Earlier this week we posted a review of Interstellar after our own Editor in Chief Harry Parkhill was fortunate enough to attend an early screening. Personally I lapped up Harry’s opinion as a sprig of hope for the latest Nolan effort as the marketing efforts simply hadn’t given me anything in particular to be excited about. In hindsight, that’s probably because Interstellar has nothing exciting to offer, let alone market. Let me be abundantly clear: I hate this movie and I hate almost everything about it. Although I entered my own screening cautiously optimistic (if not necessarily especially enthused) I left so crushingly disappointed that I found myself angry at the time spent watching it, something I’ve never felt for any of the poor films I’ve reviewed previously.
Perhaps Interstellar‘s biggest problem is that the entire film is just goddamn boring. Clocking in at three hours and nine minutes, Interstellar meets Christopher Nolan’s prerequisite requirement of being too freaking long (the last movie Nolan brought in under the two hour mark was 2002’s Insomnia) and a great deal of this run time is filled with expository dialogue; dialogue explaining the history of this near future world, talking heads with no context (as if this were some unimaginative documentary) explaining, no, highlighting elements of the scenes that follow. Interstellar has no faith in it’s audience to notice these little touches and less faith in our ability to interpret the themes of the movie. Lengthy conversations ask the questions that the characters actions should have asked for them and it is all painfully dull. The first half of Interstellar cannot decide if it’s an essay on physics or ethical populace management but either way it sure as hell isn’t an engaging adventure movie. It’s all so lacking in subtlety and so on the nose, it feels very much as if Nolan is holding onto some chip on his shoulder from the fact that audiences wouldn’t simply accept the ambiguous conclusion of Inception and is actively refusing to leave anything up to audience interpretation. It’s lazy writing and insulting film-making.
Speaking of the film-making, I’m astonished by all the rigmarole surrounding Interstellar‘s presentation. I’ll throw this out to anybody who has been feeling disheartened by critics and film-makers suggesting that Interstellar needs to be seen in IMAX or on a film-print: it doesn’t. It’s a fine looking film, well shot and well framed as is to be expected but…there’s nothing new here. There’s a ravaged earth, with a mixture of practical effects and clearly evident CG, there’s a whole bunch of space (still not as impressively portrayed as in 2001: A Space Odyssey after all these years and technical ascents), there’s a water planet and an ice planet that you’ve seen on the posters plastered all across your local bus sides and billboards (and every other space opera in the last 30 years) . It’s simply not worth shelling out nearly twice the cost of a ticket to see the single original environment that Interstellar has to offer on a larger screen.
Despite such non-deserved hype the visuals are only accentuated by a cast of truly fantastic performances . The characters however almost all fall into the camp of irrational or underrepresented, making it difficult to care about almost anyone. McConaughey bolsters the films emotional core through sheer unadulterated skill but even his scenes are frequently undercut by what can only be described as the worst sound mix I’ve ever heard. An obnoxious score frequently undercuts the action and in place of any sort of emotional resonance, the volume of that score has instead just been turned up REALLY LOUD. It’s integrated awfully and I can only assume it’s presented this way to stop me from falling asleep somewhere around the 90 minute mark or to compensate for the fact that I didn’t care about anything happening onscreen.
When Harry finished up his review he described Interstellar as an experience, and I can’t disagree, I just don’t think it’s an experience worth having. He also described it as Nolan’s most spellbinding feature yet. Here, I do disagree and would go so far as to suggest that Interstellar is one of the weakest films of the entire year. Whether Nolan truly reached for the stars or not, all I received was dirt and dust.
Interstellar is out now in cinemas everywhere. For our original Interstellar review click here. Image Rights; Warner Bros.