I’ve been anticipating Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar since it was announced. The premise is an idea that’s close to my heart: humanity must leave Earth if we’re to persevere as a species. I enjoyed the movie. It was moving and dramatic. It fell just short of the movie I was hoping it would be, though.
Nolan’s newest epic unfortunately falls into a few commonplace tropes. It fails the Bechdel test for both gender and ethnicity, and it very easily could have passed it on both counts. It also plays to the white, male savior complex. For an apocalyptic story, it’s also inexplicably American-centric. None of these weaknesses are forgivable, nor should they be ignored. They’re just so prevalent among big-budget, big-studio movies, that it’s not surprising. It’s just disappointing.
The movie also introduces some complications that seem unnecessary and that cause there to be a few irritatingly unresolved questions by the end. It seems a little bit lazy, from a story-telling perspective. For a movie that really does seem to take science seriously, it gets a little fantastical in places. It’s never severe enough to completely detach it from the near-future reality, but it is a bit jarring next to the real science Nolan was careful to not only preserve, but emphasize.
Other than those very real issues, though, the movie was an enjoyable, gripping affair. The space travel started from a place of real science, taking relativity seriously and even explaining it to the audience without ever resorting to a physics lecture. Much of the drama and tension, in fact, stemmed from dealing with what it means to travel great distances at great speeds: time dilation. I really enjoyed the very realistic advancement of technology, that seemed quite logically connected to our current trends.
Nolan took the science so seriously, he even brought a physicist on to aid the designers in creating an accurate representation of the space elements. Together with the computer modeling team, they actually made a breakthrough in astrophysics modeling.
As the movie wore on, it became clear that Nolan was paying homage to Kubrick’s 2001. This was all Nolan’s own, though. He simply tipped his hat to some of the themes and plot similarities of Kubick’s take on humanity taking to deep space.
From a technical standpoint, then, Interstellar was fantastic. The acting was hypnotic. The cinematography and sound design were distinctive but immersing. This made the drama visceral and gripping.
I’m debating seeing the movie again while it is in theaters. I’ll likely buy it on DVD, especially as I anticipate some fantastic special features. I really did enjoy Interstellar. It’s unfortunate that it suffers from the weaknesses it does. It is an otherwise phenomenal film.