Tuesday, November 18, 2014

[MOVIEHOUSE MADNESS]: Interstellar (2014)

It's rare for me to be so confused after watching a film. Confused, not because of the plot, but because I was trying to gauge my feelings towards it. Did I love it? Did I hate the spine of the story? From standing up from my seat, to peeing, to walking out of the movie house, down the escalator, and to the parking lot, I was thinking. My mind was like in a jumbled time-space continuum, struggling, wondering, puzzling over the movie I just saw. Even on the way home, I was mostly silent, well, at a loss for words is more appropriate - which is unusual for me. Any other movie I would have been gushing or ranting.

What got me so confused is that for a highly anticipated movie, Interstellar made me feel overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the same time.

Directed by:  Christopher Nolan
Written by:  Jonathan & Christopher Nolan
Music by:  Hans Zimmer
Cinematography by:  Hoyte van Hoytema
Edited by:  Lee Smith
Running time:  169 mins
Budget:  $165 million
Box Office:  over $322 million

I was expecting more, visually-speaking. I wanted to be awestruck like I have been when I've seen 2001: A Space Odyssey and I wanted to get lost in space (well, not literally) as I have felt watching Gravity on IMAX format. Interstellar has its own beauty, don't get me wrong. It's grandiose & somber, and it succeeds in making you feel the vastness of the cosmos by showing us what a tiny speck we are in the universe. The homage to 2001 is really obvious but it's not a bad thing, I mean all Jedi should pay his respects to Yoda, don't they? And I really enjoyed seeing bits and pieces of Kubrick's classic in this movie. It was both nostalgic and fun. I was half-hoping to see a floating pen somewhere in there. lol. But as I've said, while the photography was good, I didn't feel the same awe I felt with the other films I've mentioned. The ambition to make something greater than 2001 was obvious, but for me, it fell short.

Human drama... in space. That's what Interstellar really is about. Yes it dabbled in space-time continuum and all that 4th/5th dimension thingie, and that excited me - to not just read about it in books but to see it executed in films. While the plot as a whole has all the necessary "feels" especially since Hans Zimmer properly set the mood with his striking, but sometimes too overwhelming score, it's not entirely faultless. At times, the drama borders on cliches that it distracts me from being amazed by the ideas this movie presented. Anne Hathaway telling us something about LOVE is both cheesy and thought-provoking (if you believe in the infinite possibilities of fringe science and all that). (SPOILERS) Matthew McConaughey floating inside the black hole, his eyes opening to the other dimensions, discovering the Inception-like fabrics of time, meddling with the past/future (occuring at the same time, in a different plane) while watching his daughter from "the other side", finally "penetrating" and succeeding in communicating, thus saving the world - with the help of a watch. Yeah. Love, it transcends everything, apparently.  Matt Damon didn't really need to be there. His story arc was too melodramatic, in my opinion. I know, I know, they wanted to show just how human we can be, no matter where we are. Survival instinct, I get it. But as I've said, Matt Damon shouldn't have been there. But McConaughey makes everything worth it. He's simply awesome in here. And the Cullens' scary-looking baby has grown and she has outshone Jessica Chastain & Anne Hathaway.

Interstellar planted more questions in my mind than enlightenment - no, not about the science. For an almost-three-hour long movie, they should have had ample time to seamlessly piece together a coherent plot with real character development. Instead, some scenes only felt like fillers, and others were just big on showcasing sentimentality, all fluff. They have had almost 3 hours, and still Nolan and his team chose to settle on a cliched plot with sometimes-amazing-but-mostly-disappointing visual effects. Gargantua and those docking scenes were amazing though.

Interstellar is an ambitious film, or at least it tried to be. It's not as great as the other SF films that made their well-deserved mark in cinematic history, but it was good enough for me, all in all. It's not perfect, and some concepts/scenes may seem outlandish to some. But for me, I'd rather believe that we haven't even scratched the surface of the mysteries of the universe. That science is just a baby. The possibilities are infinite. I'd rather not close my mind to other theories. That's what this film made me feel. That while at times feeling clunky, shifting from the human drama to space talks, what's consistent is the feeling of being lost somewhere - in space, on earth, I don't know. Nolan is great at that, the manipulation of man's sense of isolation. It's reminiscent of Solaris (both films), the mood.

And as I've said, I like this film. It left a somber mood in my soul, the larger than life IMAX experience brought me to another dimension, and from the screen to my soul I felt something transcend, and doused me with some feeling I can't pinpoint. However shaky the screenplay was, the movie wasn't bad. It wasn't an epic fail. I like it. The sad thing about this - all the efforts of serving us with thought-provoking ideas & great images of space & blackholes & wormholes, the cool docking scenes that could have made Interstellar great despite its flaws - it could have been awesome if it was released a few years back. Before Gravity. That what Nolan tried doing this year, Cuaron already did a year ago and much better, that everything about Interstellar seems second-rate (talking about the use of visual effects/technology), its uneven character development and plot becomes glaring, that despite the immense effort, it simply just pales in comparison to its predecessors. What separates Interstellar, unlike Gravity which was focused mainly on giving us a feel of space more than the plot and 2001 which was in a whole 'nother level of mindf*ck in space, is the human drama (Matthew's relationship with his daughter specifically) and with that angle Nolan made it work. Is it fair to compare it with other space films? Maybe not. On its own, it probably is one of the most curious film experiences I've had this year, but as a film buff, one can't help not to compare it with the Yoda & Obi-Wan of space-drama movies.

Who knows? Maybe twenty, thirty years later, Interstellar will be as big as 2001: A Space Odyssey. If love can transcend dimensions, anything is possible.

My Rating:  3.5/5 

You know what's really funny? They have all this space exploration technology, they even have these awkward-looking but kick-ass robots, and yet, ladies and gentlemen, Professor Brand still uses manual wheelchair. Ain't that cute?

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  1. in my opinion, this movie is very good, i give 4.5 of 5... it describes the drama how human struggle to survive for their own species.... others reasons are the music and the visual so amazing...

    1. I was torn between giving it a 4 or 3.5 but I settled with the latter, mainly bec of the sometimes forced plot angles and such. I did love the human drama in it, it's what makes it different than Gravity. Zimmer's music is also notable, but sometimes it's too overwhelming that you can't understand some words spoken. The visual is good, but sometimes it looked too artificial, like im watching a science educational show..

      all in all, it's a great experience for me! =D

  2. Loved Zimmer's musical score. One of his best.

  3. Thanks for sharing the Interstellar movie reviews here. This movie is one of my favorite movies and even Anne Hathaway is my favorite actress. Her acting is brilliant in this movie. Can you send some more movies with anne hathaway?



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