Friday, 7 November 2014

Interstellar film review (Rant) – Spoilers present, please be aware before reading...

If you want the short version without spoilers, here, I can save you reading further, it was terrible, I hated it, I seriously thought about walking out...

Everyone who doesn’t mind spoilers, read on...

I’ve been looking forwards to seeing Interstellar since I saw the first trailers about a year back, for a number of reasons.  The first of which was the whole premise of having to go beyond the limits of our world and our own lifespans, to explore far beyond what we’ve ever managed to before.

Then there was the director, Christopher Nolan, a man who hasn’t really turned in a bad film since he started, and was the lead man on many of the films I’ve enjoyed over the last few years.  Then there was the cast, not a bad actor or ham amongst them and all of them at the top of their game.

All in all it looked like a film that couldn’t fail...

The premise is that some form of blight has come upon the world, and all the crops are dying out, the history books have been re-written to show that the moon landings were faked to try and fool the Russians into spending more money, rather than the truth of what happened and the whole world has turned it’s gaze inwards to try and keep us all alive a little longer rather than turning our gaze outwards at the possibility of doing something on a planet other than this one. 

From a social engineering point of view, all of the effort directed towards getting people to start farming rather than aiming their sights any higher and wanting to learn things like science or mechanics made perfect sense and set up a strong image for the beginning of the film.  Through a series of events that could only be described as supernatural, Cooper (Matthew McConnaghey) and his daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy in the first of what will surely be many roles) are drawn to the remains of Norad, where NASA are still working towards sending people into space. Dr Brand (Michael Caine), Cooper’s old boss, is heading up the task force towards sending people out to find new planets to live on via a wormhole that has been found some years ago out in the orbit of Saturn.

Slight suspension of disbelief required at that point, convenient wormhole found at the right time, but okay, we can go with that. 

So onwards with the mission, kids left behind while the heroes go off into space with two different plans, the first to find a habitable planet to move the rest of the human race on to, and the second to take a whole colony of people along to the new planet to establish a new race out amongst the stars.

A little like Titan A.E.?

Yeah, very much so, but they got through the wormhole and found that the first planet was a little closer to a massive black hole than they thought it had been, to the point at which gravitic distortions would cause every hour on the planet to be seven years out beyond the effects of the gravity.

It was at this point that disbelief needed gravity of its own to remain in the air...

I’m not a scientist, and there may be people out there who can tell me this is all accurate, but gravity needs to be strong to affect the pull of time, and immensely strong to affect time in any meaningful sense beyond seconds (as has been seen from flights around the earth), so here’s this immense world next to an immense black hole, that they land on and suddenly every minute is more than a month in real time. But despite this immense gravity, they can still walk around on this planet, that has immense waves every few hours that literally scour the world clean of everything but the water but still leave it shallow enough to walk on between waves...

So they get off the planet and 23 years have elapsed in real time while they were repairing their ship on the ground and the method they use to repair the ship could have been done less than a minute after they landed with equal amounts of success.

Then we get back up to the main ship and find that the kids have got older and bitter and because they were down there that long, the ships fuel supplies have been running out steadily and there’s not enough fuel left to reach the other points.

If the Mission Impossible soundtrack had started up at this point, I wouldn’t have been surprised...

So they go to the next planet and find that the astronaut who’d landed ahead of them (an uncredited Matt Damon), has actually gone nutbar and just wants to go home, to the point that he’s willing to doom the whole human race to do it.  Between that and the revelation from earth that plan A was never going to succeed because the variables weren’t right and Dr Brand had known about that when he sent Cooper into space, I’d lost all faith with humanity as presented, we’re either myopic luddites who just want to grow crops till the world ends, or we’re self serving psychotics or liars...

Remind me again why we’re supposed to be rooting for ourselves...?

So Cooper plans a black hole slingshot move (I’ve seen star trek, the enterprise does that with no problems, but where’s the enterprise when you need it) and in the process, ends up in the black hole.

And that’s when it got really weird...

Remember those supernatural things that occurred at the beginning of the film?  Turns out those were Cooper himself after he falls into fifth dimensional space and starts being able to travel between time and space to send messages by moving books and altering gravity to send messages to his daughter still on earth...

At this point I’ve lost the will to argue, particularly when he finishes sending “Equations too complex to be sent” via Morse code down the seconds hand of a watch that he left for his daughter.  This of course is all leading up to the point where Cooper is reunited with (now very old and close to death) Murph so he can fulfil his promise to her, made over eighty of her years ago...

This for me was the greatest problem in the film, and as you’ll note from everything so far, I’ve had a few with this one.  Here they are, reunited after what’s been eighty years for her and effectively less than a fortnight of awake time for him, and this is his daughter, who meant everything to him, and they speak maybe ten sentences before she tells him that she doesn’t want him to see her die, so he needs to go off and find a life for himself, ideally with Anne Hathaways character who’s still out there in the new galaxy.

And he does...

WTF!!!!!

I’ve only got one kid, he’s been with me his whole life, and while there’s the theory that it’d be difficult to reconcile the idea of the ten year old you left behind with the octogenarian that’s laying in the bed, both actors played it like it was the most emotional thing that they’d ever had to go through, and from that perspective, Old Murph has had 80 years of abandonment to finally tell her dad where to go, but he’s been gone two weeks...

I don’t like walking out of films, in truth, I’ve never done it, I believe that if you’ve paid the money, then you should stay to the end, if only to get your moneys worth.  But in three or four places, when they were playing for the cheap emotional punches and Hans Zimmer was punching the music in at ten times the volume required, I really did think about it...

So, while it may be a fine film for some, not for this man.  Certainly not as a parent and absolutely not as a man who likes films that are well put together and don’t have multiple deus ex machine moments within them.  Overhyped, overloud (in places it was like standing next to a rock concert speaker), and overcooked, I never thought I’d say that about any film that Christopher Nolan made, but those are three hours of my life that I’m not going to get back and in the time it took to get to the terrible ending, I could have seen any two of my favourite films twice...

My honest opinion, he’s done better than this before and I’m sure he will again, the visuals are stunning, but I believe that in time, people will remember this in the way they do Avatar now, phenomenal in scale, but lacking in the very thing that it was supposed to be all about...

Heart...


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