Monday, November 10, 2014

SPOILER REVIEW: Interstellar

Now that I've given all of you plenty of time to go see the movie Interstellar, it's time to get more of my thoughts about the movie out on my blog. Because like I said in my spoiler-free review, there's a lot to talk about in this movie and most of it requires discussing plot points that would ruin the movie-going experience for you. That movie-going experience is one that I respect a lot, so I avoided most of the thoughts I had like the plague in that first review and decided to pretty much only talk about the acting, the visuals, and the sound. All of which were excellent. But there is a lot more to talk about here, so let's dive right in. But before we begin, I repeat. THE FOLLOWING REVIEW INCLUDES MAJOR SPOILERS. DO NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN INTERSTELLAR.

First of all, we have a few red flags that go up right as the movie begins. The first red flag is that we see Earth in a pretty depressing state without any explanation as to what happened to cause this. And of course the only solution is to travel to another far away galaxy to find a planet that is livable. Despite having no resources, apparently NASA has enough money to fund multiple trips to this faraway galaxy which includes building the spacecraft that can travel at these high speeds. No point in using that money to fix our problems on Earth? And no use trying to colonize Mars, one of the moons of Jupiter or Saturn, or another terrestrial object from our own solar system? And of course, the only available option in terms of a pilot to fly this ship is Matthew McConaughey's character, right? No use trying to find someone who doesn't have two young kids, right?  I mean, where would the conflict be? And it was really easy to convince McConaughey to leave his family, especially given the fact that his wife has passed away and he is the lone parent trying to raise two kids. Catching my vibe here? Immediately what we are told from the introduction of this movie is that this is completely unrealistic and implausible. We just needed an excuse to do a movie about interstellar travel. That means there is no use trying to figure out if the rest of the science works out, because Nolan and company probably didn't do much research. They just wanted to make a fun movie about space. Ok. Mildly disappointing considering how brilliant Nolan is, but I didn't mind that much. I'm actually pretty good at throwing realism out the door if it means watching an awesome movie. And this is a pretty awesome movie for most of it, so it sold me.

However, a bigger red flag in the beginning is that during a dust storm, McConaughey's daughter notices a message in her room that she determines has come from a ghost. She thinks this mysterious messenger has left a message in morse code. McConaughey "corrects" her by saying it has to be binary. McConaughey then interprets this as coordinates which conveniently leads him right to the secret NASA base where they try recruit him to fly their ship. Thus he feels he has been called to go on this mission by a mysterious group of individuals that he just refers to as "they." However, his daughter interprets this morse code message into the word "stay." She then tries to get her dad to stay, but he leaves. PAUSE. When this happened, my immediate thoughts were that the message was actually coming from McConaughey. He has gone on this mission and something has gone terribly wrong. But somehow he found a way to travel back in time to try to get himself to never go on the mission in the first place. Yes, I see a lot of movies. However, it may surprise you that I am not actually that good at predicting movies. I love it when a movie takes a few crazy twists and turns that make it so I don't see what is coming and that actually happens a lot. Nolan has done this to me on more than one occasion, so I fully expected him to do so here. I didn't think that this was going to be predictable. Something crazy was going to happen that was going to leave my mind blown, right? We'll come back to this point.

So now what happens is that McConaughey has been convinced by Michael Caine to go on this voyage with his daughter Anne Hathaway and a few other random individuals. They stop at Saturn after two years. Does it only take two years to get to Saturn? I don't know. Who cares. At this point we have thrown realism out the door. We're just on this epic journey through space and I'm enjoying it. We find a wormhole at Saturn that is supposed to shoot them to this other galaxy and one of our passengers attempts to explain the science behind everything. Is it accurate? Meh. Who cares. Let's just go through this wormhole! And we do! And it is successful in bringing us to our destination where there are three different planets that need to be explored. Our little team does there best job in trying to pick the right planet first because at this point they are travelling so fast that one hour of their time seven hours back on Earth and they can't waste any time. And since the movie is three hours long, you know that they are going to explore all three planets and that the last one they try is going to be the one they needed to go to in the first place. Ok, I'm fine with that. Space exploration! The more we explore, the cooler this movie is going to be! And I know some people have complained about the three hour running time and would prefer to cut out some of these stops, but that's one aspect that I had no complaints about. I don't mind three hour movies if the pacing is done right and in my opinion, the pacing here is just fine.

So first planet is the water planet. Nothing goes right here. The planet is one huge ocean as far as we can see. They start exploring a bit, but they need to save time and suddenly a huge wave is coming that kills one of their team members and almost destroys the ship. They escape, though, and head out. We are led to believe that this planet is unlivable and we just accept that despite not really exploring it at all. No time to explore. Now we're back in space and we have to make a decision. Based on previous data from the mission before, McConaughey thinks they should go to one planet. The explorer that landed is alive and said that this planet is great. But Hathaway thinks that they should go to the other one. The explorer said things were great, but now no one's heard from him, so he's presumed dead or missing. Why does Hathaway want to go there? Well, she was in love with guy that landed there. McConaughey essentially says that her feelings are getting in the way, so off to McConaughey's planet we go. PAUSE. Once again, I'm not the best at predicting things. But when this was happening, I had the feeling that Hathaway was right. Her planet was livable and something bad was about to happen on McConaughey's planet.

Ha! Of course I was right. This planet is the ice planet. But hey, up to this point I was still loving the movie, especially when it was revealed who was on the planet. MATT DAMON!!!! I've been following this movie for a long time, but I totally missed the part where Matt Damon was supposed to be in this movie. That man is definitely one of my favorite actors and was a major pleasant surprise when one of my favorite actors randomly showed up in a movie that I didn't know he was a part of. And I actually loved his character. Then we get further on the ice planet and a huge plot point is revealed which pits Matt Damon and Michael Caine as the antagonists in the film. But were they? McConaughey and Hathaway were focused on finding a planet that was livable and coming back as soon as possible to save their individual families. Damon and Caine were focused on saving the human race as a whole. It was never part of Caine's plan for McConaughey to return home, but Caine didn't tell McConaughey this because he know he wouldn't agree to it. Meanwhile, Damon had been sending false signals that this planet was livable when it never was and once McConaughey gets here, he attempts to kill him to fulfill this secret plan because he knows McConaughey will never accept it. As an audience, of course you are rooting for McConaughey, but then you start to think about Damon and Caine's point of view and you realize they have a lot of great points.

Before moving on, this situation also brings to mind another interesting part of the movie that being the relationship between McConaughey and his two kids. While only a short time has passed for McConaughey, both his kids are now fully grown, and are played by Jessica Chastain and Casey Affleck. In the course of only a few minutes, McConaughey watches them grow up and react to his being gone because he suddenly gets all their messages at once. This is actually a really emotional scene where all three of them, McConaughey, Chastain, and Affleck do an amazing job. Then we start following Chastain and Affleck's point of view and that is done really well. Major props to both of them.

This was all leading up to what could've been an absolutely amazing ending that would be on par with the ending of Inception. However, instead of going bold and mind-blowing, Christopher Nolan instead goes very safe with how this movie ending, which is disappointing because I know how amazing Nolan is and what he has the potential to create. Where it all started to unfold was the fight between McConaughey and Damon. Damon tries to kill McConaughey and he almost succeeds. But McConaughey gets rescued by Hathaway and then moments later Damon makes some dumb moves that get him killed off. Had Nolan been bold enough to kill off McConaughey and then even more bold to keep Damon alive and follow him for the rest of the movie, allowing him to complete his secret plot, this movie would've been amazing. That type of ending would've been a twist that no one saw coming and would've sparked a whole lot of discussion on several different levels.

But alas it didn't happen. Nolan goes with the story book ending, saving McConaughey and killing off Damon soon after he comes onto the scene. But then things got weird. McConaughey pulls off a secret stunt of his own where he sends Hathaway off to the other planet and he himself goes straight into the black hole. I don't even know how to describe what happens. It was bizarre and weird, leading to some sort of space-time continuum that went right over my head. But long story short, McConaughey ends up back in time, stuck behind the shelf in his daughter's room. Remember back at the beginning of this review when I mentioned that a theory came to my mind that the secret messages from the beginning were from McConaughey himself, trying to persuade himself to not go on this mission? Yup. That's exactly what happened. McConaughey, when he gets stuck in this weird dimension behind his daughter's shelf, starts sending messages to get his past self not to go on the mission. Up to this point, despite the flaws, I had accepted everything that had gone on. But this is where my heart sank. This was no badge of honor that I predicted the whole movie. I wanted to be surprised. I wanted to be blown away. But I wasn't. I was entertained. But overall, I was left disappointed because of how safe Nolan took this movie when he could've done so much more.

The actual end is whatever. Chastain figures out the message eventually and long story short, McConaughey ends up reunited with the human race on a ginormous space ship that is transporting everyone to this new planet. McConaughey is pretty much the same age, but to humankind he is 124, meaning his daughter is 101. He reunites with her while on her deathbed, but soon after she tells him to leave because a parent isn't supposed to watch their child die. He asks her where he should go. She says to Hathaway as if the two have this established romantic relationship, which they didn't. But he sneaks off the ship on this other little ship anyways, which means he will just arrive a bit early. I don't know what the rush was. Stay back and get to know your family. But oh well. It's whatever. Meh.

So there we go. You now have all my thoughts about the movie Interstellar that I felt I needed to share. Give yourself a pat on the back if you made all the way through it. Overall, I seem very negative in this specific review, but I still consider this a good movie. It's worth seeing. And go see it in IMAX if that is a possibility for you. The acting is amazing by everyone. I really hope one of the big five (McConaughey, Hathaway, Caine, Damon, Chastain) gets an Oscar nomination to represent this fine crew. Also, this movie is a visual treat with a great score. And while the story is obviously unrealistic, it's engaging and fun for the first two acts. I just really think that Nolan could've done a lot better with that final act. He could've made it big, bold, and thought-provoking, but instead he goes with the cliche, storybook ending that I saw coming from a mile away. And considering that this is the great Christopher Nolan that we are talking about, that is really disappointing. I stay firm with my 8/10 ranking, even after getting all these negative thoughts out. But a score of 8 is disappointing when I was expecting/hoping this would be a 9.5 or 10 quality movie. It just wasn't. Anywho, I would be interested in your thoughts of the movie, and especially your reaction to this review, but please keep those thoughts hidden from the public and comment below instead of in the comment section of facebook or twitter. Let's respect the movie-going experience for those who haven't yet seen the movie. Thanks!

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