Interstellar is a movie that feels a whole lot like the 2001 Space Odyssey. It’s going for that super drawn out feel where you have a lot of nice visuals to look at but you can go a while without actually having any plot developments. I thought it had an interesting start but really started fading from there. Chop off about an hour or so and I think you’re looking at a better movie but either way I would say to give this one a skip. It’s just not going to be the winning sci-fi film for you.
The movie takes place in the future where things are rather dire now. There isn’t a whole lot of food left and so farmers are super important. Cooper works as a farmer but he was hoping for something better for his kids. Unfortunately the school seems to be rigging it so the family will all have to be farmers. Cooper isn’t thrilled about that and then one day he and his daughter Murph end up wandering onto a super secret government base. The officials explain that they are looking into two plans to save humanity since the plants are eventually going to die and the planet is nearly done for.
One plan is to find a suitable planet and have some people land there and repopulate the planet. The other one is to make use of mysterious wormholes that have appeared recently which can be used to get most of humanity across. Both options will be difficult but Cooper agrees to help since it is the only way that his family will be okay. He gets on the ship and prepares for a voyage the likes of which he has never seen before. Unfortunately for him it’ll be a much more difficult voyage than he ever could have guessed.
Now here are the good parts of the film. For starters I like space and the whole sci-fi angle of taking place in the future is fun. I enjoyed the first act as we see what the planet is like and how the heroes bust into the base and start thinking about the future. At this point it felt like this was still going to be a very solid, traditional sci-fi film. I can tell you that I was fairly excited at all of this.
I would say the cracks first began to show once they made it to the first planet. So it turns out that time is different here so one hour is a whole day and it only gets more drastic the further you get. So one of the dilemmas here is that Cooper could end up throwing his life away pretty much by going to these planets. There won’t be much to save if he ends up taking too long. It’s a high intensity situation so you don’t want to blame anyone per say but one character hesitates quite a bit and she ends up putting the others in danger. If you miss your evacuation point then you’re really sunk since that puts you off by a few days in real time and that’s much longer with how the time portal is working. So that was definitely tragic.
The film definitely goes for a very emotional vibe here as the years tick by and Cooper starts listening to recordings from the kids. The recordings are still able to go through but in a way he sacrificed anything including the chance to be with his children. They just had to go on without him and that fuels some resentment on their side. It’s rare to see a plan just completely fail on the hero’s side like this but sure enough, Connor just had to live with the regret of al this. I think if he could have changed it so he never left then he absolutely would have. In a way he tried to do just that by warning Murph in the past but that didn’t really work so well.
Time basically works in a loop of sorts here so you can sort of see the past and interact a bit but you can’t do much more than be a ghost. I thought there were a lot of very interesting ideas to see here and it does nail the sci-fi elements. Again, the only reason this film didn’t do better is because it’s so incredibly drawn out. The movie’s biggest failing is simply that it’s boring. There is 0 replay value here. You won’t be laughing or smiling as the film goes on and while the ideas are interesting, they’re not going to hold the film up for very long. You need good ideas and solid execution.
When Interstellar remembers that it’s an active movie then it gets more interesting again. For example I did enjoy one of the characters who shows up to add a little danger to the mix. It makes sense that being on your own could turn you a little batty and I thought that whole part was pretty interesting. That character may not have looked very good with how he cracked and all but it actually gave the film a sense of danger.
Then you also have a twist involving the old man’s plans which I thought was really solid. It definitely hits hard and makes the whole thing even more tragic. While the effects can be drawn out, I did think that the planets looked good. So there really is a lot to like here. The writing is good and the visuals are nice. I can’t say that I remember any of the tunes in particular but I feel like they were pretty decent tooo.
Cooper is a decent main character too. He’s taking all of these risks and going on this journey to protect his kids. It’s a great motivation and it’s clearly not something that he wanted to do otherwise. He does his best in every scene and so you do like the guy. He was a solid pick as the main character. The rest of the crew ranged from choking under pressure to being decent. The android was the best character though. I liked how he could talk very tough and at the end of the day he would come in handy. His strategy of being mostly honest also ended up being effective at several times in the film.
There’s not a whole lot more to say without talking myself into circles. I do think if you cut out about an hour of reaction shots and just looking off into the stars that this would be a pretty good movie. I dare say you could see a jump of 3 full stars otherwise. Because the story really isn’t bad and the characters are good. I liked the writing and there is a lot going on here. The twists land well so everything is in place except for it just being too drawn out and boring. You never want to get bored while watching a movie and so that’s a huge blemish against the experience. For example, I would never be tempted to watch this again and would actively avoid it. That’s why I can safely say this is not a good title.
Overall, Interstellar is one of the more tragic films because you can really see how it could have been good. In that respect it is still leagues ahead of 2001: A Space Odyssey because that film never had the same level of potential. That one was doomed from the start while this one was actually fairly close. Maybe a sequel would win but I get the feeling that the odds of this film even getting a sequel are slim to none. It just doesn’t feel like that kind of movie, but you never know I suppose.