Since it was announced, Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi blockbuster has been heavily loaded with expectations, not to mention an almost unconceivable amount of hype. This has clearly affected the well-known director, as he ventures out on a journey far beyond his capacity, into a universe that is too hard for him to grasp.
“Interstellar” is set in the near future, where earth is slowly running out of its resources. Crop supplies are rapidly decreasing, education is at halt, and a spreading plant infestation is significantly reducing the planet’s oxygen-levels. To save humanity, former NASA-pilot Cooper must leave his home behind, in hopes saving his family and find a new, populatable place for mankind.
I will get so much for flag for what I am about say, but so be it. This movie is a mess. A beautiful one, indeed, but spectacle is merely the supportive tissue of the muscle that is the actual film. I won’t question the tremendous audacity it took to put together a vision of such vastness, but when the emotions and facts seem lightyears apart, I simply cannot help but wonder who this movie was really made for; the 1 %, or the 99 % of the population.
The fundamental mistake here is also what makes it so fascinating; the ambition. You feel the director’s megalomania from the very first frame, and for the first hour or so, it works impeccably. We care about Cooper and the tough decisions that he has to make. Should he be a good father or a good human? Is life worth saving, if the ones he loves are left to rot? The empathy for his character is unquestionable. But the moment it launches into space, things falter completely.
The tone starts shifting chaotically, floating somewhere between grounded, scientific realism and preposterous science-fiction nonsense. Theories about relativity, the laws of gravity, and quantum-mechanical structures are thrown at you so forcefully, that you will eventually become overwhelmed if you are not Stephen Hawkins, or have an IQ above 160. On top of that, it is super melodramatic and extremely heavy-handed, to the point where ordinary people don’t sound like ordinary people anymore, but rather like philosophers and science-prophets. It takes away from the credibility of it all, which is a shame, because Nolan is clearly trying to tell us something important about our place in the universe. He just kicks the ball far past the goal, and into a maze of too many unexplored hypotheses.
The dramaturgy is way off, never leading to anything of any greater meaning. Sure enough, they do find inhabitable planets, but that is really where it ends. No interesting discoveries are being made, no useful information is gathered, and no revelatory encounters occur. Since they somehow thought it was clever to include an A.I. robot that looks like a walking iPhone, and cracks jokes like a stand-up comedian, I assume the space craft to the real world is long gone. So if they are gutsy enough to add elements of fiction, one would think that they would go full-throttle into the imagination. But instead of being speculative and inventive, it chooses to fall back on mathematical jargon and un-clarified equations, which just makes it confusing and incomprehensible – not because we don’t get it, but because there is so much of it, that our human brains simply cannot digest it all.
Apart from all the over-dramatic dialogue and tonal inconsistencies, the movie is also plauged by a sheer lack of perspective. Pacing-wise, it starts off very slow, but as soon as things begin to unfold, the velocity at which things happen is so high, we don’t believe any of it for a second. Where did Cooper get all his science knowledge from? How does he understand so much about NASA’s plans, even though he hasn’t been active for years? These are just a few of the many question that are posed, but never answered properly. It is as if the filmmakers assume that we are able to fill in the blank spaces, but thinking about it, it would be contradictory to the fact that it is so agressively trying to teach us a life lesson. When you pay that much attention to detail, don’t tell me that my personal investment is less important than facts. Because if I don’t get it, all science in the world won’t be any good.