Interstellar Review

interstellar-poster-3I just finally got back from seeing Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi space movie Interstellar and my response is WOW! In a way my experience with this movie was kind of unique when compared with other bloggers and reviews you might see.  Most people were extremely excited for this movie and then when it was different and more challenging than they expected they were disappointed (at least most people I know).  I on the other hand because I had waited had the opposite situation.  I was expecting to be bored and was totally engrossed.  So perhaps chalk it up to low expectations but I thought it was great!   I am also not a Christopher Nolan fangirl.  I love Inception but his other very popular movies I am more mixed on because I do not like scary or violent movies.

interstellar3I also am a huge fan of 2013’s Gravity and I wondered if I could tolerate another space movie since that one was done so well.  Well in my opinion Interstellar is an entirely different experience from Gravity.   It is like a combination of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Wrinkle in Time (wrap your brain around that).  Gravity is more of a thriller in space where this is a sci-fi drama.

I will try and tell you the plot but I actually don’t think the plot matters that much.  It’s about the experience of characters more than the intricacies of black holes and tesseracts. It’s kind of like in Star Wars we didn’t need to know all the  mumbo jumbo about midi-chlorians  and how the force works.  We just need to see that it is working.  We didn’t need to know about trade alliances and intergalactic treaties.  We just needed to know these are the good guys, this is the obstacle and these are the bad guys.  That’s the difference between the prequels which fail and the originals that succeed (and terrible acting, special effects and writing…)

With Interstellar I do not need one more minutia explained to me.  I just need to see it happen and how the characters react as they face challenges.  That’s it and it does it very well with stunning imagery and relationships that feel genuine and sincere.  Some have said it is boring.  I honestly did not feel that way.  I was engrossed the whole way.  To me Interstellar checks every box of a great sci-fi film.  It has characters I like, cool setting, action, mounting tension and strong allegorical or teaching plot elements.  Again, I do not need to know anything about the science. It could be complete hokum and it wouldn’t matter because within the world of the movie it works.  A lot of people hate the ending but I found it emotionally moving and again right what I wanted in a good sci-fi movie.

interestellar5The heart of the movie is a man named Cooper played by Matthew McConaughey.  He is an engineer/farmer who lives in Texas with his 2 children and father in-law (Mackenzie Foy, Timothee Chalamet and John Lithgow respectively).  It feels like a real family and the movie does a good job building up their relationships in the early sections.

interstellar6They are living in a dust-bowl world where crops are dying and the human race is in danger.  It is unclear what the timeframe for the world’s destruction is but again that doesn’t matter.  All that matters is we have an ending and a reason to go into space. Cooper had been a skilled pilot and through various means he and his daughter named Murphy meet a man named Prof Brand played by Michael Cain and his daughter Dr Amelia Brand played by Anne Hathaway.   They have been operating NASA under secret with a plan to dive into a wormhole to find 3 potentially habitable planets.  The hope is they can move the human race to these planets as earth is dying.

interstellar4Cooper is recruited to lead the mission but he knows going into the wormhole will likely mean his family will age ahead of him because of the theory of relativity.  His daughter Murphy tries to get him to stay but he goes and she is very bitter for some time.  Eventually she grows up to be both Jessica Chastain and Ellen Burystyn who actually all look a lot like little Mackenzie Foy so it works.  Casey Affleck plays the son Tom as an adult. He stays hopeful longer but eventually is forced to give up on his father but he stays in the old home running the farm.

interstellar7Amelia, Cooper, 2 other astronauts and 2 robots (who I loved. They have different comedy and truth telling settings. I kept waiting for them to be creepy robots but they weren’t)  are on the mission. Fairly quickly they get through the wormhole and must decide what planet to try and visit first (astronauts had been sent to all the planets previously).  They end up meeting up with another astronaut played by Matt Damon and have one challenge and adventure after another.  Their relationships are tested and they have to make difficult decisions to save themselves, their family and the human race.  Now that is drama!  I don’t want to give much more away about the plot.  But again I really thought the ending worked for this kind of story and movie.

The robots
The robots

It hopefully goes without saying that the special effects are astonishing and they feel palatable and real not like a green screen world.  There is humor mixed in with tense scenes where I honestly did not know what was going to happen.  That’s a real accomplishment in 2014 to make a sci-fi movie that surprises people.  There are very few character tropes and contrivances needed.  Just a story about relationships, family and exploration in space!  It’s like the Lewis and Clark of space movies.

intestellar2Most movie fans that I know look back at 1969 Oscars and wonder ‘how the heck did 2001: A Space Odyssey not get nominated for Best Picture?”.  I mean it might not be everyone’s cup of tea but to not even get nominated is ridiculous.  After all, how many people are still talking about Oliver! these days!  I have a funny feeling we will have the same experience in 2061 with Interstellar.  We will wonder what the heck were they thinking nominating a forgettable movie like The Theory of Everything over Interstellar? It’s kind of sad actually.  I only wish I had waited to do my best of 2014 because this and several other recent views would certainly have made the list.

The only problem I had with the movie was I did not care for the score.  Hanz Zimmer is great but I found the  music to be overbearing, too loud and at times distracting.  I would have gone with a more soft, subtle score like they had in Gravity which had long stretches with no music at all.

But that is a very small complaint.  I loved it! A great sci-fi movie.

As far as content there isn’t much to offend.  It does have tension and maybe one swear that I noticed but it’s pretty clean.  Kids might find it hard to follow but it just depends on the kid.  If they like sci-fi movies than they may love it. It’s certainly always good for kids to see movies that challenge them and make them think in new ways.  Interstellar will totally do that.

Overall Grade- A+  Content Grade- A

27 thoughts on “Interstellar Review

      1. Prestige is not scary and I liked it the first time I saw it but once I knew the twist I wasn’t as big a fan on watch #2.

        Dark Knight is a violent crime drama about a maniac terrorizing people’s lives. I felt extremely uncomfortable watching it and it gave me the spooks for weeks. Scenes like the pencil through the guys face was too violent for me. I told my friends I didn’t want to watch it but they insisted and I’ve always regretted it. People get very upset with me about that so I try to keep it on the down-low but it’s the truth. It was too intense and violent for my taste.

        Like I said very well made. Not taking anything away from Nolan but I didn’t’ enjoy watching it. I never saw DKR because of my experience with DK and I was so horrified by the events in Colorado. Too violent. Even Godfather movies I have to close my eyes for certain scenes.

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      2. It will be interesting to see if you ever see Interstellar if you like it. You might think it’s boring or you might like it. It worked for me.

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  1. Violence in movies sticks in my head and have a hard time dealing with it. It’s one thing if it is historic or battle violence but when it is personal violence (stalker, murderer, rapist etc) I have a harder time. I know it is weird but that’s just what happens in my brain when I see those images and scenes. But let’s talk Interstellar!

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    1. I can relate to that. I may have actually seen a clip of the pencil scene at one point and I actually thought it was funny in a dark morbid way and quintessionally Joker as I remembered him on Batman The Animated Series. It reminds me of the kind of humor you see in a Quentin Tarantino movie which I like. Also I don’t think it would be possible to drive a pencil into someone’s skull at least not that easily. It would likely penetrate the skin and if it all layers were broken, cause a great deal of bleeding which being a PG-13 movie we don’t even see. I tend to think logically, so things like this and Phoebus managing to ride off on horseback with no wounds before he’s shot despite jumping through a glass window just remove any impact something might otherwise have.

      But I actually am bothered by graphic violence, and what shocks me is what you can get away with on television that you can’t get in movies. I watched the first 2 seasons of the (in my opinion terrible) Western Hell on Wheels on AMC just out of curiosity to see how incompetent the writing would get and for the moments when it’s actually enjoyably bad. I covered my eyes plenty of times due to just how pointlessly disturbing and graphic scenes were with things like a Native American fighting a married couple and killing the husband, followed by the wife graphically ripping the arrow from his heart and plunging it in the throat of the Indian trying to kill her. Which I never saw in detail because I literally couldn’t stand and had to put my hands in front of the screen.

      There was one scene in the Season 2 finale that was just awful beyond belief. The crazed psychopath character had his hands cuffed behind his back but he managed to with hard work squeeze his arms which were horribly burned out despite infecting and aggravating the wounds beyond belief. The scene was ridiculously drawn out and slow portraying him getting his way out and finding a knife. It’s obvious what is going to happen but they pointlessly draw it out and make us watch it all anyway as he sneaks up behind the unsuspecting guard and very graphically cuts his throat open while holding his hand over his mouth and trying to be very careful to keep him quiet as he dies.

      It was like something out of a nightmare and I hated even watching it. So I understand completely how you feel.

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      1. Yuck. Sounds awful. TV can absolutely be as violent as movies. The other day I was watching Lifetime channel and they had an ad on for some creepy stalker movie and it gave me the spooks.

        All I can say about DK is I know it’s well made and acted and a good movie but I just found it to be too violent and scary for me. I totally see what you are saying about it being over the top and not realistic but what can I say? I just responded the way I responded. It was frustrating because I really wanted to like it because I love being a fan of something with my friends but it just wasnt for me. Darn it all

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      2. I started to watch Pulp Fiction but it was too violent for me too. I totally give it mad respect and certainly everything should not be made to tailor to me so it’s all good

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      3. I have never seen Pulp Fiction. I think violence should serve some artistic purpose in the narrative and if it is strong there needs to be an equally strong reason for it.

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      4. I’m the same way with all those shows. I watched Mad Men for about 4 seasons but I got a little bored with it but I will catch up from time to time.

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      5. I watched the whole show on Netflix Instant one episode a week and it works better that way. It made me appreciate it a great deal as a long-running story. Reading Alan Sepinwall and Todd VanDerweff’s review after every episode helped me appreciate it more too.

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      6. I looked at the Dark Knight scene on YouTube and it happens so quickly and shown in so little detail it’s actually next to impossible to see whether the pencil goes through his forehead or the eye. If it did get through the eye, I can say from personal experience this is realistic because when she was 6 one of my sister’s friends accidentally jabbed her through the eye with a car antenna and after removing her lens, the doctor said it came an inch short of killing her.

        Except that the Joker actually drives the pencil end into the table, so you can stop having nightmares about it because the man is obviously just lying on the floor stunned and I’m sure he’ll be able to wash all that eraser dust out of his eyes as soon as he gets to the bathroom.

        Sadly I caught an episode of the Adam West TV show on MeTV today where Cesar Romero’s Joker sprayed everyone in a salon with silly string so I’m afraid I will be having nightmares tonight.

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  2. It’s interesting to see a different perspective. I’m glad the film did make that impact on someone. I wouldn’t compare it to 2001 so much if it weren’t for the fact that the director himself kept doing that, and people on the Internet were suggesting it would outstage 2001. So the first time I saw it I was just extremely disappointed because I had prepared myself for something completely different. I also saw it too late at night and owing to the movie’s length I got very tired and bored and to be honest I tuned out. I wasn’t following what was happening for the last half hour because I honestly did not find it that interesting what happened to them on the planets.

    On the second time I knew what to expect and I enjoyed myself. I still didn’t love it but I could appreciate it more for what it was, a cheesy

    It’s interesting you talk about exposition not being a problem because I actually might say it was. I am glad you were able to relate to the characters but I thought they were mostly the generic family you get as protagonists in movies like this. The trouble is that having an emotional film like this relies so much on liking the characters. Many people resent 2001: A Space Odyssey for not giving its characters any real depth (apart from HAL 9000) but having watched this I think that was the right approach, but it fit the tone of that movie well. Here I didn’t feel much for them and the movie didn’t make much impact because of that. I also agree with Doug Walker
    (who really hated this film) that a lot of time is spent having the characters dropping exposition about the planets more than developing their character. When as you said we really didn’t need to know that much about the science and world of this movie. In other works we might need to know more so the exposition would be better suited and it shouldn’t come at the expense of caring about the characters. I don’t feel the manner of exposition excluded from the Harry Potter films (which is quite different) would have done that.

    It feels a bit like 2001 simplified for people who didn’t like 2001. The ending is imaginative but it feels so much like a tribute to the bewildering ending of 2001 that was audacious in its visuals, but audiences couldn’t relate to the emotions and walked out wondering what they had seen. This just makes the emotions so easy to relate to it feels all the more manipulative and simplistic. People resent 2001’s artistic choices but it did a lot to construct a specific tone and that was one that made humanity’s place on a cosmic scale more significant. The ending of Interstellar does feel out of place, and it feels like for all its imagination, all its audacity and great visuals, it’s just designed to provide maximum satisfaction for the audience without giving them anything to think about. They can relate to it, so they enjoy it, they smile, but there’s no real depth, no greater philosophical idea about humankind, and the film’s overwhelming visuals and grand epic sweep feel a bit like a betrayal. We are being asked to view a grand science-fiction quest, and in the end we don’t quite get what we bargain for. It seems to further the idea 2001 had that you can’t stick something that is intended to be so greatly ambitious and meaningful on the fate and relationships of a few fictional people. I think I might like to see The Tree of Life actually because it seems from what I’ve heard that it did a similar story to 2001 that picked up on the human front 2001 ignored and may have actually pulled it off.

    This movie has great visuals but I feel it uses those visuals simply to try to make you think it’s a great science fiction movie, when the story and the themes are so much more conventional. And after watching 2001 and what an original that movie was in its time, I can’t really say the same for this. It is a fun, light-hearted sci-film, but not one I think I will be watching again any time soon. But again this is all my subjective experience. Plenty of people feel 2001 failed at what it was trying to do. I would say they were never in the mood for what it was trying to do to begin with, but if 2001 didn’t work for them and this one did I won’t argue with that.

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    1. Totally valid point of view. Thanks for sharing it. I didn’t think they talked much about the science and I was very bonded to the characters but again I went in with very low expectations which may have helped. But yeah I can see how it would be a polarizing movie and I dont think it as abstract as 2001. I agree with you it is probably 2001 lightweight but I was probably more bonded to the characters than 2001 and I think it is an important part of good scifi. If you didnt feel that bond than I get what you are saying.

      My point in bringing up 2001 aside from it being an inspiration is I do think we will remember Interstellar and Oscar nominees like The Theory of Everything will be forgotten kind of like 2001 is remembered but Oliver really isnt.

      Anyway I was totally engrossed with it but I can see why it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. I particularly liked all the women who played Murphy. It seemed like the same person and I found her extremely sympathetic and moving.

      I really thought the story and themes were very scifi with time and space and a allegory to the ghosts in our lives. It was a very hopeful picture about never giving up on people you love.

      Anyway I see what you are saying. Glad you enjoyed some aspects. Take care

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      1. 2001 lightweight, yes, and sure enough Confused Matthew is praising it on his website right now talking about how it’s one of the best science fiction films in years and it gave him a genuine cinematic experience. And he’s comparing it to 2001, which “had all atmosphere and little else”.

        Yawn. What else is a surprise?

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      2. Ha! Confused Matthew is a one of a kind. I agree with part of that review!

        I tend to like the movie review channels and shows with more than one perspective like the old Siskel and Ebert or current channels-What the Flick and Schmoes Know. I’m a little tired of the whole ‘angry critic’ shtick on things like the Nostalgia Critic. It was funny for a while but I’m over it.

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