Movie Review: Interstellar

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Interstellar is one of those movies where I could probably spend five minutes explaining the plot to you, because I understood basically what was going on, but the thought of actually typing it all out makes me not want to write this review.  Just go see the movie.  There’s parts of it that you probably won’t understand completely, but Christopher Nolan has done a good job of making it intelligent enough for smart people to appreciate, but dumb enough for dopes like me feel smart for being able to follow along.  He’s such a nice man for doing that.

However, maybe because of a low attention span developed over a lifetime of drinking highly concentrated sugar water, or simply out of the pre-arranged anticipation of knowing I was going to get my mind blown once they got to outer space; the first act of the movie almost, *almost* felt like a chore for me to get through.  It was a flagrant case of me mind-shouting one of my favorite go-to Simpsons quotes: “When are they going to get to the fireworks factory…?!”  But you see, it’s not that I wasn’t enjoying the first act so much as I was just waiting for the second act to start.  There were plenty of good scenes in the first 45 minutes, in retrospect, and while I may or may not have been impatient (I was), it was all stuff that made the entire experience more enjoyable when I thought of it as a giant delicious spiced nebula pie, and not just as the tiny slices I was eating over three hours.  Without the front chunk of the movie, there wouldn’t be a workable back chunk, probably more so in Interstellar’s case than most other movies.  I will say however, I did like how once McConaughey decided to fly the spaceship, they just showed him saying goodbye to his family and layered the audio to when they were launching the ship in the very next scene.  In a movie with perhaps not a lot of restraint in the editing department, I could have definitely seen them try to cram four more minutes of shots of him contemplatively putting on his space suit in the NASA locker room, or five minutes of people checking all the equipment before take off or something.  I appreciate that once it decided to get to finally get to the fireworks factory, it just cut immediately to the shit exploding everywhere.

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The performances were good.  Nobody brought the show down any notches or anything, though Topher Grace was a bit jarring of a casting choice.  I don’t think I have the brain functionality to take that guy seriously.  I actually probably liked the robot more than a lot of the living side characters.  Good robo design that I hadn’t seen before, AND it had a sassy ‘tude.  Sarcastic robots are the best robots.  I’ve kind of been on a McConaughey high the last couple of years, so I dug what he was doing here too.  Maybe I wished for more of a “Rust Cohle in space” scenario, but when I think about it, basically the entire movie was a Rust Cohle rant.  Christopher Nolan is kind of the Rust Cohle of directors.  Always spurting out these insane, complex philosophical ideas in the most entertaining way possible.  Have you ever seen that picture of the piece of paper where Nolan sketched out all the timelines for Inception?  It looks like a psychopath drew that.  I mean, sometimes I have no idea what he’s talking about, but I’m just staring at him wide-eyed and listening to what he’s saying as if my life depended on it.  And it only makes it more interesting when he keeps carving those little figurines out of the beer cans he just finished.

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As far as the science goes, I didn’t really have a problem with it.  For one, it’s a movie, so I don’t expect it to be textbook friendly to begin with.  Also, it’s a movie about something no one *really* knows about for sure, so it’s pretty much just Nolan’s best guess at what would happen if we drove to Saturn and cruised through a wormhole.  I’m sure there was some scientific backing from a researcher, or Nolan did his own research, but it’s largely just a fantastical assumption for the benefit of the film.  By the way, those giant warping space hallucinations, that I’m sure were freaking out the two college dudes in the back row who wanted to take mushrooms before the movie, were absolutely gorgeous and mesmerizing to look at.  I wish the movie has 200% more of them.  Now, is that what actually happens in a wormhole?  Who cares?  It looked cool, and this is just a blockbuster adventure film starring the guy from Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.  McConaughey starred in that rom com just *five* years ago.  Think about that…!  The relativity of time and projects chosen by The McCons over a five-year span is a better scientific study than anything discussed in Interstellar.

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So I didn’t really mind all of the wormhole/blackhole/hydro-blaster/hyperdrive/whatever talk in the film.  It kind of needs to be there to make the dialogue believable.  But I mean, it’s just a bunch of big words in a Hollywood screenplay.  To me, it’s finely crafted nonsense.  But as long as it’s finely crafted, I don’t really care that it may or may not be nonsense.  My number one requirement is to be entertained, but if I can be enlightened too, all the better.  I think Interstellar was a nice mix of the two.  Yet, for everything that sounded deeply philosophical, there was always that annoying cheesy theory that *love* is a quantifiable element for human survival.  Nice try, Nolan.  I didn’t quite jump on board that one.  But as far as having a super detailed agenda to make this very impressive science film, I give the guy all the credit in the world for being able to visualize it in *any* way.  If you told me to visualize the relationship between gravity and time relativity, and let me have a year to figure it out, I probably wouldn’t have come up with something half as good at what Nolan was able to do in this movie.  And then all the Elmer’s glue would stop supporting the weight of the rocks on top of the toothpicks in my diorama, and the judges would laugh me off the stage.  Oh god, has my fly been down this whole presentation?!  I’m humiliated!

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I kind of have some regrets about being lazy and not wanting to drive an hour to Navy Pier and see it in 70mm, and just opting to drive to the much closer regular IMAX.  Because 70mm is the optimal way Interstellar was supposed to be seen, coupled with the fact that I kinda don’t really have a burning desire to watch Interstellar again in theaters, so I wish I had made my one Interstellar theater experience the best possible one.  In a perfect scenario, I would have liked Interstellar so much that I’d want to see it again, and then I’d go to Navy Pier on a Tuesday and have my mind blown again in 70mm.  But that’s not really the case.  Once is enough for now, and then I’ll watch it again for two weeks straight in the background once HBO starts to spam it at the end of next year.  I just didn’t love it.  It’s ambitious as hell of a concept, it’s very pretty to look at, but it didn’t feel like something that had enough moments that gave me chills or anything.  I don’t want to deter anyone from the grandiose spectacle that was this movie, which despite anything I’ve said here I actually enjoyed quite a bit; but maybe I just like my modern space adventure movies to be more concise, fun, and possibly have a talking raccoon.  But to each his own.  [goes back to watching Ren & Stimpy episodes on Youtube]

8.5 out of 10

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