in alignment. One of the biggest problems Nolan has faced since THE DARK KNIGHT is his sound mixing. Throughout INTERSTELLAR, the dialogue spoken by the cast is drowned out by the score and ambient audio. It becomes so much of an effort to try and discern what characters are saying that it completely takes you out of the movie. By that same rationale, you cannot fully invest yourself into this fictional story because the characters are written so two-dimensionally. Yeah, Dr. Mann lied and wanted to be rescued. From the moment Matt Damon's character was mentioned, I knew he was full of shit. I also knew that Dr. Brand (Michael Caine) was full of shit when he mentioned his Plan A and Plan B. I have watched a lot of movies in my life and I still find myself able to give suspension of disbelief for the most ridiculous stories and plots, but if this film were not directed by Christopher Nolan it would have been panned across the critical spectrum.

The UnPopular Opinion, Feature, Column, Christopher Nolan, Interstellar, Drama, Science Fiction, Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway

The biggest problem with INTERSTELLAR is the scope. This is truly an epic concept told on an epic scale but with an intimate focus on the meaning of family and love. Christopher Nolan's biggest failure is overlooking minor quibbles in favor of the expansive scale of the movie. Everything that leads the characters is propelled outside of their own decisions or will. There could be an argument made that fate would override the destiny of these characters, but assuming that the decisions of those we see on screen are beyond their control, we are left with an abyssmal and boring movie. There is a nihilism and lack of hope in this movie despite hope being the driving force for the characters to try and survive. The ending of the movie almost feels like a deus ex machina that only exists to not leave the film with a bummer of an ending.

Which leads me to what dooms INTERSTELLAR. No matter what the actors could do on screen or what the cinematography of Hoyte van Hoytema or the score by Hans Zimmer could add to the film, INTERSTELLAR is screwed by the tesseract. During the rushed first act of the film where we are introduced to Murphy's "ghost", I knew we were in for a groan-worthy explanation. Turns out, the tesseract is represented by an infinite library of bookshelves which is on the opposite side of the shelves in Murphy's room. This means that time and space are interconnected and none of the actions these characters made would have led to any other ending aside from the one onscreen. It also means that space or science or god or aliens or whatever controls the universe knew Cooper would save humanity before he even knew. This rivals Jodie Foster meeting her father as the representative of alien life in CONTACT as one of the most forced and saccharine explanations in modern film history.

The UnPopular Opinion, Feature, Column, Christopher Nolan, Interstellar, Drama, Science Fiction, Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway

INTERSTELLAR should have been a cut and dry success for Christopher Nolan. Instead it proves exactly why ambition can outpace quality by delivering a film that works on every level except one: story. If it wasnt for that pesky plot, INTERSTELLAR would be an immortal film in the annals of movie history rather than an ultimately forgettable film. I rarely hear people talk about popping their copy of the movie on and just watching it the way they mention any number of other Nolan films. That is a clear indictment of the movie's failure to capture the awe that it was aiming for. With such a talented cast and crew, INTERSTELLAR should have been so much more than just another cautionary science fiction tale. Maybe it is a good thing that Nolan is moving into a period piece for his next film and taking a break from the big budget fantasy worlds he has played in recently. I hope the change of pace will revitalize his creativity so he can deliver a film that lives up to it's promise again.

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion I’m always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to [email protected], spell it out below, slap it up on my wall in Movie Fan Central, or send me a private message via Movie Fan Central. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you'd care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!
Source: JoBlo.com

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