Space films seem to be taking a different direction as of late. What we’re getting is less Star Trek than it is 2001: A Space Odyssey, which is a film not merely about our future (or, the future as seen in 1968) but about our near, attainable future, a future so close it feels almost familiar to us. This is the world Interstellar occupies. Nothing in the film has happened yet, but it does not feel that far away.
I’ve pondered and mulled over this movie ever since seeing it. I can safely say that it’s a very good film – well made, original, engaging – but something about it isn’t sitting right with me. There were too many little problems, too many flaws that just kept nagging at my brain whenever I replayed as much of the three hours of film as I could remember in my head. I’ve swung back and forth on it – I like it, I don’t like it, I like it – and while I have reached the conclusion that I do indeed like it, I’m not sure I want to see it again any time soon.
One thing’s for sure – I didn’t love it. There was never a moment when I watched it that made me think about anything differently or that conjured that movie magic for me. Which is entirely me, of course – I know dozens of people that said this film was the most amazing thing they’ve seen in a while. But not me.
Here’s the thing about Interstellar that few have brought up – it’s sad. Like, really, really sad. This is not a triumphant film about people who conquer space to find a new home, it’s a film about a group of characters – really good, engaging characters, I might add – that suffer hardship after hardship, loss after loss, misfortune after misfortune. Most of the time, they’re miserable, and rightfully so, but it was hard to feel happy or elated watching this film with all the heavy emotional weight. And when you’re sitting there for three hours…
But like I said, I’ve been on sort of a seesaw when it comes to how I feel about this film. One moment I’m “eh” and another moment I’m “that was awesome!” A perfect scene to describe this feeling is the part where they go to the first planet. In my view, there was really nothing that made the first planet the best to travel to first – it was so close to a black hole, so the dangers traveling to it and the possibility of getting swallowed by the black hole itself made it a risky option, even without considering the dangers they found on the surface. The whole sequence cut out of the film would not, I think, have affected the film too much. However, on the other hand, there’s some real function to that scene because while I think their reasons for going to that one first were flimsy at best, one of my favorite parts of the film was watching those giant, kick-ass waves. The special effects junkie in me was practically salivating with delight (it looked amazing on the big screen, by the way).
I think the film’s greatest strength, though, is its characters. These are good, developed characters. They are not clichéd action heroes, they are real people with problems and motivations and complexities. A great majority of the film focuses on the relationships these people have with one another, and at the very core of the story is the bond between Cooper and his daughter, Murphy. That is the essence of good storytelling – to place what happens to a character and the decisions that character makes into a complex internal conflict. There are moments in the film where the mere absence of something can have just as much impact as someone acknowledging that it isn’t there. That was very well done.
So while I don’t think it’s the best movie I’ve ever seen, and I do have problems with it, I’d say Interstellar is a good, meaningful film and any science-fiction fan will probably enjoy it. The film didn’t really affect me all that much, but I did enjoy seeing it – although it was very, very long (bring a pillow for your butt). This one’s worth the watch.
Gravity Falls Intro and Pilot Talks – Monday, January 26
The X-Files Season 4, Episode 3 “Teliko” Review – Monday, February 2