Nolan's INTERSTELLAR is a big film. Its ambitions are big, its worlds… MoreNolan's INTERSTELLAR is a big film. Its ambitions are big, its worlds are large, the stakes are high, the music is grand. At first glance, it is what any moviegoer wishes for - a proven big-time filmmaker embarking on a personal journey to make something huge, to be bold, to reinvigorate modern cinema with its own sci-fi classic while taking homage to the all-time classics of old. It it as promising a film as any other in recent memory. The fact that the film does not work (on so many levels) thus easily makes it one of the most frustrating pieces of cinema in contemporary history.
To delve into the film's many issues and pitfalls requires a much longer conversation. However, INTERSTELLAR does get plenty of things right: it is a true wonder to watch a movie like this on the big screen given its huge science-fiction premise and the giddiness of seeing different worlds realized in such a realistic and believable way; it is an epic journey that has emotional resonance - we feel the characters suffer, we understand what is at stake in terms of not only family but the entire human race; the organ-infused music is thrilling, grandiose, and incredibly yet equally as overwhelmingly synced to the narrative unfolding in front of us; and the presentation and exploration of the idea of reaching beyond our limits and entering uncharted territories in a dimensional and spatial sense deserves much admiration. Why then does the film not work? Why won't we be treating this film in 45 years the way we hold Kubrick's classic on its own pedestal now?
As engaging and as profound and as committed Nolan is, I just don't buy it. It just does not click. The logic falls apart. Viewers are asked to do too much, to let too many things slide in order to accept it as a sort of film that is supposed to be masterful. The film tries way too hard and forces too many things. The list goes on and on and on. For more forgiving viewers who are seduced by the expert blend of technical mastery in which music, camera, editing, and acting mixed together work to give a very strong illusion that something really, really, really important is happening - and subsequently and painfully resulting in said viewers calling the film 'great' and 'awesome' - the film is a masterpiece. However, what the film does extremely well is force-feed the drama. Everything is presented with a kind of wonder - the gorgeous cinematography, the set pieces, the journey; everything feels heavy. By doing so, the hope is that viewers will forget about the continuity and logistical mishaps and accept the film as something more than what it deserves to be. Yes, this is a movie, and it is filled with movie-like moments, but no, I refuse to be seduced. The flaws are beyond recovery, and once viewers realize just how much the film is asking them to do, it becomes not only a turn off, but flat-out annoying.
INTERSTELLAR gives the illusion of a masterpiece. It desperately wants to be a modern classic. It is in a sense, the anti-GRAVITY - big and filled with forced emotion, and to be frank, much less effective. Whereas Cuaron's film stuck to its simplicity, Nolan's wants to thrive in its complexity, and it is this desire that prevents it from succeeding further. Do I recommend seeing it? Yes, I do actually, for the sake of discussion and seeing it for yourself. For that, perhaps the film has already stood its ground. However, to state it sadly, the film could have been so much more. Instead, it stands as one of the most frustrating disappointments to hit the screen in recent years.