November 12, 2014
An inarticulate TED talk meets Goldilocks in Christopher Nolan’s ludicrous and slackly scripted sci-fi, which rips off elements of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Danny Boyle’s Sunshine, all under the guise of homage. Yet its execution bares all the subtlety of a schoolyard flasher, with twists and turns tit-taped together like stand-alone episodes of Star Trek- minus the quality acting and well-developed characters associated with that show.
Earth, as ever, is hurtling towards extinction, a blight wiping out most of humanity’s crops and leaving the United States looking like a TV adaptation of the Grapes of Wrath. History is being rewritten, the government claiming that the Moon landings were staged to bankrupt the Soviet Union. While society has regressed away from technology and back to nature, all be it too little, too late.
A last ditched attempt to save us all is undertaken by a (supposed to be defunct) NASA. They hope to fire a band of underdeveloped characters through a wormhole out by Saturn, to find a hospitable incubator for the future of our species.
Matthew McConaughey is a former pilot turned farmer, whose genius daughter is given the co-ordinates of this top secret NASA facility by a friendly ghost(?!?), where he just so happens to run into Michael Caine, his former professor and employer, who is heading up the aforementioned project.
Caine asks him to join his scientist daughter (Anne Hathaway), a sass sprouting robot called TARS (that is shaped like an arachnid KitKat) and two other non-entities, to retrace the steps of a team of possible martyrs, to figure out which of the three potential planets in this new star system is just right for the relocation of the species.
An offer he accepts, immediately, with no time spent building a relationship between the astronauts so that we can care a fig about them later. As he blasts, deafeningly, into space, he leaves behind not just his family, but the only half-way engaging (if equally underdeveloped) story line, about the dangers that awaits mankind if we carry on upon our environmentally ignorant way.
There are some fantastic visuals of space travel, almost balletic movement of star ships and at least one genuinely edge of your seat thrill ride, as we fly into wormholes and black holes and whoosh about atop of tidal waves. The differing planets and their perils set up the potential for great danger and intrigue.
But the movie quickly becomes submerged in scientific gobbledygook, articulated flatly, without the passion of argument, or the excitement of realisation, before capsizing beneath the weight of its multiple poorly constructed sub-plots.
‘Surprise’ cameos are revealed, then discarded, one confined mainly to intergalactic Skype; another burdened by a reveal Helen Keller could see coming.
Meanwhile, back on earth, McConaughey’s genius daughter grows up to be Jessica Chastain. A sullen scientist Caine has enlisted so she can help him set up another underwhelming twist, she runs about like the lead in an antiperspirant commercial, shouting inanities, as her story is clumsily spliced with her fathers.
The Nolan brothers simply cannot write. As with the Dark Knight Rises, they draw on terrific sources of inspiration, then bury their ideas in turgid set pieces, totally deprived of stakes. The characters resemble Top Trumps not human beings, their back stories and traits trotted out disinterestedly, with exposition cuckolding personality.
Even in terms of spectacle- while certainly impressive, the movie lacks the sense of imagination it bemoans mankind’s loss of. So dully grounded is it in what’s actually possible, it fails to compensate for the appalling gaps in its plot, the corny dialogue and the persistent emoting that explodes out of characters like a bad case of the trots.
The narrative payout stinks like a trampled on turd, the potent pong of it’s hideousness lasting long after the movie ends, undoing any good that comes from Hoyte van Hoytema’s excellent cinematography. While Hans Zimmer’s score apes the Phantom of the Opera before face planting into the keys, drowning out the actors during key moments.
If what you want is non-stop action- where plot and character are not important and their consistency and construction is less of a requirement then big bangs, Interstellar is the Wham Bar to further rot your mind. But if you are prone to pull at narrative threads, the whole thing will unspool, so lacking is it in concise plotting, common cop-on or original and long lasting thrills.
It’s a multi-million dollar fan made video of genre tropes lacking an emotional pay out.