Interstellar – Film Review

A review should be your own take on a film — your subjective opinion. Unfortunately, I went into Interstellar expecting the next Prometheus or Gravity. The reviews under RottenTomatoes 74% consensus describe another preposterous sci-fi film with big ideas that handles them in sloppy ways. I was ready to see characters making nonsensical, frustrating decisions in the style of Prometheus. I figured the adherence to the rules of space travel would start and stop with the needs of the plot, just as Gravity handled it.

What I’d hoped for was another Christopher Nolan joint. Nolan’s filmmaking has an undeniable energy to it that I can’t shake. He’s one of the few directors capable of creating artful, powerful, meaningful action sequences. He creates riveting plots where you can hear every cylinder pumping away at once as gears turn and each piece falls together in perfect harmony. He may have a logic gap here, an odd character choice there, but generally his films display a mastery of the Hollywood blockbuster.

Interstellar is no different, and I’m frankly at a loss for the response its getting. Everyone is entitled to their informed opinions, and when those opinions are about the tone of the third act twists, or the awkward handling of certain plot details and characters, I get it. I didn’t see it, and I find it a bit odd considering this is easily Nolan’s most emotional and character-driven film yet. But if you saw a character doing something that felt incongruous, I’m not going to hold it against you.

Where I start to get angry is when critics call the movie preposterous. There are critics out there who, because their imaginations are too limited, blame Nolan and his team (including theoretical physicist Kip Thorne) for reaching too far. Interstellar doesn’t ask audiences to hang their thinking caps at the door. In fact, the vast majority of the science is sound (with an apparent thumbs up from Neil deGrasse Tyson to boot), up to and including the theoretical science where most Hollywood films drop all pretense and start having a field day.

It isn’t until the film goes beyond the theoretical and dares to imagine extra dimensions that it starts taking liberties, and at that point it has every right to go hogwild. Interstellar thinks big, dreams far, and dares to venture out into the unfamiliar while retaining the things that make us human. It uses time dilation to tell a powerfully emotional, family story. One reviewer implied that time dilation is something we’ve seen again and again in sci-fi, and if that’s the case it’s certainly never been handled like this.

Perhaps more importantly, it has some navel-gazing, critical things to say about humanity’s priorities. It’s a film that’s rightfully pessimistic about our view and fear of the stars. We need more films that ignite the imagination and inspire a push for space travel over earthly matters. At one point Michael Caine’s character brags about how much metal his projects have taken away from the manufacture of bullets — if only that were a political platform I could vote on.

You can come away from Interstellar disappointed and I wouldn’t blame you. Perhaps the story wrapped up too neatly, maybe the emotional heart of it was too precious for you. I’ll admit, Interstellar takes chances that wouldn’t have sat well with me if handled only slightly differently. Something about Nolan’s work always elevates it beyond critique for me, in those ways at least.

But if you walked out of Interstellar flabbergasted by the science, appalled by its fifth dimensional ending, then I have some news for you — you’re boring. You are simple-minded, unimaginative, and you’re probably part of the problem. Not Nolan’s problem, or Hollywood’s problem, but humanity’s problem. Go back to fighting your wars and engaging in endless selfish debates, the rest of us will keep looking up to the stars and dreaming.

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