Interstellar, with all its attempts to associate itself with Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and other psychotropic science fiction, such as that of Andrei Tarkovsky, never gets off the ground intellectually.
It never wonders about wonder. Take all your dreams and questions and throw them in the black hole of dramatic convenience.
While Christopher Nolan’s film has moments of grand spectacle and cosmic chaos, there are no questions asked and none answered. It is an assembly of mysteries which no one mulls. There may be a ghost in Interstellar; there may be beings who subvert gravity; there is indeed travel through wormholes and black holes and warpings of time and physics (and, brutally, logic) but of these wondrous occurrences, none of the characters raises much of a question.
We get the odd wry smile, as if to say, “Wow. This sure is weird.” We get weirdness’ tangible effects, which produce tears or which might be soothed with a hug, but we don’t get a sense of the mysterious. We only get a plodding mystery which, quizzically, ends up being it’s own solution.
And then Jessica Chastain scribbles on a white board and bustles down a hallway and the unsolvable problem is behind us with all the joy and pathos of a commercial for Rug Discounters.
On an Earth facing human extinction, Matthew McConaughey’s retired pilot Cooper experiences odd anomalies. He leaves his precious daughter, Murphy, to get sucked without second-thought into a mission of impossible risk, about which he knows next to nothing, and from which only a complete moron would expect to return. There are shenanigans in space. Three hours later, Jonathan Nolan’s script has wrapped everything up neatly.
Under the wrapping, though, it’s all still a complete mess. It’s a box of loose hardware and cream cheese tied up with a bow. Happy holidays!
How old is Anne Hathaway’s Dr. Brandt now? Didn’t Cooper have a son? Did I have a chicken first, or was it an egg?
Sometimes, Nolan’s imagery is intense, such as when he shows us a light-crossed black hole. Frequently, it’s derivative, or confined to McConaughey in a space helmet pulling faces. Even more often Hans Zimmer’s score is preposterous and deafening to the point that it runs stampede style over dialogue and will to live. But never does anyone stop to think about how every fifteen minutes they’re doing or seeing something which should by all rights change the course of human civilization as we know it.
Ladies and gentlemen; you are among the first humans to ever set foot on a foreign celestial body! How about that?
No really: how about that? Anyone? A feeling, perhaps? Would you like share?
Anyone want to buy a monolith of unknown provenance, then? Think about it. It’s forty-five years old, but it’s still so full of wonder that you could fall into it and never return. Or if you returned, you would be something else entirely. Not just the same pilot who can think of nothing more important than drinking a beer on the porch or chucking your daughter on the chin.
Yes, Interstellar is one of those films that saves the world with love. And the only thing I care for less is people who eat hot dogs next to me in movie theaters.
The film isn’t ghastly. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t even not enjoy it. I just feel that it has flattened me out with its excessive centrifugal force. It has prematurely aged me, through the power of special cinematic relativity. It has compressed my interest into a singularity and hidden it behind the bookcase.
I could spend all day picking apart the plot of Interstellar, but it’s not worth it.
Not having any answers is completely excusable when dealing with the cosmic and infinite. Not having any questions isn’t.