Interstellar (12A)

Directed by Christopher Nolan
Starring Matthew McConnaghey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Mackenzie Foy, Matt Damon

I love space movies! However, they often have serious problems with their third acts and resolutions. Jodie Foster's Contact (also starring Matthew McConaughey) is the film this brought to mind most for me. However, the last 15mins or so of that wonderful film were a bit hard to swallow. Ditto Sunshine, Event Horizon, The Core (yes, I know, I'm probably the only person who liked that film!) all films that start well and end with a bit of a limp.

Interstellar is the latest from Christopher Nolan, so expectations were high. McConaughey plays Cooper, a former NASA pilot turned farmer in a future where the Earth needs farmers more than astronauts! Precocious daughter Murphy picks up odd binary signals that lead them to a hidden NASA bunker where Michael Caine and Anne Hathaway are planning how jetting off through a wormhole near Saturn will save the Earth. 'Help us Cooper, you're our only hope...'
From here we follow the space trip and periodically pop back to the team on Earth including grown up Murphy (Jessica Chastain.)

While Interstellar has lots of space thrills, and is ambitious in scale, it stumbles on believability even earlier than those other space movies and its silly bits are even sillier! McConaughey's Texan drawl is hard to decipher at times and this unabashedly American take, that parallels Earth's plight with the dust bowl famine and mentions NOWHERE else on Earth being in trouble. Indeed, apart from Caine's usual cockney accent it's an all-US story throughout - NASA, baseball, cornfields etc. Odd from Brit director/ writers Chris and Jonathan Nolan

For such a long film (almost 3 hours) the characters are surprisingly poorly drawn. Hathaway and Chastain are very one notes, Caine is avuncular if a bit untrustworthy. McConaughey doesn't really get to be charming at all - his strongest suit - and his action hero past (Sahara anyone??) isn't notable. He is onscreen almost all of the time and the film rests firmly on his shoulders so if you are a big fan, that is a help! For myself, I can take or leave him - as I can Nolan. I was never a huge fan of the Batman films, although I did love Memento and Inception.
This film is totally in my wheelhouse and as I said, most space sci-fi action adventure films have flaws of varying depth. There is a lot to like about Interstellar, but it has character and plot problems (the final 15 mins are just ridiculous) and it will be interesting to see how it holds up without the spectacle of the big screen. (EDITED to add, I watched on TV, and it was even less believable! I'd probably take off a mark as the poor plotting really shows. Apparently scientists worked closely with them but that end part where we get time travel is just daft. He spends the whole film trying to see his daughter again and then when they are reunited it is a 5 minute chat and he's off. There are so many flaws!
Best performance by an actor: Young Mackenzie Foy as 10 year old Murphy. She is excellent! 6/10

November 2014.

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