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review: Interstellar (2014)

9.5 / 10

Where do I begin? How do I do this justice??

I don't think I've ever written a review on a Nolan film, in spite of how much I adore them (because it's so much easier to talk shit about things I don't care about). So, here's the first.

What I like most about Interstellar is a little different from the other Nolan movies and my experience with them. For movies like Memento, the Prestige, and Inception (and maybe you could also throw in the Dark Knight, in some respects), it's the plot or story concept that really stands out as being enthralling and creative/inspiring. That's not to say Interstellar didn't have those elements -- because it did -- but what had even more impact was the human drama. I didn't expect to get so invested in the characters, or be moved by the relationship between Coop and Murph. A big part of that is credited to the stellar (hah) performance by McConaughey, but more on that later.*

There are some utterly amazing scenes in this film, and not just in terms of visual effects. And where they were visually spectacular, they were also visionary or provoking, such as the speculative science fiction of wormholes, black holes, and mountainous tidal waves. I especially liked the tension in the iconic docking scene. The atmosphere, in general, was immersive and blended well with the score -- some complain that the music was too loud, but I didn't have a problem with it. (As a side note, I have loved every single soundtrack from the Zimmer/Nolan collaborations.) However, the best scenes were the emotive ones: [Spoiler (click to open)]Coop leaving his family, Coop watching the video logs of the decades he missed in his children's lives, Coop's struggle in the tesseract. There was even a decent degree of humour, mostly from TARS the robot assistant. When he (it, technically) was first introduced, I thought he had such a clunky, impractical design -- but he transforms! And his design is actually ingenious!

The story itself is solid, if not complex or groundbreaking. You can spot a few instances where the influence of earlier sci-fi movies may have left their mark: [Spoiler (click to open)]the rudimentary explanation of how wormholes work a la Event Horizon, the rescued astronaut turned insane like in Sunshine. I also think the cylindrical model of Cooper Station at the end was Nolan not quite letting go of Inception...

As a sci-fi journey, Interstellar is epic and thrilling and imaginative. It raises questions on human survival and evolution, and whether we'll ever understand the mysteries of the universe in our limited time. As a human story, at its core, it is beautiful and bittersweet. While not 100% perfect in its execution (and hence the 9.5), it leaves a lasting impression.

Bottom line: Just watch it.

* on Matthew McConaughey:

I used to hate Matthew McConaughey. Seemingly talentless, smug-faced hack who only ever did shitty movies, right? I was aware the McConaissance was happening in recent years and I'd seen a couple of his minor roles like in the Wolf of Wall Street, but still wasn't convinced. And then I watched True Detective. Holy fuck.

In around June this year, wanting to fill the void of having finished firstly Breaking Bad (my one true TV love) and then the Wire (my one true ghetto TV love), I was recommended True Detective. The story looked promising. I like Woody Harrelson. I thought, I can tolerate McConaughey if the show is really that good, and so I started it, and then it was around the middle of the 2nd episode when I realised I was now a convert. He is amazing in True Detective. AMAZING. I forgot that he was McConaughey and only saw Rust Cohle in that show.


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this is not an exit

There is an idea of a carnageincminor; some kind of an abstraction. But there is no real me: only an entity, something illusory.

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